Listening to music through cushy headphones is a favorite pastime of many people. With the invention of mp3 players, iPods, and music streaming services, it’s easier than ever to enjoy music almost anywhere. Sharing music is another big component of first-world human culture, as well. So, some people may even be curious about sharing their music with their best friend - their dog. So, the question has arisen, can dogs hear with headphones on?
There is no doubt dogs have great hearing, so the answer is probably yes. However, it's probably not a good idea to put headphones on your dog. Since their hearing is so much more sensitive than ours, you could seriously damage their hearing with or without headphones - making it not encouraged.
Signs Your Dog is Hearing Through Headphones
If you were to try headphones on your dog, how could you tell if they are hearing anything, though? There isn’t much research about this but signs are probably similar to when they're hearing almost anything else. You’ll probably notice your dog listening and being very alert, then moving their ears up or down. They might even freeze or stiffen their body or tail depending on how they feel about what they are hearing.
If your dog’s ears drop or their body stiffens, they may really not like the music, the volume, or the headphones. No matter the reason, the headphones would need to go immediately. If your dog really doesn't like the situation, they also might try to get the headphones off themself. Even if they don't try to take the headphones off, they may whimper or bark if their ears hurt.
Lastly, they could take off and run away with the headphones still on. This can create a tripping hazard as well as damage to their hearing. So overall, putting headphones on your dog does not sound like a good idea for any reason.
History of Dogs and Headphones
There isn’t much of a history of dogs wearing headphones - at least not that’s been recorded. Headphones themselves were invented in the 1800s, and according to Smithsonian Magazine, they were used for military communication purposes, at first.
Later on, another company called Electrophone created headphones to help patrons hear music and other performances at opera houses. In 1979, the iconic Sony Walkman came out, and humans have been using headphones ever since. Headphones vary from large noise-canceling apparatuses to tiny, wireless earbuds.
If you google “dog headphones” not much will come up. In fact, the top hit is actually ear protection for dogs. This further emphasizes that putting headphones on a dog is not a great idea.
Science Behind Dogs and Headphones
Why might this be a bad idea? Dogs’ keen sense of hearing is the number one reason. Dogs can hear a wide range of sounds and frequencies, and they can certainly hear a lot more than humans. In fact, according to dogcare.com, dogs hear between 67-45,000 Hz, whereas humans can only hear between 64-23,000 Hz.
Also, according to Service Dog Central, dogs can hear things as far as 80 feet away, while humans can only hear things about 20 feet away. So, dogs’ exceptional range of hearing could even mean that they don’t like hearing your music being played without headphones because it’s simply too loud.
Training Your Dog to Be Alright with New Sounds
As for training your dog to listen to music through headphones, it’s not a good idea. It might be too much for their sensitive ears and even seems borderline cruel. As noted before, if you put headphones on your dog, be sensitive to him or her, and definitely talk to your vet before trying anything with your dog and headphones.
Though you probably shouldn’t train your dog to wear headphones, you can train them to stay close to you when they hear a foreign noise and wants to investigate. So, make sure you and your dog have a good relationship established so he’ll listen when you tell him to stay.
If your dog has a hard time obeying you, it’s a good idea to keep them on a leash so they can’t get too far away. Dogs have been known to not only be curious about sounds but also get spooked. If your dog is prone to getting spooked by new sounds, it's important to keep a close eye on them. If your dog runs away, they could get lost, hurt, or killed.
So, while you might love your cushy headphones and listening to music, it might be good to let your pup sit this activity out. Your jam might not be music to their ears.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 04/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020