Dogs are a lot like humans in many ways. This includes their love for music. Research has shown that dogs respond best to slower, quieter types of music. They respond to this form of music by being quieter and more relaxed. On the flip side, when exposed to heavy metal, they appear more agitated, tending to bark more frequently.
How to Use Music With Your Dog
Gradually introduce your dog to music. As the Care.com website suggests, dogs, just like their human counterparts, learn to associate different things with individual events. So if you’re not careful, dogs will tend to associate music with a stressful situation, and that will totally defeat the purpose of playing it in their presence.
Instead, introduce music when their emotions seem positive, and more relaxed. For instance, music can be played at meal times, or as a prelude to meal times, training, or nap times. Do it gradually, and not all at once. And be sure it’s the kind they are most likely to like. Substitute Brahms for Metallica. For remember, just because you might like heavy metal, it doesn’t mean that they do. In fact studies have shown that heavy metal stresses our canine friends out. And as a response to being constantly stressed, don’t be surprised that behaviors such as frequent barking begin to manifest.
You can also use another stimulate, such as massaging your dog with a brush or mit, along with playing them relaxing music. This will help associate a pleasurable experience to the music and can significantly reduce signs of anxiety and irritation.
Do Dogs Really Respond to Music?
The answer is an unequivocal Yes. In fact, research, as cited in an article in Psychology Today, shows that a dog howls in response to music. That is his attempt to sing as only a dog can. This can be taken as a sign that the canine likes what he is hearing. While many associates were howling with a negative emotion, such as sadness, dogs howl to show that they are trying to keep pitch with human singers. Or, as research cited in Psychology today, the howling may be an indicator that the dog knows he is off-key with his human counterparts, but enjoys that fact.
A dog’s howl also may be a reaction to certain instruments other than vocals produced by humans. Dogs have reportedly howled at instruments such as the violin, as well as instruments such as the saxophone and the clarinet.
In this video below, you can see just how well this dog reacts when a song comes on that he knows very well. It’s pretty impressive….
Also, there’s the story of a dog named Dan, owned by a church organist named Dr. George Robinson Sinclair, who would growl when a choir member sang in some other key than his part indicated. Maybe the dog didn’t know what note he or she should have been singing; the dog just probably knew something didn’t sound right.
How Certain Musical Arrangements Make Dogs Feel
According to research cited by Dr. Patricia McConnell, longer notes seem to have a calming effecting on a stressed-out dog, while shorter, more staccato notes seem to stimulate them. Pure tones and regular rhythms have a positive effect on dogs, while harsh, noisy ones are associated with negativity. Also noteworthy is the finding that tempos matching an animal’s natural resting heart rate can be calming.
Dogs listening to such songs as Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata, as well as other classic songs, seemed to be asleep 3.7 to 6.0 percent of the time, as compared to periods of no music 1.1 percent of the time. Also, as for the more traditional Dog’s Ear music, canines were observed sleeping 1.4 percent of the time. If you want to induce sleep in a dog, stay away from heavy metal, pop and especially hip hop. The constant deep bass thumping from the hip hop drums in a song, will most likely keep your dog awake, agitated, or even worse, (for you) barking.
Dogs and humans have pronounced tastes in music. If nothing else, our canine friends know that some types of music create an atmosphere of peace, while others contribute to one of chaos. Classical pieces like Brahms Lullaby can put a dog to sleep, while “Cum On Feel the Noise” by Quiet Riot, can not only wake a dog up but cause him to shake, suggesting that he is ill at ease.
Thus repeated studies have indicated that dogs not only have taste in music but specific preferences as well. They tend to like classical music, especially the kind that has a peaceful feel to it and tend not to like music that disrupts that peace. A dog owner would do well to consider this the next time he is shopping for new CDs.