Many of us enjoy music. Whether studying, exercising, or simply while relaxing, we listen to our favourite tunes for the pleasure and comfort they bring. But what about dogs? Some pet owners swear that when they play their dog music, there’s a definite positive reaction. James Wellbeloved looks at whether dogs really do like music and how it can help them relax and self-soothe in the same way as humans.
Music to calm dogs
If you’re ever looking for ways to calm your dog down, music can be very helpful indeed. Turning up the tunes will usually act as a natural anti-anxiety remedy for your canine companion, whether they’re a puppy or adult dog.
You can play your dog music in a variety of situations, including:
- During the adjustment period after you first bring them home
- When it’s loud outside, e.g. due to thunderstorms or fireworks
- If they’re having trouble getting to and staying asleep
- Visits to the vet
Of course, music shouldn’t only be played at times where your dog may be stressed, as this could actually become a trigger for them to be frightened too. The last thing you want is for them to think that when music plays, that means something scary must be around. It’s good practice to start by playing music when you know they’re relaxed, and therefore more likely to associate it with being calm too.
The scenarios where your dog might benefit from listening to music are plentiful, so don’t be afraid to use it; although you should make sure to check with the vet first if you plan on playing songs during an examination, in case they find the sound distracting.
Can dogs actually recognise a tune?
Dogs typically hear much better than people. They can also detect certain frequencies that are inaudible to us; for instance, over the radio, from streaming music, or from a CD playing through your home stereo system.
So, does this mean dogs can actually recognise a tune? Well, to an extent, yes. High-pitched sounds especially – such as those from flutes, pianos, or even human voices – often trigger dogs’ howling instincts. This is a leftover from their ancestry and helps alert other pack members to their presence.
Likewise, some dogs can be trained to associate different types of whistle with various given command prompts, which may come in handy as you teach them new tricks.
Soothing music for dogs
There’s a popular belief that the works of classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi act as soothing music for dogs. These lower, calmer frequencies are thought to relax the canine nervous system, thereby settling your pet’s anxiety.
By contrast, heavy metal and rock music can apparently have an agitating effect on dogs. It’s believed that the faster pace of these genres, coupled with their loudness, hurts delicate canine eardrums – so keep them to a minimum around your pet.
Do remember, though, that sometimes dog music taste may also be breed-related. Different hearing ranges and heartbeats, such as those of a small Jack Russell compared to a giant Great Dane, will almost certainly affect how they hear music.
Music can be a great way to help your dog relax and soothe when they’re nervous. Always choose sounds you know they’ll enjoy and remember to keep the volume at a safe level for their sensitive ears. Otherwise, feel free to let your pet listen to whatever tracks they want!