Do Dogs Like Music?
Most of us have an appreciation for music and enjoy listening to different genres. Music can make us feel happy, relaxed, content, or help us to complete tasks that otherwise would seem boring. But do dogs have the same appreciation for music? This Holidays 4 Dogs article will consider the question of whether dogs like music.
New research suggests that dogs, do indeed, enjoy listening to certain types of music. Music can make dogs feel calm and can induce them to sleep for longer periods. It’s common for owners to leave music on for their dogs when they go out and, indeed, many rescue centres and veterinary establishments are now playing calming for kennelled dogs.
Tones and notes.
Just like people, research suggests that dogs also have preferences for certain types of musical genres. However, it is not so much the musical pieces that are important, but the tones and notes which dogs respond to. To illustrate the point of the effects of human music on animals, Charles Snowdon conducted research on tamarin monkeys.
He found that usual music that we listen to had little, or no effect, on the monkeys. However, in collaboration with a composer and cellist, he devised a piece of music which was based on the vocalisations of tamarin monkeys. Snowdon discovered that while the monkeys were listening to the sounds, they responded in similar ways as humans might when listening to soothing music. Thus, the monkeys spent more time in relaxing postures, ate more food and appeared to be calmed by the sounds. The research suggested, therefore, that music is not just a uniquely human occurrence.
Research carried out by animal behaviourist Deborah Wells, similarly found that dogs find specific types of music more relaxing. This generally tends to be certain types of classical music, although not always. Ambient sound, reflecting the tones of human speech, such as bird song, dogs barking, were the most effective in the study and caused the dogs to be notably more relaxed. This is the same for humans, since we generally enjoy music which falls within our own vocal range.
A good ear.
Just as some tones are disagreeable to humans, the same is true for dogs. Some dogs can become agitated by loud sounds, bangs, or repetitive notes. Dogs are capable of hearing a much wider range of frequencies than humans. While the human ear can only detect sound up to 23 kHz, the dog can hear up to 45 kHz. This is why your dog may react to noises that we can’t hear.
It also means, playing music too loud can be uncomfortable to a dog’s ear, no matter what the genre. There is also the suggestion that high-frequency radio waves can be distressing to a dog; as can electrical devices, such as vacuum cleaners. Although, machines such as this may not sound loud to the human ear; a dog might be frightened by high frequency sounds. This is why fearful, or excitable behaviour, is a fairly common reaction in dogs while their owners are hoovering.
As we have noted, some frequency sounds, typically between the range of 23 – 25,000 Hz cannot be heard by humans. However, dogs are often interested in these sounds, because they are not normally heard.
Pet food manufactures have even made use of this by including these sound frequency ranges in adverts aimed at pet owners. These specific sounds can attract dogs to the television set, which potentially draws the attention of dog owners fascinated by their dog’s behaviour.
Playing music can be valuable to certain individual dogs, or dogs living in a kennelled environment, such as rescue centres. While certain music can help to de-stress dogs, scientists also know that excess noise pollution can be as stressful to dogs as it is to humans. Busy cities, chaotic households, boarding kennels and rescue centres can all increase stress responses in dogs.
Some types and breeds of dogs can be more susceptible to certain sounds than others. It is therefore important to consider the effect of noise pollution on our dog’s well being. Televisions, electronic gadgets, games consoles, doorbells, traffic, aeroplanes, sirens etc – could all have an influence on the behaviour of our pet dogs.
On the other hand, music can have a very positive effect on our dog’s welfare by counteracting a stressful environment. There are even specific compilation C.D’s which many owners find invaluable for playing to nervous dogs during firework night, for example.
Research into the effects of sounds on all animals, particularly farm animals and those in captivity, are extremely valuable and have a very worthwhile impact on the future of animal welfare in an increasingly digital world.