Can Dogs Hear Speakers?

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Introduction

It's no secret that dogs have excellent hearing, but have you ever wondered how they feel about the music and podcasts you listen to, or if they can hear you on speaker phone? In order to understand how - or if - dogs can hear through speakers, it's important to take a closer look at their hearing. Humans have approximately 1/3 the hearing of dogs when it comes to interpreting high-pitched noises. Studies have shown that dogs can hear in the range of 40Hz to 60,000Hz, whereas humans have a hearing sensitivity of 20Hz to 20,000. 

Because dogs can hear higher pitch noises than humans, they often respond to noises differently. In many cases, a dog will start barking at seemingly nothing, when in fact they are responding to an instrument, song, or some other noise coming through your speakers. 

Signs a Dog Can Hear Through Speakers

If you are a dog owner, chances are you've witnessed your furry friend barking at thin air, or so you think. Given the fact they can hear higher frequencies so well, there's a pretty good chance they are actually barking at something, which could be anything from a mouse, a noisy insect, or a high-pitch instrument coming through your speakers.  

When your dog hears these 'phantom' noises, it is important to remember how much better they can hear than you. Not only can they interpret noises in a much higher range than we can, but the structure of their ears provide them with more mobility, allowing them to locate the source of the noise relatively quickly. 

When a dog hears a noise coming through a speaker - whether it is music or the sound of your voice - there's a good chance they will be able to interpret it. If this is the case, here are a few signs to look for: 

  • Alertness 
  • Ears moving in different directions 
  • Listening 
  • Sniffing 
  • Hyperactive, pacing around trying to determine the exact source of the noise 

It is important to remember that dogs' hearing also varies by breed. So, while a general assumption is that they can hear sounds upwards of 60,000 Hz, some breeds may hear better, and some worse. Speakers are designed to accommodate the human hearing range, which is why your dog may show no interest when your favorite song, or even a recognizable voice, comes on. 

Body Language

Here's a few signs your canine friend can hear through the speakers:
  • Alert
  • Head tilting
  • Listening
  • Sniffing
  • Raise ears
  • Tail up
  • Ears up

Other Signs

These are a few other signs that may indicate your dog can hear through the speakers:
  • Looking around for the noise
  • Moving to or from the speaker
  • Seeming on edge or very alert

History of Dogs Hearing Speakers

When it comes to understanding your dog's hearing, it is important to keep in mind how much they rely on this particular sense. While smell is your dog's most important sense, hearing is a close second. In order to help us better understand the role of hearing in your canine's life, it helps to look at their wild dog and wolf ancestors. 

These creatures relied heavily on their sense of smell and hearing in order to catch prey, which was necessary to their survival. Centuries ago, these dogs survived on vermin alone in many cases, and it was imperative they were able to hear their high-pitched noises in order to determine exactly where they were. 

All of this is helpful to keep in mind when looking at how dogs hear today. Technology has undoubtedly come a long way, playing an instrumental role in our everyday lives. Dogs are exposed to so many different noises, both in their natural environment and through technological devices. 

Science Behind Dogs Hearing Through Speakers

Taking a more in-depth look at a dog's hearing ability is imperative when it comes to understanding how and what they hear. We've discussed that their hearing is far superior to ours, but what does this really mean? Let's take a look at how dogs interpret music in order to get a better idea of their relationship to speakers. During any given song, there are usually several noises going on at once. 

The frequency will depend on the vibration of the instruments that are being played. A piano, for example, puts out several sounds that range from high to low notes. Most piano's low notes are in the 27.5 Hz range, with the highest notes coming in around 4,186 Hz. 

So, all of this is in the human's range, which means that if you are playing a song through the speakers, you will most likely be able to hear each of the sounds together and separately. Music is designed for humans to hear, so it's only logical to think that all sounds recorded into any given song are within the 20-20,000 Hz. If this is the case, it's safe to assume that dogs can hear these same sounds coming through the speakers. 

Training Your Dog to Hear Speakers

Hearing plays a vital role in your dog's life, and in many cases, you can actually train your dog to hear specific noises and frequencies. As we mentioned, a dog's hearing can vary by breed, so don't just assume your dog can hear a specific noise - observe them. If you notice your dog responds to a song positively, it could be because they like a sound due to associative reinforcement. A dog's senses are critical to their memory, which means they can recall certain situations based on hearing. 

If you want to train your dog to use their hearing in certain situations, the best way is to start with either a basic obedience training course or positive reinforcement at home. When they respond to the specific noise you want them to - such as a song or a voice through a speaker - reward them. 

How to React if Your Dog Hears Speakers:

  • Reward them to associate the noise with something positive.
  • Pay attention to their behavior and try to determine where the source of the noise is coming from.

Safety Tips for When Your Dog Hears Speakers:

  • Make sure the music isn't too loud. Your dog's hearing is three times better than yours, which means they are more sensitive to loud noises.