Can Dogs Recognize Music?

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Introduction

Singing into your hairbrush while jamming out to your favorite tunes might be one of your favorite past times. As you’re having a mid-evening jam session, though, you might notice that your dog doesn’t seem as enthused by your singing skills. This might get you wondering, can my dog hear and recognize music?  

This is a heavily talked about question online, and it is difficult to find a lot of solid scientific studies to back it up. While no one is 100% sure if dogs can recognize music or not, it seems like dogs can at least hear music. Before you run out and buy your dog an iPod, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Signs Your Dog Might Be Hearing Music

Let’s start with the basics. First, it’s important to recognize when your dog is hearing music. Though again, there is not substantial information about how dogs show us that they sense music, the signs are probably pretty similar to if they’re hearing any other noises. Watch for them to appear to be listening, being alert, putting their ears up, and they might even howl in response to the music.

However, if your music is too loud, your dog may whimper, try to get away from the noise, and even start barking. It’s important to watch for these signs, and if your music is too loud, turn it down. While music can be great, the most important thing is keeping your dog’s ears safe. Their ears are one of their keenest senses, and you don't want to do anything to damage their hearing. There have been studies with dogs hearing certain kinds of music and getting distressed, as well. So, be sensitive to your furry friend - they may not be enjoying the tunes as much as you.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog is hearing music:
  • Alert
  • Listening
  • Howling
  • Ears up

Other Signs

These are other signs you may notice if the volume from your music is bothering your dog:
  • Whimpering
  • Trying to get away
  • Distressed behavior

History of Dogs Hearing Music

As far as the history of dogs hearing music goes, we have to make some assumptions. Since dogs have exceptional hearing, we can probably assume that dogs have been hearing music for as long as music has been made. We also know that the dogs’ ancestor, the wolf, has been howling for as long as humans can remember, and some scientists believe that howling is actually a form of music to dogs, as well. 

This implies that to some level, dogs have been exposed to music for thousands of years. What may be more of a new development it the amount of music and how loud it can be played. People today have endless playlists and state-of-the-art sound systems. Having a powerful speaker set can be a lot of fun, but it can also be causeing your hound a world of grief.

Science Behind Dogs Hearing Music

This leads to the science behind dogs hearing and maybe even making music. According to Psychology Today, some scientists think dogs howling is dogs’ attempt at making music since they sometimes howl when they hear music. The article goes on to say that howling is also a form of communication for dogs, but scientists think there is evidence your dog might also be trying to sing along with music, too. If you’re ever looking for examples, there are some great videos on YouTube of dogs appearing to “sing along” with music.

It's also interesting to note that according to a study that Psychology Today mentions, some dogs have shown musical preference. Heavy metal music made dogs bark and become agitated while classical music seemed to calm the dogs. So, that seems like pretty good evidence that dogs have some sense of music. It's also very interesting that music can affect dogs' moods like it affects human's moods.

Training Your Dog to Recognize Music

As far as training your dog to recognize music, there isn’t a surefire way to do this since the evidence is inconclusive. However, if you show general excitement about music, your dog may sense that and get excited too. In fact, there is even music you can buy that has been made specifically with dogs in mind - if that’s your, or your dog’s, jam.

As mentioned before, some dogs really don’t love loud or noisy music. So, it’s important to be sensitive and realize that your tunes may not be music to your dog’s ears. Dogcare.com tells us that dogs can hear between 67-45,000 Hz while we can only hear between 64-23,000 Hz.  So, while you might be jamming out and enjoying yourself, your dog may be in serious pain. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable, be sensitive and turn the music off or down.

So, can your dog join you in your evening jam sesh? Sure they can, but it’s really up to them how they react and if they're actually enjoying it.

How to React to Your Dog Recognizing Music:

  • If your dog howls along, play the song whenever they need a pick-me-up.
  • If your dog paws at their ears or tries to run away, know that you should turn the tunes down.
  • If your dog starts barking aggressively, maybe switch to a calmer song.

We Want to Hear the Story of Your Dog Jamming to Your Favorite Tunes!