Do you remember a time when you experienced a mood lift and behavioral change after listening to your favorite music? Undoubtedly, music has a powerful effect on us all, whether it’s a little lift from a country tune, a soothing feel from a classical music, or an adrenaline pump from a rock anthem.
Studies have shown that music can help individuals with stroke or Parkinson’s disease because it stimulates neurological functions and controls deficits, like verbal control.
Having known how beneficial music can be on humans, you tend to wonder, “Does music have the same effect on dogs’ behavior? Does it has any positive benefits?”
The truth is that dogs have a stronger and better hearing than us. These four-legged pets can perceive frequencies almost twice as better than humans and they can hear sounds four times a distance.
Now imagine, “Why do you think your dog runs frantically to the front door even before you hear the doorbell rings?” Well, it’s simply because dogs can perceive frequencies up to 40, 000 hertz and hear sounds 80 feet away, while humans can only perceive sound frequencies between 20 to 20,000 hertz.
Sounds in form of music have a greater effect on dogs far more than you can imagine.
How does music affect your dog’s behavior?
One study conducted by Lori Kogan et al., 2012, observed for behavioral effects of auditory stimulation on kenneled dogs. The study found that playing classical music to dogs kept in kennels produced positive effects in reducing psychogenic stressed caused by the environment.
The research found that classical music not only helps alleviate behavioral shifts in dogs, but also lower heart rates and reduce anxiety.
Ideally, music sends sound vibration which is picked by the dog’s brain to trigger a response that could affect psychology and behavioral changes.
For example, playing loud melody can cause a boost in adrenaline, while a gentler music produce relaxing effects on your dog’s nervous systems. For this reason, we get to understand that music therapy can effectively help to reduce stress levels of dogs at home, in our cats, at the vet, or in the shelters.
Benefits of music therapy for dogs
Dogs are delicate creatures and their psychological status can be easily affected by stressors like loud noises. You might have noticed how your dog dashes under the bed or table following a loud thunderstorm. Strangers can also trigger anxiety in your pooches.
Unfortunately, fear, anxiety, and destructive behavior all have a negative effect on your dog’s brain and overall quality of life.
However, music has been shown by many studies to effectively help dogs cope with these conditions in a safe and non-invasive manner.
Apart from stress and anxiety, music has been shown to help alleviate pain in dogs suffering from chronic pain.
Playing classical music or other soothing genre, allows your dog to sleep more comfortably in a calming environment.
Just as you love watching movies in theatres, playing online games or simply listening to music, pets respond to the same stimuli.
Little wonder, you often hear soothing music played in the waiting area of a veterinary clinic.
Science has shown that soothing music offers great benefit on the psychological wellbeing of pets such as dogs.
As soothing music is played in the waiting area of a vet clinic, it helps calm every dogs that comes in and reduce their anxiety.
Generally, animal shelters have been studied to have psychogenic stressors on dogs. So, playing classical music is a good way to help the animals calm down in shelters.
As a dog owner, when you see signs of stress or anxiety in your dogs at home, you can try playing music to see if they would feel better.
Some common body languages that show your pup is scared include:
- Stress yawning
- Trying to hide out-of-sight or in plain sight
- Avoiding eye contact
Why do dogs howl to the sound of music?
You may become startled when you see your dog croon along to Celine Dion, but why do they do these? Why does you pooch howl to the sound of music? No one knows for sure.
But dogs do howl to music just like they do when they hear the sound of sirens. To your pooch, the music sounds like another dog howling around them and their instinct tells them to join in.
Does that mean Celine Dion sounds like a dog? Not really! It’s just that hear much wider range than we do. They hear tones far and below what we can detect with our ears. So you can’t really know what music sounds like to your feline companion.
Apart from howling, dogs can react in other ways, from barking, to being agitated, staying calm, and more.
However, you should keep in mind that dogs do enjoy music. And interestingly, they do have preferences based on their personality differences.
What kind of music do dogs like most?
Several kinds of studies have observed for the reaction of dogs to different genres of music.
In the study, dogs who listened to the sound of heavy metal or grunge music became agitated and started barking uncontrollably.
But when classical music was played, their mood and behavior changed and they became calm and more relaxed.
When pop music was played, the dogs had little to no reaction at all.
So based on this study and several other research conducted to learn the effect of music on dogs, classical sounds is still the most relaxing.
Here’s a tip for you — If you want your dog to relax and feel good, you can play them Mozart or Beethoven.
But note that classical music is not the only genre that has positive effect on your dog’s behavior and mental state.
Some studies have shown that reggae and soft rock genres produced lowest stress levels in dogs.
So when choosing a musical track for your dog, always remember to use your better judgment, and don’t forget, the calmer the better.
If you observe that your dog starts to bark or look a little agitated the moment you start playing a music, the song may be too hyper for them and it is advisable that you stop it.
Plus, when a music is too loud, whether a fast genre or even the soft classical music, it may cause your dog to suffer anxiety and stress.
So it is better to play music at a moderate volume, and it sounds loud to you, chances are that it would be louder for your dog.
When is the best time to play music for dogs?
So many factors can cause stress in your dogs. It can be long period alone at home, firecrackers, thunderstorms, and more.
You might have observed how your dog becomes anxious anytime you’re getting ready to leave the house.
Anyways, whenever you notice stress in your dog, it is a good time to play a little bit of soft music to hemp them relax and know that they are safe. You can even join them to enjoy the music.
A study showed that dogs who listened to music with their owners felt better and less stressed when left alone as the music continues to play.
So music is a good therapy to calm your dog when you’re away.
Music has a lot of positive effects on a dog’s behavior. In fact, classical sounds have been proven over a thousand times, literally, to help keep a dog calm and relaxed. And it has been an effective way to ward off fear, anxiety, and traumas.
Just remember to choose the right type of music for your pooch and keep the volume pretty low.
You can share with us your dog’s reaction to music in the comment section below.