You may have seen several Tiktoks that feature dogs howling along to popular songs, but are they actually enjoying what they are hearing? Do they understand what they are listening to when they are with their humans while we listen to our favorite tunes with them?
There is a lot of mystery around how dogs relate to music, but there are also several studies that have proven that there are a few reasons why they would have a positive connection with the art form. Just like people, there are special cases where a dog might not like music, but they generally welcome it!
What's known for a fact is that dogs have better and more sensitive hearing than we do, so they can definitely hear the songs we play, including the vocals and the instrumentation.
Dogs can hear a much wider range of pitches than humans can, with capabilities of hearing between 47 and 44,000 Hz. Humans, on the other hand, can only hear between 20 and 20,000 Hz, so things that create very high overtones in music and sound, in general, are giving your furry friend a more intense listening experience.
What's still in the realm of uncertainty is how much of the mechanics behind the music is recognizable to their ears. Can dogs learn to recognize the difference between a major and a minor scale? Does a dog appreciate hearing a riff done on an instrument?
Multiple studies have been done that show dogs having a positive reaction to music, but there is also some question about whether humans are projecting their love for music onto canines when they could be, in fact, responding for other reasons besides liking the creative sides of music.
When you hear dogs howling along to your favorite playlist on Spotify or Apple music, they may just be howling for the fun of it because their sensitive ears are recognizing a higher note that they can almost match in pitch. The howl may be because they think there is another animal nearby, not because they love that song.
But while there is still a lot of unknown about how they are processing the art of music, there is definitely a link between a dog's mood and music that can be harnessed positively for all of those dog lovers out there.
Dogs often have direct responses to listening to music, and plenty of studies, including one where the famous classical piece "Four Seasons" was used to ease their stress, and playing the harp around a few canines had a positive effect on their emotional state well.
Dogs, like little humans, are also very perceptive about what those around them like, so they can see when their beloved owners are having a positive reaction to something like music and will feel comfortable chiming in, helping the bond grow.
"It is well established that music can influence our moods," says psychologist Deborah Wells at Queen’s University Belfast. "Classical music, for example, can help to reduce levels of stress, whilst grunge music can promote hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue."
Soothing genres of all types, including soul music, electronic music, and of course, classical music, can be a great choice for your dog. If you want a good idea of where to start, there is actually a popular Spotify page dedicated to Dog Music featuring a lot of chilled jams in different genres.
Start with some of the most relaxed sounds, including classical music, reggae, and smooth jazz, if you want to introduce your dog to music without throwing them off with a genre that is too jarring.
“Like humans, there will be individual differences between how dogs react to music,” says Kayla Fratt, the founder of Journey Dog Training and certified dog behavior consultant. “Generally, studies point to the idea that music can help soothe dogs and get them to relax.”
You can test out heavier things like metal and rap, too, because you never know, your dog may just absolutely love those too, but the more relaxing sounds are more of a sure thing that they can appreciate.
You also want to be very mindful of the volume levels you are playing the music at, since, again, doggie ears are super sensitive. People play music too loud for their ears already, so you can imagine that a lot of music gets played at levels that are too loud for a dog.
Sound is commonly measured by decibels, also known as dB. If you want to make sure you aren't doing any damage to your dog, try to keep your dB levels under a certain amount. This will help your dog's health and your own health in the long run.
A whispered tone is around 30 dB, and an average spoken voice level is about 60 dB. On the higher end, a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. A dog's bark is said to be too loud for dogs and humans at around 100 dB+.
With headphones or loudspeakers, we often go too far with our music levels and hit over 100 dB. Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may cause damage to you or your dog's hearing.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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