January 14, 2020 3 min read
Do you ever wonder if your pup finds your favorite songs as soothing as you do? Do they relax and wag their tail to the beat?
It turns out, dogs do love music.
What music do dogs like best?
Research suggests that dogs have musical preferences and react differently to particular types of music. Most music appears to have a relaxing effect on dogs. When calming music is played, they spend more time lying down or standing still.
The exception to this is when heavy metal or hard rock is being played. As measured by heart rate variability and stress hormones released, such pounding music actually increased stress levels.
In one study, the response to various genres was mixed - just as it might be in humans - but the largest stress reduction was found for soft rock and reggae. The variation in response levels suggested that just as in humans, dogs probably do have their own preferences for one genre or song over another.
Not only do dogs have musical preferences, but some seem to have a sense of pitch. This notion has been explored through various performances over the years. In 1980, Carnegie Hall hosted the debut performance of Howl, a musical work for 20 voices and three canines. In the years following that performance, various additional works were composed that included canine accompaniments. In each of these, dogs howled to accompany music, with occasional barks and yips as punctuation. Over the past decade, Laurie Anderson has put on numerous performances and shows that are specifically for designed for dogs. In her shows, sound was played at a lower frequency that is more suitable for dogs, and headphones were provided for non-dogs, through which humans could hear Anderson’s violin and keyboards. Generally, it appears that music affects and pleases dogs the same way it affects their fellow humans.
Dogs are often drawn to musical sounds that mimic their own voices when they howl. According to Psychology Today, "scientific analyses suggest that canines have a sense of pitch. Recordings of wolves have shown that each will change its tone when others join the chorus. No wolf seems to want to end up on the same note as any other in the choir. This is why a dog howling along with a group of singing humans is instantaneously noticeable." Dogs seem to revel in the discordant sound they are making.
Your pup will be drawn to sounds made by instruments that can mimic a howl. This means soft tunes from instruments like a clarinet, trumpet, or trombone. Reed instruments such as clarinets or saxophones seem to induce howling the most often. You may notice your dog responding with a wag of the tail or a howl each time those sounds play. If a note is held long enough, your pup may start to howl in excitement.
Besides music instruments, dogs also get attracted to the soothing voices in songs. When a singer holds longer notes with their voice, this is even more likely to excite your dog.
Now you understand why your pup loves your classical and reggae playlists. Whenever those windy tunes play, your dog may be excited and produce a howl to try and much the tunes. Not only do dogs listen to music, but as has been demonstrated in live performances, they can also play or howl a tune or two if their favorite human is willing to help.
Are there health benefits of your dog listening to music?
Canine music therapy
Yes, music therapy has been used for years to help calm dogs. This technique has multiple benefits for dogs:
If you have always wondered if dogs like music, the answer is yes. Dogs not only get excited and sing their own version of the lyrics, but they often also do not mind playing an instrument in the name of music. Music has been shown to have calming effects on dogs that can help reduce or avoid the need for medication to treat anxiety.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to spend extra time at home in the company of your furbaby these days, snuggle up with your pup, and play the most heartwarming songs on your playlist.
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