4 min read


Can Dogs Like Music?



4 min read


Can Dogs Like Music?


Many dog owners leave their best friends at home with radios or televisions playing so that their pups can enjoy some music while they're home alone. Music choices vary - ranging from Mozart, Jim Morrison, or even to Brad Paisley. 

We assume that our pups will enjoy the music we listen to. But do dogs really like music?


Signs Your Dog Likes Music

Does your pup appear to emotionally respond to your music? Studies show that dogs can actually tell the difference between different music genres based on certain behavioral responses. The results have indicated that dogs exhibit signs of relaxation in response to calm music like classical compositions and signs of agitation in response to heavy rock or metal bands. It is important to pay attention to your dog's behavior in order to discern whether your pup is comfortable with what is being played.

Ways to determine if your dog is into your tunes involve taking a good look at them while the music plays. What are their ears doing? If they like what they hear, they may perk up or tilt their heads in interest. If the ears fall flat back on their head, take it as a message they are not feeling your song choice. A dog who doesn't change their body language feels neither impressed nor offended at the music being played.

Body Language

<p>Some signs your pup isn't really enjoying your taste in music may include:<br/></p><br/>

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Dropped Ears
  • Tail Tucking

Other Signs

Although it may be hard to determine what your dog truly does or doesn't enjoy, some signs your pup enjoys your taste in music may include:<br/>

  • Sleepiness
  • Wagging Tail
  • No Barking
  • Calm Behavior

The History Behind Dogs Liking Music


Studies have shown that dogs are fully capable of recognizing pitch and tone. Have you ever noticed that a dog howling along with singing humans tends to be a bit "off key?" 

Your dog actually isn't tone-deaf because the difference in pitch is purposeful. Wolves will purposefully howl to gather the pack. Apparently, no wolf wants to end up on the same note as another wolf in the pack. Researchers have used recordings of wolves to examine whether a wolf will change its tone if other members of the pack join the howling, which they do in fact do. 

But does understanding the pitches and tones from howling translate into understanding human music?

The Science Behind Dogs Liking Music


Research shows that dogs actually do share our capacity for liking music. Psychologist Deborah Wells studied this music appreciation by exposing shelter dogs to different music genres. The dogs listened to a selection of popular music (think Britney Spears, Robbie Williams and Bob Marley), classical music (think Beethoven and Mozart), or recordings of heavy rock bands (think Metallica and Slipknot). After observing all of the dogs' behaviors, it was determined that the genre of music matters: The heavy metal music agitated the dogs, the pop music did not stir much reaction, and the classical music appeared to have a relaxing effect. While listening to classical, barking ceased and the dogs often laid down and got cozy. 

Animal advocates also swear by classical music, claiming that in dog shelters the calming music creates a calm environment because the pups stop barking and are settled. This leads to visitors staying longer and adoption rates increasing! 

Animal psychologist, Charles Snowdon, has further discovered that animals, including your pooch, march to the beat of their own drum. Animals actually enjoy something called "species-specific music" or music created using the pitches, tones and tempos that are familiar to a particular animal.

Us humans enjoy music that falls within our range, music that uses tones and pitches we can understand. To other animals, like our dogs, our music may be unrecognizable because the tones and pitches used are different from what specific animals are born to understand. Different animals have different vocal ranges and aren't wired to appreciate music designed for human listening. 

Researchers in 2009 composed two songs designed specifically for monkeys. These monkeys have vocalizations three octaves higher than us humans. As shrill and unpleasant as the songs were to us humans, the monkeys seemed to enjoy the compositions. The song modeled on excited monkey tones made the monkeys visibly agitated and active. The other song that included slower, happy monkey tones made the monkeys social and calm. 

Because there are many variations of dog breeds, composing a song for your pup may be more difficult. However, researchers believe that since large dogs, such as Labradors, have vocal ranges that are more similar to those of adult male humans, it is possible that these types of dogs might be responsive to our music.

Training Your Dog to Like Music


Whether your dog likes or even recognizes your type of music depends on the kind of dog. You can introduce your pup to music by playing your music softly while you are there. This way, you can analyze your pup's behavior for any signs of discomfort. Since studies show that dogs prefer classical, it may be best to start with these relaxing tunes. If your pup seems relaxed and happy, this may be a sign that your pup likes your taste!

It's best to minimize the amount of loud, out-of-the-ordinary noises your pup has to listen to because we never know how an environment will affect their feelings or emotions. Furthermore, dogs don't always understand where sounds are coming from and why, so you don't want to overly confuse your pup. 

Training your dog to enjoy music can have other benefits. Learning new things helps dogs develop and grow their brain capacity. It helps dogs stay aware as they grow older, and most importantly it increases the bond between you and your pup! 

Over time, your pup will begin to associate music with the happy memories of being together. 

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By Olivia Gerth

Published: 03/23/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
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