Yes, dogs like music, but does your dog like that sad music that you masochistically play when you feel low? Or your heavy metal? Let’s find out.
Is your doggo going insane every time you play some music? Remember that time when you had to visit some distant family and they were playing mainstream pop music and Spark went mad destroying all the furniture, lamps, expensive paintings and then you had to run from there with your dog in order to save your lives?
There’s an explanation for this. Also, dog shelters have reported receiving longer visits with an increased adoption ratio when they were playing music. Looks like that music definitely influences dogs, but how? And what kind of music do they prefer? Let’s see.
What’s The Effect Of Music In Dogs
According to a research study published by Psychology Today in 2012, you shouldn’t be asking “Why is my dog howling at music?” but “Why does my dog howl”? In fact, music isn’t the only sound that could trigger a howling, ―as you may know― there are several motives and I explained them to you here.
Even when dogs bark much more than howl, wolves use this as a way to communicate with their pack, to find a member who’s possibly lost or just to gather together. So yeah, dogs like music, they basically “respond” to it because they think there’s another dog trying to communicate with them from the distance.
The music that most encourages a dog to howl is the piano and wind instruments like the saxophone or clarinet, sometimes even long high violin notes or a person singing high-pitched notes could work.
As you may have already noticed, dogs don’t howl to “sing” or trying to produce some sort of musical rhythm, they just respond to a sound that seems to be another dog trying to talk. However, studies have proved that some dogs have musical taste, that is, they do prefer some music genres over others.
Okay, dogs like music, but What Musical Genres Does My Dog Like?
Even when I said “some dogs” before, the truth is, most dogs have a highbrow music taste. Psychologist Deborah Wells at Queens University in Belfast ran a curious experiment in a dog shelter, she exposed 50 dogs to three different genres of music.
- When exposed to classical music (including Grieg’s Morning, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy) the dogs stopped barking a great deal, then showed calm attitudes and laid down, classical music soothes dogs.
- When exposed to pop music (Britney Spears and others) dogs didn’t show any reaction. You know what they say, being criticized isn’t the worst thing but being unnoticed.
- When exposed to heavy metal, dogs got agitated and started to bark. This could be applied to any loud music or high-frequency sounds. This doesn’t mean that metal is a “bad music”, it isn’t enjoyed by dogs due to its loud nature.
To test the dogs’ ability to differentiate music from other sounds, they were exposed to human conversations and quiet periods in between the main music genres. They didn’t show any special reaction to the chatter nor to silence.
Deborah, the researcher, concluded that:
“It is well established that music can influence our moods. Classical music, for example, can help to reduce levels of stress, whilst grunge music can promote hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue. It is now believed that dogs may be as discerning as humans when it comes to musical preference.”
Note: Grunge is the musical style of Nirvana.
However, even when dogs can perceive music, they do it as a mix of sounds that may sound pleasurable to their ears or not. Keep in mind that the environment matters and you won’t calm down your Chihuahua playing Mozart if there’s a kid party or your mom is vacuuming the whole house.
What We Learned Today
- Dogs like music and they can perceive it almost as we do, and they may enjoy it depending on the genre.
- Is your dog howling at the music? That’s because he thinks it’s another dog trying to communicate with him from the distance.
- Some musical instruments like saxophone, clarinet, piano, violin or a high pitched voice could make your dog confuse it with a distant howling.
- Dogs don’t like high, loud music like heavy metal, it agitates them.
- Pop music has no effect on dogs, it’s like silence for them.
- Classical music has a relaxing effect on dogs, putting them to sleep most of the time.