Music Matters

Music. We humans love music, whether that is listening to it at home, whilst driving and at work- almost anywhere we go we are happy to hear music playing. Many feel the inclusion of music in our lives brings fun, joy and can even encourage us to feel calm and content. So if you share your home with a dog, have you ever wondered how your canine friend feels about your musical choices?

Many dog owners will leave the radio on at home for the listening pleasure or the company it provides their dogs. We have a tendency to project our own desires onto our animals so we can liken our canine's likes and dislikes to our own but Charles Snowdon, an animal psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says animals march to the beat of their own drum. More precisely, they respond to species-specific music – music that uses the pitches, tones and tempos that feel familiar to them. When humans most appreciate music it normally falls into the category of our own acoustic and vocal range, has recognizable tones and a tempo similar to the rhythm of a human heartbeat.

So what does this mean for dogs?

According to Snowdon if we were to create music specifically for dogs on this basis it would be  complicated because there are so many breeds and they vary greatly in size, vocalization sounds and heart rates.

But since large breed dogs actually have vocal ranges similar to adult male humans, the researchers hypothesize that big dogs are probably more interested in human music than smaller breeds!

Soothing tones

Several animal rescue centres and even veterinary practices have tried playing soothing music to calm their doggy residents and harp playing musician Alianna Boone has put this theory into practice in one vet clinic with the result of hospitalised pooches with a lowered heart rate!

However choose your selection of music carefully as according to Deborah Wells, a psychologist at Queen’s University in Belfast who has researched canine response to human music, dogs do have emotional responses to human music. They behave differently when they hear different types of music. Soothing music (typically classical) tends to create relaxation in dogs, where heavy metal tunes often result in agitated behaviors!

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