We all know how dogs react to unfamiliar noise – thunder causes a fearful response, where the sound of a siren brings out a howl. When owners are shopping around for calming music that pleases their canine companion, it’s usually because they’re trying to solve a problem. The question is, do dogs like music?
If our pets do indeed enjoy music, then what do they prefer to listen to? Current pop songs or the old classics? Or maybe its sounds of the ocean? Surprisingly, scientists have looked into this and the answer is yes, our canine counterparts do enjoy music but only a very specific kind. They don’t love every genre out there or even the kind of sounds that we humans consider music.
For anyone out there thinking do dogs like music, and looking to test out certain songs and artists with their pets, there are a few guidelines to follow.
Dogs Don’t Enjoy High Pitches
Canines have much sharper ears than we do and they can hear frequencies as low as 16-20 Hz and as high as 70,000 to 100,000 Hz. For comparison, humans can hear frequencies as low as 20 to 70 Hz and only as high as 20,000 Hz. This is because dogs have smaller heads than we do, and the larger the head, the lower frequencies a mammal can hear. Therefore certain kinds of sounds that we are accustomed to are magnified to an extent and they can create serious discomfort for the dog.
If you’ve ever heard a smoke detector go off in your house, you can understand how unpleasant it feels to have that constant screech in your ears. This is what the majority of high frequency noises sound like to dogs, so you’ll probably want to avoid trying to set the mood with some Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. Techno-style music, on the other hand, is broken down into sub genres. House and heavy bass-lines are something to avoid, but your dog just might enjoy trance, or slower versions of the genre. As long as there isn’t any high-pitched, repetitive beeping, it should be just fine.
They Like Soft, Soothing or Classical Music
The difficulties that bring about a need for music are usually things like separation anxiety, fear of thunderstorms, or dogs with dementia who need some extra help falling asleep at night. In fact, this is the reason scientists studied the question do dogs like music and how auditory stimulation can affect stressed canines. In a 2002 study they found that classical music is most soothing for the dog, and that’s what they enjoy the most, particularly when experiencing stress and anxiety.
So you’ll want to leave out that Metallica CD from the playlist in your car. Actually, louder music like metal, rap, or other high energy forms of music are more likely to agitate your dog than help them. Instead, choose something like Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, or even Mozart’s Sonata No. 16 in C major and your pup is much more likely to react positively to this kind of music.
The slow, peaceful melody of the piano in songs like Moonlight Sonata is sure to help the dog get through a restless evening and calm him down. As a matter of fact, studies have shown (PDF) how many shelters, rescues and veterinary clinics use soft, classical music or harp sounds to help comfort their scared and sick residents who have either…