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Can Music Calm Dogs Down? The Effect Music Can Have on Dogs | Pupford

June 27th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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If you’ve ever held a solo concert in the car during a road trip or let your favorite Broadway soundtrack get you through a day of chores, then you very much know the impact music can have on people.

But does music have the same effect on dogs?

Those of us who have music as part of their daily routine are likely curious whether or not their dog notices – or enjoys it too. Since quite a few people in our communities have asked the same, we thought we’d tackle that today.

Read on to find out:

  • Do dogs understand music?
  • Do dogs enjoy listening to music?
  • What effect(s) does music have on dogs?
  • Ways to utilize music in your dog’s life

So go ahead and turn down the volume for now so you can read more – we promise you can get back to your playlist soon.


music for dog separation anxiety

We know that dogs have a fantastic sense of hearing. In fact, they can hear sounds that are up to four times farther away than human ears can. While we know they can certainly hear music being played, can they understand what it is?

This is a pretty straightforward answer – yes! Dogs understand music.

Unless your dog has a hearing issue, they absolutely can tell when you have music playing and can distinguish it from voices and other household sounds.

And, as we’ll get into a little more in the next section, they can tell the difference between different types of music and be affected by it just like people can.

Is that a good or bad thing? Well, it all depends on what type of music you listen to…


As we mentioned before, this question has a little bit more complex of an answer – it depends.

It depends on two main factors. First, your dog’s personality and temperament. Some are more sensitive to sounds than others and have stronger emotional responses to stimuli.

The other deciding factor is the type of music your dog is listening to.

How do we know this? Scientists were curious too, so they did some studies.

Psychologist Deborah Wells of Queens University in Belfast wrote an article summarizing research where dogs in shelters were exposed to modern pop music, classical music, and heavy metal music while in their living quarters.

music that helps to calm down dog

Here’s a summary of the results:

  • The dogs exposed to heavy metal music had higher levels of barking and agitated body language 
  • The dogs exposed to the classical music seemed calmer than the other dogs
  • The dogs exposed to modern pop music did not show any notable behavior changes or patterns

Interesting, right? It seems that just as different genres of music can make us feel ways, the same holds true for our dogs.

And in terms of what music dogs like, it seems like they are fans of classical music (there’s a Beethoven tie-in in here somewhere!). But much like parents of angsty teens, they don’t particularly care for loud and aggressive heavy rock music. Soft rock, pop, folk, etc. – seems like they could take it or leave it.

Much like human babies, it seems like dogs enjoy the music they find calming.


Wells’ article along with many other similar studies seem to reveal a common conclusion: music can affect a dog’s emotions.

As highlighted in the research, classical music and heavy metal music seem to be the most influential – with gentle classical promoting a sense of calm and harder genres eliciting tension, reactivity, and stress.

So the next time you want to help your dog’s emotions adjust one way or another, open up your favorite music app or even dust off that old cassette player.


dog with headphones on to see the effect music can have on dogs

Now that you have a good understanding of how your dog is affected by music, you can use it as another tool in their everyday life.

Here are some ways to utilize music in your dog’s life:

  • Soothing separation issues. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety or doesn’t do well when left home alone, putting on music for your dog can lower their stress levels.
  • Helping your dog adjust to major life changes. If music becomes a familiar source of comfort to your dog, it can help them through major life changes like a move or the loss of a family member. Think of music as similar to their crate or favorite toy – something that shows them that not everything is changing and restores a sense of predictability when things are unfamiliar.
  • Drowning out scary sounds. This is super relevant right now with the 4th of July around the corner! If your dog gets stressed or reactive around sounds like fireworks, you can use calming music to help them remain calm, alongside other desensitization and counterconditioning methods.
  • Providing comfort in stressful situations. Is your dog not a fan of the car or bath? Playing music during not-so-enjoyable moments can help your dog get through them. (PS - we also love using a lick mat for distraction and comfort during bathing and grooming!)
Need more help keeping your dog calm? Check out our Calming Supplement for Dogs and Puppies. 

When it comes to using music for your dog, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. First, we recommend you rotate through different playlists and songs. While keeping music within the classical or soft rock genres will maintain the calming effect, you want to make sure your dog can respond to not just a handful of songs that they become familiar with.
  2. Also, be sure to press play during happy and calm moments, not just when your dog is stressed and needs help. Since dogs learn by association, we don’t want to run the risk of unintentionally teaching our dogs that playing music means a stressful situation is happening or about to happen.

So if you’re one of the many people who love music and enjoy having it part of your everyday routine, keep on rocking! Just be mindful of the types of songs you play, and maybe save the hard rock and metal sessions for when your dog isn’t around – we hear it can work wonders for traffic jams anyway.

Check out this calming playlist for dogs on Spotify, and let us know your dog’s reaction in the comments!


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