People all over the world agree that music can be tremendously healing to the soul. Whether the song is sad, happy, or energetic, humans find that the beautiful sounds of various instruments coming together can calm them like nothing else or enhance their experience in whatever activity they may be engaged in at the time. However, can your dog experience the same delight when you switch on the tunes?
Existing studies so far clearly demonstrate that when dogs listen to music they calm down and have reduced stress levels in domestic environments. The best music for this is classical, but some owners report that their dogs enjoy soft rock, too.
Scientists are growing more and more interested in how beneficial music can be for your dog’s well-being. Just like you, your pup’s musical tastes may change from day to day. It’s best to experiment regularly to find out what your like, of course, some dogs may not like music at all. Just make sure to base your musical choices on the details below.
New Music and Podcasts Designed for Dogs
So, it’s time for you to go to work once again, and you’re leaving your precious pup at home alone. Even if your dog is not one to act out while you’re away, you may have been scrounging for ideas lately on how to help them relax until you return. Well, how different could they be from humans? Surely your pup appreciates some nice beats, too, right?
Yes! It may seem silly to think about, but your canine companion can learn to love music just as much as you do. Like the idea of soundtracks designed to soothe sleeping babies, many artists have come together to create albums or looped music specially designed with your fur-baby in mind. Spotify is just one example of the recent craze that has weaseled its way into the entertainment industry.
Initiatives like Spotify’s recent project are inspired by past acts like that of Laurie Anderson. She put on an entire concert for Man’s Best Friend in Sydney, Australia. The performance was repeated on national television and live in New York City’s Times Square, too. Now, Spotify welcomes owners to participate in their playlist by following these instructions.
- Choose the type of pet you have (dog, cat, iguana, hamster, or bird).
- Provide a few details on your pet’s personality type (shy, friendly, relaxed, energetic). This information influences the type of music the system will select for your pet.
- Input your pet’s name and a photo of them. This will be the playlist’s background and the image used on social media whenever you share music from the playlist.
- Turn the playlist on and enjoy!
Spotify also highlights some interesting statistics. Stating that classical music and soft rock were among their pet’s favorites. Interestingly 71% of pet owners play music to their pets, well thinking that music relieves their pet’s stress, boosts their happiness, and keeps them company. These are some great statistics if you are thinking of playing music for your dog.
Will Your Dog Enjoy the Playlist’s Music?
Alright, this is a cute gimmick, but is there any substantial science here outside of what dog owners believe their dogs do and do not enjoy? Is the playlist more for you, or does your dog genuinely like the selection you’ve picked out for them? Turns out, researchers have confirmed that your pup does, indeed, genuinely like the tunes, you play at home – well, not all of them.
Researchers tested dogs’ preferences by observing their behavior while listening to three types of music: pop, classical, and heavy metal. When dogs in a shelter listened to pop music, they didn’t clearly demonstrate any distinct feelings one way or the other. (Source: American Kennel Club; Psychology Today)
However, when the scientists turned on heavy metal, the dogs began to bark and get agitated. On the other hand, classical music seemed to calm them down. Of course, this doesn’t mean that dogs only like classical music. Your dog may have a different preference entirely, as Spotify’s audience clearly observed that their pets also enjoy soft rock.
You know your pup better than anyone else, so it’s best to use this research as a foundation for building your dog’s ideal playlist. Experiment with a few genres and see which one your dog responds best to. Just like you, its music preferences may change over time, so don’t keep them restricted to one artist or genre – spice it up now and then!
More on the Science of Dogs’ Musical Enjoyment
You might be surprised to learn that music is becoming a popular musical tool in veterinary care. Often referred to as “dog music,” soothing tunes are excellent resources for pups’ enrichment. In fact, it’s become so reliable that there is an entire industry developing around the concept.
Unfortunately, research like the scientific observations described above are too few and far between to create a substantial foundation of evidence to further support the industry’s growth. Still, scientists are optimistic about where the field is heading. They hope to eliminate suspicions of dog owners merely anthropomorphizing their pets and projecting their own musical preferences on their canines.
Current studies build on the knowledge that music therapy is an invaluable tool for human mental and emotional health. However, it’s not that easy to translate this knowledge to applications for dogs, as there are many caveats to how they might experience music therapy. Interestingly, a dog’s ability to receive the music in a specific manner is influenced by several aspects of physicality (Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health):
- Head shape
- Distance between the ears
- The functionality of the pinnae (the outer portion of the ears)
- Learning history
Music Therapy May Positively Influence Behavior
One of the main motivations for research on this topic is that music can help reduce stress for animals in domestic environments. Because of this, your dog may develop calmer, more acceptable behaviors instead of bouncing off the walls and tearing up your furniture and belongings. Even if you don’t play music at home, radios at boarding kennels and similar institutions may help your dog’s mentality.
With this in mind, music therapy might be a superior method of controlling your dog’s unruly behavior at home (depending on the extent of their destructive tendencies). This is because it is incredibly cheap to implement and requires next to no training for your dog to experience. Still, dogs will take to specific genres and tempos better than others, so there can be a significant time commitment.
So far, scientists have only rounded up about nine studies that look into dogs’ reception and experience of music, specifically music therapy. The recorded effects are mainly behavioral, and hardly any have studied physiological impacts.
Generally, dogs listening to classical music were observed to sit and lie down more often than they would normally. Researchers also recorded them resting, sleeping, and vocalizing much less than before, suggesting that the music genuinely calmed them down. A handful of studies further supported this by showing that changes in the cortisol levels reflected lower stress levels.
The “dog music” industry is growing rapidly, going way back to Laurie Anderson’s dog-friendly concert in Sydney and now to Spotify’s paw-fect playlist for pets. Although little empirical evidence exists to support the theory that music helps dogs’ mental and emotional health, dog owners and some researchers know this to be true.
Still, keep in mind that different musical genres affect your pup in varying ways. For instance, researchers found that dogs are quite indifferent to pop music. On the other hand, heavy metal agitated them a bit, and classical music calmed them down. Many owners report that their dogs enjoy soft pop. Try out different genres and find out what your pup likes!