Do Dogs Like Music?

Many of us play relaxing music or calming music for our dogs (especially when we leave them home alone), but is this the kind of music that dogs really like?


Most dogs really do like music, but just like most humans, they like some, but not all kinds of music. What dog owners tend to appreciate most is when dogs find music to have a calming or relaxing effect on their dogs.

It’s understandable that dog owners would be interested in using music to facilitate calmness; it’s a zero-cost intervention that helps their dogs become the well-behaved companions they would like them to be! And there is evidence that some music does indeed help dogs relax. A 2002 study found that dogs appeared significantly less agitated after listening to selections of classical music. Their breathing slowed and they were less likely to pace around or remain standing. Researchers found that reggae and soft rock selections also had a calming effect on dogs.

In contrast, short, quick notes tended to increase a dog’s rapid motor movements. Even worse, heavy metal resulted in tremors and shaking – definitely not calming! Some variety is also important; dogs apparently tune out music that they hear all time, even the calming classical music; it loses its relaxing effect if it is too repetitous.

One important note, however: Not all classical music is soothing! Think of the rousing sounds of the William Tell Overture (which most of us older Americans know as the theme music of the Lone Ranger galloping across the prairie on his trusty white stallion). Be sure to look for calm, meditative music if you want to take advantage of the potential relaxation benefits on your dog’s behavior.

Find Your Dog’s Calming Music

So where can you find this magic calming music? Here are a few sources for relaxing dog music are:

  • iCalmPet claims that its calming music downloads are “psychoacoustically designed to support your dog’s nervous system function.” We know, at the very least, they are relaxing for us to listen to!
  • Spotify has a tool that allows you to create a pet playlist for your dog.
  • Youtube has several sites that provide long hours of calming music. Here is a link to a 12-hour playlist from Relax My Dog.

Does Dog Calming Music Work

If you are a skeptic like me, you might be asking if calming music really works for dogs. The evidence from several studies certainly seems to support that conclusion. In one study, shelter dogs barked significantly less in their kennels when calming music was played. And I can tell you this personal story:

I had a client whose dog was anxiety-stressed to the max. This poor dog paced and panted nonstop for 90 minutes of our two-hour consult as we discussed and practiced protocols to reduce her anxiety. Then I turned on the iCalmDog player, and in less than a minute the dog laid down under the table with her head on her paws and her eyes closed, and stayed there for our remaining 30 minutes.

Will it help all dogs? Maybe not. But as I tell my clients all the time… can’t hurt, might help – and it’s well worth a try. Yours might well be one that it does help!

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Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.