Dogs have better hearing than us, so they naturally can hear the music we play, right? Not so fast. While it is true that dogs have more than twice as good of hearing as humans (they can hear sounds between 40-60,000 Hz compared to 20-20,000 Hz for us humans), they can't distinguish pitch and tone like we can. In fact, most people take the ability to distinguish between musical tones in a scale - do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do - for granted. No other mammal - including dogs - has this same ability.
When we listen to music, it comes out of speakers. Like us, your dog can hear that sounds are happening and they probably can pinpoint your speakers as the source. But that's about as deep as it gets for them. While they may react a certain way to some music you play, it's safe to say they can't tell the genre or what year the song was released.
Signs Your Dog Can Hear Music Through the Speakers
Okay, we've established that your dog has excellent hearing, but how can you tell? If you spend any time at all with a dog, it will likely become clear just how good their hearing is, and what an important role it plays in their lives. They rely on their hearing - along with their sense of smell - to determine if someone is a friend or a foe, and they also use it to pick up on your emotions and mood.
If you are someone who loves music and plays it around your dog, there's a good chance you've noticed them react in some way or another. This is because, yes, dogs can most certainly hear music through speakers. However, they do not have the same ability to decipher the sounds they are hearing and turn it into a song. Dogs can hear much higher pitch than we can, which is why they often have such strong reactions to ambulances and other loud sounds. When it comes to music, dogs know something is coming out of those speakers, and they will likely look to you to see how they should react.
There are a few ways you can tell if your dog is, indeed, listening to the music come out of your home or car speakers, all you have to do is watch their behavior to see. Look at their ears and make note if they are twitching back and forth, on alert, or laid back. This is a great indicator that they are listening.
History Behind Dogs Hearing Music
Researchers, scientists, and dog lovers alike have spent countless hours trying to understand how dogs relate to humans and use their own senses. We know that their sense of hearing is excellent - and much better than ours, for that matter. But this is not to say that they have the same relationship to sounds, like music, that we do.
Some theorists believe that dogs don't actually pay attention to music and songs, but rather how the music is affecting their owner. Dogs want their owners to be calm, relaxed, and happy. When a song comes on that makes them react differently, they may start barking or acting anxious.
It is important to look at previous studies of dogs and how we've come to learn more about them. Famed French philosopher Rene Descartes was one of the first to take a deeper look at the human-dog relationship. We've certainly learned a lot since Descartes time, but we still have a ways to go.
Music is an important part of our lives, as are our dogs. Like humans, each dog is different and may react in a unique way to the sounds coming out of your speakers. Sure, they know something is going on, but it's safe to say they can't tell the difference between Lady Gaga and The Beatles.
Science Behind Dogs Hearing Music
All signs point to 'yes' when the question of whether or not dogs can hear music through speakers is brought up. Studies have shown that dogs have much more sensitive ears than humans do, which makes sense when you look at them!
While dogs can hear high pitched noises better than we can, we have more ability to hear lower frequencies. Since dogs can hear higher pitch noises than humans, they often respond to noises that we cannot hear. This is why you may think your dog is barking at 'nothing', then a few minutes later a walker or bike rider goes by your house.
This brings us to how they relate to music. When you have the radio or Spotify on, your dog is aware that there are several different noises going on at the same time (unless someone is playing the guitar solo). However, the similarities between humans and dogs in regards to music stops there.
You may have noticed your dog acting anxious or strange when a certain song comes on. No, this doesn't mean the song is bringing up a bad memory about an ex, but rather that the sound is just plain annoying to them. In some cases, your dog may be hearing a sound in the song that your ears can't even detect.
Training Your Dog to Hear Music Through Speakers
Your dog has a natural ability to hear, which includes different sounds and noises in the wild and in your home, through your speakers. They can hear well within our range, and then some. However, dogs don't have the same neurons that interpret music as we do. So, while they can certainly hear sounds coming from your speakers, they don't have the same ear for it as you do.
If you want to teach your dog to 'dance' or react a certain way to a specific noise or song, it is first and foremost important to remember how sensitive their ears are. Never play loud music for them and avoid taking them to concerts, if possible.
Unlike humans, dogs don't need the stereo cranked up to 11 in order to get the gist of the song. That being said, if you are just dying to teach your dog to stand up on their hind legs or roll over when your favorite Stones song comes on, start by keeping the volume low and give them a command when the chorus kicks. It will take a lot of patience - and rewards - but you may soon have a Wild Horses fan on your hands.
Written by a Chihuahua lover Allie Wall
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 06/10/2018, edited: 04/06/2020