Can Dogs Benefit from Listening to Classical Music and How?

From the American Kennel Club (AKC) to a variety of scholarly studies, pet professionals and researchers alike have delved into the relationship between dogs and music. With a particular focus on classical music, these studies aim to understand its effects on a dog’s behavior, stress, and anxiety levels. In this article, we will explore the compelling evidence and insights suggesting that our canine friends may indeed benefit from listening to classical music.

The Science Behind Dogs and Music

Before delving into the specifics of classical music, let’s first explore the fundamental question: can dogs even perceive and understand music? While it’s clear that dogs lack the ability to appreciate music in the same way humans do, they do have a keen sense of hearing that goes beyond our own. This sense allows them to perceive a wide range of sounds, including music.

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Research reveals that dogs, like humans, react to the rhythm and tempo of music. Specifically, they respond to the emotional content of music. A study published in the journal ‘Animal Behavior’ found that dogs could distinguish between different types of music and showed behaviors associated with the emotions conveyed by the music. This phenomenon is known as emotional contagion, and it influences not just a dog’s emotions, but also its behavior.

Classical Music and Its Calming Effect on Dogs

Now that we understand that dogs can indeed perceive and react to music, let’s examine the impact of classical music on our furry friends.

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A 2002 study by the Scottish SPCA and University of Glasgow found that dogs displayed more relaxed behavior when they listened to classical music. The dogs spent more time lying down, less time standing, and their stress-related behaviors, such as barking or pacing, significantly decreased.

Similarly, another study conducted by the Colorado State University found that shelter dogs exposed to classical music had significantly reduced stress levels, as measured by their heart rates, saliva cortisol levels, and behavior scoring.

These findings suggest that classical music can have a calming effect on dogs, reducing their anxiety and stress levels.

How to Introduce Classical Music to Your Dog

Introducing classical music to your dog for the first time requires a thoughtful approach. Start by playing the music at a low volume, gradually increasing it over time. Note that dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, so you should always keep the volume at a level comfortable for them.

Choose music with a slow tempo and soft dynamics. The aim is to create a calming atmosphere for your pet. Classical pieces like Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ or Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’ are often recommended.

Pay close attention to your dog’s behavior while the music is playing. If they show signs of discomfort, such as whining or pacing, turn the music off and try again another time.

Selecting the Best Classical Music for Your Dog

Not all classical music is created equal, and what works for one dog might not work for another. The key is to find the type of classical music that your dog responds to best.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing classical music for your dog:

  1. Tempo: Slow-tempo pieces, such as adagios and largos, are usually more calming for dogs than faster pieces.
  2. Instrumentation: Some dogs might prefer the sound of certain instruments. For instance, the soft, soothing tones of a piano or harp might be more calming than the brighter, more intense sounds of brass instruments.
  3. Dynamics: Music with gentle dynamics is usually better for relaxation. Loud, dramatic pieces might be too stimulating or even frightening for some dogs.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a serene environment for your dog. The best classical music for your pet is one that helps them feel relaxed and at ease.

Through this article, it’s evident that dogs indeed benefit from listening to classical music. Various studies and real-life experiences show that classical music can help decrease stress and anxiety levels in dogs, promoting a more relaxed and peaceful behavior. So, next time your furry friend seems a bit stressed or anxious, consider putting on some classical tunes. It might be the soothing remedy they need.

The Impact of Other Types of Music on Dogs

Beyond classical music, researchers have also delved into the effects of other music genres on dogs. For instance, a study by the University of Glasgow and Scottish SPCA found that dogs responded differently to varying types of music.

This study exposed dogs to different music genres, including reggae, soft rock, pop, Motown, and heavy metal, for a period of five days. The results revealed that dogs spent the most amount of time lying down (an indicator of relaxation) while listening to reggae and soft rock.

However, it wasn’t just the genre that impacted the dogs. The study also found that the dogs had different reactions depending on the individual characteristics of the music. For example, music with a faster tempo elevated the dogs’ heart rate and caused them to stand up more often, suggesting increased stress levels. On the other hand, music with a slower tempo and mellower vibe led to more relaxed behaviors.

Despite these findings, it’s crucial to note that dogs, like humans, have individual music preferences. A type of music that one dog finds soothing might not have the same effect on another dog. Therefore, pet owners should observe their dogs’ reactions when introducing them to different types of music and adjust accordingly.

The Role of Music Therapy in Dog Training and Dog Sports

Music therapy is not only beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety levels in dogs, but it can also be a valuable tool in dog training and dog sports.

Dog trainers and sports enthusiasts often use auditory stimulation to enhance performance, build concentration, and create a positive training environment. For example, playing calming music during training sessions can help dogs focus and respond better to commands. In dog sports, music can be used to boost the morale of the dog and create a rhythm for their performance.

Furthermore, music can be an effective solution for separation anxiety, a common issue among dogs. By playing calming music when leaving the house, dog owners can help their pets feel more relaxed and less anxious.

Lastly, music can also enhance a dog’s wellbeing and quality of life, especially for dogs in shelters. By incorporating classical music into their daily routine, shelters can create a more relaxed and less stressful environment for the dogs, improving their chances of adoption.


In conclusion, music, particularly classical music, can indeed have significant positive impacts on dogs. From decreasing stress levels to aiding in dog training, music is a potent tool in improving a dog’s overall wellbeing.

However, it’s paramount to remember that each dog is unique and might respond differently to various music genres and pieces. Therefore, introducing and discovering the type of music your dog enjoys should be a gradual and mindful process.

The evidence supporting the benefits of music for dogs is compelling, and the potential applications are diverse and exciting. While we may never know if dogs appreciate music in the same way humans do, it’s clear that they are sensitive to it in their own way. So, whether your dog prefers the soft melodies of a piano sonata or the rhythmic beats of a reggae song, one thing is for sure: music can indeed make a difference in our furry friends’ lives.

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