Has your canine companion ever howled when a certain song plays on the radio? Do you leave a radio on to comfort him while you’re away from home? While it is proven music can significantly impact our mood, does it do the same for our dogs? As it turns out, your furry friend could have equally significant reactions to music, and may even have a favorite song! But just because your favorite song may be a Pink Floyd tune, chances are your dog does not share your musical taste.
A University of Wisconsin animal psychologist discovered dogs prefer tunes specially designed using the pitches, tempos and tones that are familiar to their species. People are drawn to music that falls within our audio and vocal ranges, uses tones we find familiar, and has a tempo similar to that of our own heartbeat. To dogs, the majority of our music is unrecognizable as their vocal and heart rates are very different from our own. In fact, studies have shown popular, fast-paced, instrument-heavy music – such as hard rock – encourages dogs to bark and display anxiety, while soft and steady classical tunes – not quite as mainstream these days – encourage them to remain calm and relaxed. Pop music did not produce behaviors much different from when there was no music at all.
“When there are dogs and music, people have a good time.”
If you answered “yes” to the question of your dog howling when a certain song plays, it is likely due to wind instruments in the piece. At times, a human holding a long note may produce the same response from Rover. It is suspected these pitches sound like howls to your pooch and he feels the need to respond or join in on the conversation.
Do you leave a radio on for Fido when you’re not home? While he may not care about the music being played, the sound itself may offer him peace-of-mind. Choose a station that specializes in calm, soothing music – give Pandora’s “Classical Relaxation” or “Spa” station a try. The sound may relax your pooch, especially if he has a tendency to scare from outside noises. It can also reduce general stress, which can lead to behavioral and psychological issues.
While it isn’t the music itself dogs seem to enjoy or dislike, it is the musical elements within the song that produce a discernible reaction. Just because your four-legged friend probably does not enjoy the same music you do, the right style of music can provide important benefits such as stress reduction and comfort.