What Kind of Music Do Dogs Like?

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 01/14/21 •  9 min read
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Have you ever noticed your dog reacting to the music you’re listening to? That is, if you’re not wearing headphones and your dog can also hear the music! Does he seem to react differently to various genres of music? Does one type seem to calm him, while another genre gets him upset and/or barking? If so, then you’ve confirmed information from several studies that have shown music can affect dogs. Let’s take a look.

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What Music is Most Calming for Dogs?

Have you ever looked for music online and come across playlists for dogs?  Spotify recently came out with a playlist for dogs, which was a huge, and welcomed surprise for pet parents. The playlist is filled with music that’s supposed to help dogs (and their other siblings…think cats and other pets) when they’re home alone, need something to help them calm down, etc. According to several studies, dogs definitely react to music. The type of reaction depends on the genre of music played. In one study on shelter dogs, the researchers looked at the behavioral and physiological responses of 38 dogs over the course of five days. They played five genres of music including Motown, pop, reggae, soft rock and classical.

Researchers found that most of the dogs calmed down when listening to reggae and soft rock.

The theory of why the music calmed the dogs is that reggae and soft rock generally have a slower tempo, which works to relax fur babies. On the other hand, researchers found that songs with more beats per minute, such as hard rock, heavy metal, etc., caused the dogs to become anxious and excited. The music dogs like to listen to seems to be slow and have lower tones, in general. Other studies have also found similar trends with reggae, classical and soft rock being more relaxing for dogs. In addition, researchers have found that volume also affects how one of dogs react to music. They point out that dog’s ears are much more sensitive than our own and recommend that music not be played too loudly.

One note on pitch—if you ever notice your dog howling at music, it could be he’s reacting to the high pitches he may be hearing. Here, think of wolves in the wild. When a wolf wants to gather the pack, they begin to howl. Howls tend to be higher pitched than other vocalizations. As the other wolves join in, they are also high-pitched. Dogs react in much the same way when they hear high pitches. It might be an ambulance or other siren that causes him to howl. He may be reacting as a wolf does to the high pitch—your fur baby may be trying to communicate with what may be another dog. Or the pitch is hurting his sensitive ears, which is another possibility.

Another interesting note on pitch—have you noticed those funny videos when people are singing and the dog joins in, but he’s not matching their pitch? Instead he’s standing out on purpose. This goes all the way back to his ancient wolf ancestors. When a pack of wolves begins to howl, each member will have their own distinctive note in the chorus. Dogs do the same; even if your fur baby likes the music, he’ll pick his own, individual pitch to vocalize along with the you and the music, rather than singing the same pitch as you. So, what music is best for your dog? It may depend on his preferences. We’re not kidding! Some dogs may prefer classical music, such as Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart are some of the doggie favorites.

If your pup doesn’t seem to like classical music, then try reggae or soft rock, which also ranked near the top, according to research and dog preferences.

What Kind of Music Should I Leave on for my Dog?

That may depend on your fur baby’s listening preference and how he reacts when left home alone. Does he suffer from separation anxiety when you’re away? Then chances are that reggae or soft rock may be the best choices. If you’re not sure what type of music your pup may prefer, then you can do a test by playing some tunes and then watching his reaction. Now, it’s already a known fact that most dogs will not appreciate heavy metal or hard rock. So, it may be best to avoid these types of music. Instead, try classical, reggae or soft rock. If your dog seems to calm down more to one genre, then that’s the one to play.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with lots of loud noises, then maybe turning the music up a little bit, at a level that won’t disturb your neighbors. This can help to cover up some of the noises that may set your fur baby to barking.

There’s no need to go out and buy CDs, etc. You can easily find doggie playlists on sites such as Spotify, YouTube and more. Just find the doggie channels you like, create a playlist your pup will enjoy, and then have it playing while you’re away.

However, if you’re not sure what to play for your canine companion, then there are tunes available on CDs for dogs. You could try one of these:

Another interesting finding in the studies was that dog size can influence the type of music a dog prefers. For instance, smaller dogs seem to prefer music with higher notes in the melody lines. On the other hand, larger dogs seemed to respond better to tunes with lower notes.

The reasoning behind this is that the dogs may prefer the type of sounds they make or hear. Think about how a small dog sounds compared to a large dog. The smaller dog has a higher pitched bark, whereas, the large dog’s bark is lower pitched.

Music Therapy for Dogs

What is music therapy for dogs? It’s the use of music to help soothe and calm dogs, which is a non-invasive technique easily used in many facilities (shelters, vets’ offices, and at home). Can music be used for other situations, too? Yes, music therapy can be used to help dogs and puppies in many types of situations, not only when they’re home alone or in a shelter or kennel. In fact, many shelter workers have said that playing music not only helps calm down the dogs, but also increases the number of adoptions. The reason is because most of the chaos in the shelter is calmed down due to the music playing in the background. As a result, people tend to stick around longer and then end up adopting their fur ever fur baby. This results in more adoptions overall.

Calming music therapy can also work in these situations:

Music therapy has also been shown to help dogs that deal with chronic pain. Research has even shown that dogs suffering from chronic pain were able to reduce their pain medication due to music therapy. And music played just before or during bedtime also helped these dogs to become more comfortable at bedtime, and sleep better, too.

Anti-Anxiety Music for Dogs

Research has found some of the best anti-anxiety music for dogs is Bob Marley. No kidding—he’s a popular artist with pet parents, too! So, if your fur baby’s suffering from anxiety, maybe it’s time to turn on some Bob Marley reggae, then sit back and relax with your pup.

Maybe he’d feel better if you two sat on the couch together, and you gave him a belly rub, while you two enjoy the music. Dogs love nothing better than spending time with their pet parents. Your presence is the best medicine for your precious canine companion.

Devices to Play Music for your Pup

You’ll want to make sure your dog has the right music playing if you leave him. Remember that if he listens to heavy metal or hard rock, you may come home to a house filled with pillow stuffing everywhere, plants uprooted and chewed up, etc. So, be sure to play only calming music for your pup when he’s home alone. It’s OK to leave the TV or the radio on for your fur baby while you’re away from home. However, if you’d like to make sure he’s hearing the right type of music, then you can choose to use devices such as Google Home, Alexa, etc. to create playlists for your dog. Or if you have a smart TV, then it’s directly connected to the Internet, and you can setup the right playlist for the time you’ll out.

Another option is to use this Bluetooth device called Through a Dog’s Ear. This is a speaker that’s pre-loaded with 4 hours of music for your pup. It also comes with another additional micro SD card with more music to last while he’s home alone. The music on the device is especially created for dogs and works to relieve canine anxiety, etc. It has a 24 hour batter, which can be set to auto-repeat for continuous play. Music is a great way to help your dog deal with many issues including anxiety, destructive behaviors and more. It’s also a great way to soothe your pup’s chronic pain. So, create some playlists for your fur baby…maybe you can both sit and relax to the music together, too.

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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