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Puppy Love: The benefits of playing music to your dog
Throw the dog a bone
Friends and coworkers may help to brighten your day, but it is dogs who are truly man’s best friend. With their button noses, wagging tails and of course, puppy dog eyes, there’s nothing quite like the bond we have with our four-legged friends – but did you know it can also include a shared love of music?
In celebration of International Dog Day later this week, music licensing company, PPL PRS alongside leading dog food brand, tails.com explain more about the relationship dogs have with music and why playing it can be beneficial to both you and your canine companion.
“Music helps nearly every situation”1 explains Carolyn Menteith, resident behaviourist at tails.com. It can be used as a tool to make training more enjoyable, help with separation anxiety when dogs are left on their own, and can be used to help during stressful situations. This may be a trip to the vets, for example, or during firework displays – something that many pets find unnerving.
“A high proportion of [animals] suffer from noise phobia around firework season – and for many it is a time of real misery” explains Carolyn. Music however can be really helpful over the firework season as it can mask distant firework sounds and lessen their impact”. It can give pets and owners “something to listen to rather than just sitting and waiting for the next bang” and can help to create a more relaxed environment overall.
But what sort of music should you play to your dogs?
Top of the pups
Research suggests that although dogs tend to enjoy more soothing genres, such as classical, they also enjoy genres such as soft rock and reggae2 – not to mention the musical choices that their owners prefer.
“I certainly have seen dogs whose musical preferences mirror their owner’s” explains Carolyn. “So, I’ve seen musician’s dogs who seem to love the type of music – or instrument – their beloved human plays, and I’ve seen music lovers’ dogs enjoy everything from opera to heavy rock depending on their persons’ preference. This is probably more to do with sharing their owner’s enjoyment and pleasure – and that their human is far more relaxed and happier when listening to their choice of music. Music is a social experience – and it certainly seems our dogs share that.”
Delving deeper into the type of music dogs enjoy, it seems that many dogs enjoy different genres, different breeds have different preferences too. Labradors, for example, enjoy rock and pop while French Bulldogs prefer electro pop. Golden Retrievers on the other hand enjoy indie pop while Staffordshire Bull Terriers prefer rap and trap.3
So if you’re curious to find out what music your dog likes, and (more importantly) whether they enjoy the same music as you but are unsure on how to recognise a positive reaction, Carolyn suggests looking for “gentle tail wags or swaying, relaxed ears, and steady breathing with any wrinkling above their eyes or at the corners of the mouth smoothing away.
Dogs show how they are feeling through body language – whether excited, fearful, stressed or happy. A calm dog is relaxed and happy to chill out – just like us when we find music calming.”
Paws for thought
But just like we might enjoy listening to different music at different times, so might our dogs. If you are leaving your dog alone and this is something unusual to them, it could be a good idea to play something they find familiar and comforting for example.
Similarly, even thought it may be tempting to line up your smart speaker and blast your current favourite tracks to see what songs your dog enjoys best, it might be a good idea to ease them in gradually and work this into a routine – particularly if you aren’t playing music to them already.
As Dr Sean McCormack Veterinary expert at tails.com explains, “predictability and consistency in routine make dogs feel more settled and less anxious. So if that involves leaving the radio on when you leave, it’s a good habit to keep.”
These are just some of the ways music could be important to your dogs and how playing it could be of benefit to both you and your four-legged friend. To find out more and to discover what music your dog might enjoy visit our Pup Rock page.
From playing royalty free music to music out of copyright, you have some options. However,