Music is a gift for all to enjoy. Thanks to the vast variety of musical styles and genres, there’s something for everyone to love! But have you ever wondered if dogs and cats have the same appreciation for music as we do?
As it turns out, animals have some pretty interesting responses to the same music we know and love. While some pets may be completely indifferent to your tunes, others may show preference through behavioral responses. Researchers have done extensive studies on the topic of music and pets to illustrate which music pets tend to like best and why.
Some genres may affect your pet’s behavior
Some pet owners have discovered that playing certain tunes helps their pets calm down when they’re acting anxious or fearful. Studies have backed this theory, showing that kenneled dogs, in particular, slept more and were more relaxed when classical music was played.
On the flip side, certain genres of music might make your dog more agitated or fearful. Researchers have noted that dogs may appear more nervous when listening to more intense musical genres like heavy metal.
Human music is not all that appealing, though
In general, dogs tend to be influenced by human music more than cats do. Studies and anecdotal evidence have shown that cats appear indifferent around music that’s pleasing to the human ear, regardless of its genre. However, cats do react to music that’s specifically designed for them, including tempos and frequencies that mimic the ones cats themselves use to communicate.
Extended research on the topic of “species-specific” music shows that, although they may respond to human music to a point, dogs also react better to music specifically made for dogs. This makes sense when you think about what we prefer about music. Human music is created using pitches and tones that we use ourselves, so it is logical that dogs and cats would prefer music that uses their tones, pitches and tempos, as well.
What makes this even more interesting is that species-specific music for dogs actually ranges wildly, since dog breeds can have a variety of differences. Large dogs might prefer things that sound more like human music, while smaller dogs might be more inclined to jam to small-dog-specific tunes with higher pitches and faster beats.
Volume can play a role
One last thing to consider about music is not the type of music being played, but the volume it’s being played at. When you hear a song you really love, you might be tempted to crank up the volume as high as it can go. But if your beloved furry friend is in the room or the car with you, you might want to rethink that.
Both dogs and cats have profound hearing, so extremely loud volume might frighten them! If your dog or cat starts to cower, whimper, pull its ears back or even look for ways to leave the room, your music is probably far too loud for them.
Loud music can not only stress your pet out, but it can also cause hearing damage over time. Try to reduce the volume when your pets are near or use headphones, since it’s unlikely your pet will respond well to your music in general!
Experiment with your pet’s music tastes
Every dog and cat will respond to music a little differently. Some might not care at all, while others will get relaxed, excited or even bop along to the beat! If you haven’t tested whether your pet likes music, try leaving music on when you’re interacting with your pet or play it near your pet while it’s relaxing. Note its behaviors to certain musical types—does it appear happy, excited, relaxed, fearful or agitated? Or, does it simply not care at all?
If you find that a particular style of music, like classical, has a positive effect on your pet, you can definitely use that to your advantage! Leave classical music on when your pet is home alone to help it feel happy and calm.
Similarly, if you notice that your pet has an adverse reaction to a musical style, like heavy metal, you might want to avoid playing it around your pet to avoid agitation or anxiety.
If your human music doesn’t seem to have an effect on your pet, consider looking up some music made especially for dogs or for cats! Leaving this on when your pet is alone or acting nervous might be the trick to helping it relax.