Whether you’re doing chores around the house, driving home from the store or going on a walk, music can make everything more enjoyable. Depending on the genre, it can give you an energy boost, calm you down or remind you of special memories. And if you’re like us, sometimes you can’t help but sing to your dog — and we’ll admit we’ve tried to get our furry friends to dance along too! But do dogs like music? We asked vet experts, and they share the kind of tunes Spot loves and and can even benefit from. Keep reading for the pro-approved playlist perfect for your pooch:
Dogs’ relationship to music
If your dog seems to ignore music when you play it, it’s not that they don’t hear it — they can hear many things that we don’t. “When they listen to a song, they may pick up on high-frequency sounds we can’t,” explains Dr. Alex Crow, veterinary surgeon and senior editor for Hamster Answers.
“Dogs’ ears are equipped to detect frequencies up to 67,000 Hertz, which is well beyond the human hearing range,” explains Dr. Crow. For perspective, humans with normal hearing capability can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hz. As we age, however, our ability to perceive sound frequency decreases, and by the age of 50, most of us can only hear up to 12,000 Hz maximum. (For reference, the average frequency of human speech is about 4,000 Hz.)
While they may hear it, do dogs like music? Some experts say that they do. “From a veterinarian’s perspective and personal experience with my dogs, I’d say they absolutely do react to music, although it might differ from our human appreciation of melodies,” says Dr. Sabrina Kong, DVM and veterinary consultant at We Love Doodles. Dogs have a strong sense of hearing, she explains. “They can perceive rhythms, patterns and tones.” This ability indicates that not only do dogs like music, like humans, they may have preferences for certain genres.
Dogs’ favorite kinds of music
What’s your favorite genre of music? Maybe it’s classic rock since you associate it with good memories, or perhaps you enjoy country or showtunes because the lyrics have meaning to you. Regardless of your preferred genre, your reasoning likely has some personal significance. Dogs, too, have favorite genres, but their reasoning is a little less complex.
While dogs can’t tell us exactly what kind of music is their favorite, we can make educated guesses based on their body language while they’re exposed to certain genres. Experts believe that because their sense of hearing is so sharp, dogs tend to gravitate toward soft, lower-frequency music — especially classical music.
One study conducted by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast examined the effect different kinds of sounds have on rescue dogs in a shelter. They played the sound of human conversation, heavy metal music, pop tunes and classical songs for 50 dogs. The dogs were exposed to each sound for four hours, and the researchers recorded the differences in their behavior (whether barking, silent, resting or standing) during each time period.
They found that dogs barked the most when exposed to heavy metal, but they were quietest and most restful during the classical music period. These findings led researchers to believe that the low-frequency, structured and quiet nature of classical music is most appealing to dogs.
“This doesn’t mean your dog is a Beethoven fan per se,” says Dr. Kong, “But the slower tempos and harmonious sounds of classical music can be soothing for them.”
Aside from classical music, dogs may also enjoy audio books, says Dr. Luana Factor, veterinarian at Hermit Crab Answers. “For dogs, a human’s voice often symbolizes security, warmth and a sense of belonging.” Audio books also have consistent, predictable sounds and rhythms, she adds. “Such consistency serves as a stabilizing auditory backdrop for dogs, overshadowing abrupt environmental noises.” The steady human voice may also help your pup feel less alone when you’re out of the house. (Click through to see how much dogs enjoy baby talk.)
The benefits of playing music for your dog
Not only does your pup enjoy classical music — they might also get some mental and physical health benefits from it, according to the experts. “The benefits for music for dogs are similar to the benefits for humans,” notes Dr. Kong. “It can provide comfort, reduce anxiety and even help with sleep.”
Classical music in particular — with its slower tempo and long sustained notes instead of rapid, quick notes — calms dogs by engaging their parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for putting the body at rest. It indicates to dogs on a psychological level that their environment is safe and that it’s okay for them to let their guards down and relax. And a relaxed dog is a happy and healthy dog since they’re more likely to get more sleep and have fewer behavioral issues. If your dog has separation anxiety or is showing signs of stress, turn on some classical music (at a low volume — remember how sensitive her hearing is!) and they may calm down.
Music to play for your dog
There are many videos and playlists available across the internet that you can play for your dog. Check out some of our favorites from YouTube below.
1. Classical Music For Dogs
This two-hour long video contains relaxing classics like Brahms’ Lullaby and Ave Maria. It’s long enough that you can leave it on in the background without having to change songs.
2. Classical Piano Music and Fireplace
This video is a live stream, which means it runs 24/7 without stopping. It features piano-only classical music and a fireplace visual with subtle crackling hearth noises. Some studies suggest that listening to the sounds of a crackling fire may lower blood pressure, so this video is beneficial for you, too.
3. Nature Sounds and Relaxing Classical Music
Your dog is naturally drawn to the outdoors. Combine the sounds of nature and relaxing classical music with this video, which has almost two hours worth of birdsong, breeze sounds and music. Plus, the video of greenery swaying in the wind is visually stimulating for your pup.
4. Relaxing Classical Harp Music
This three-hour-long video has classical favorites all played on the harp. Aside from behind beautiful, the harp my be especially relaxing for dogs, suggest Dr. Factor. “One proposition is that the continuous melodies created by harp strings generate delicate vibrations and sounds that align with a dog’s hearing.”
5. Super Low Frequency Music
If you’re not into classical music and would rather not have it playing in the background, that’s okay, too. This video features an hour of low frequency tones between 10-12Hz, which may help your dog feel more relaxed.
6. Winnie the Pooh (Complete Audiobook with rain sounds)
If your dog finds the most comfort from human voices, you can try an audiobook. There are many free audiobooks available on YouTube. This one of Winnie the Pooh with rain sounds in the background is especially soothing — and adorable!
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