Study: dogs love music⁠—and their favorite genre is classical

There’s no doubt that dogs are putting their paws in the music world.

Laurie Anderson famously held a concert specifically for dogs in Times Square, and hundreds of music videos contain dogs. (I personally think every music video should have doggos in, but we’ll save that debate for another day.)

You might’ve heard the urban legend that classical music helps dogs to relax.

But is it really true? Do dogs like listening to music--and more importantly, can it help stressed pups to calm down?

Does classical music really calm dogs?

The short answer: Yes!

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior monitored how a kenneled dogs react to different types of music. They tested classical, rock, and other music genres, and found that “classical music leads to kenneled dogs spending more time sleeping, and less time vocalizing than when exposed to other music types or no music.”

It’s not just this report proving its impact, though. Another study by the Scottish SPCA and Glasgow University found that dogs who listen to music:

  • Display more relaxed behavior (such as barking less)
  • Have better cardiovascular control
  • Have lower levels of stress hormones

(They also found that dogs become bored if they listen to the same music over and over again… Just like humans.)

The bottom line? Classical music does calm dogs and help them feel more relaxed.

So much so, that the 2012 report concluded: “It is suggested that playing classical music in a shelter environment may help mitigate some of the stress inherent for many kenneled dogs.”

Do dogs like rock music?

The same research paper found that rock music has the opposite effect of classical music. It found that heavy metal music increases body shaking--a behavior that could indicate nervousness. It’s more common when listening to rock music than other types of music.

Interestingly, the kenneled dogs didn’t have any reaction to pop music.

When should I play classical music for my dog?

You don’t want your electric bill to go through the roof, but you want to play classical music that’s proven to relax your dog.

So, when should you opt for the radio--and when isn’t it needed?

You could play classical music when:

  • You leave the room: Some dogs might have separation anxiety; they feel anxious when they’re left alone. Try to build up their resistance to being alone by leaving them in a room for short bursts of time whilst playing classical music. It won’t cure their anxiety, but it’s bound to help soothe them.
  • In the car: For some pups, the car can be a frightening place--especially if they associate it with going to the vets. When socializing them in the car, play classical music in the background to help calm their nerves, and teach them that it’s a safe space… Not somewhere to be frightened of!
  • There are loud noises outside: Bonfire night, New Years, or 4th July celebrations all come with fireworks. And while they’re nice to look at, they’re not nice to hear. Some pups can be terrified of the sound that fireworks make. Why not play some classical music to drown it out?

Personally, I try to play classical music for my Sprocker puppy, Hugo, whenever I go out. We live on a building site at the minute, so it blocks out some of the noise for him. The constant noise of trucks, diggers, and general building noise can be frightening without anything to drown it out.

3 places to find relaxing music for dogs

Now you know that certain types of music helps dogs to relax, you might be searching for playlists you can keep on in the background. (After all, playing Fur Elise on loop can quickly get annoying.)

Here are three places you can find relaxing, classical music--designed especially for dogs:

iCalm Dog

One of the most popular music platforms created specifically for dogs is iCalm.

They have calming music for all animals (including cats and people!), all of which is psychoacoustically-arranged and clinically-tested. That means the music your pup is listening to is actually proven to help dogs relax.

iCalm Dog have a range of music programs you can purchase through their site. Or, you can listen for free through their YouTube channel or Spotify account.

Spotify’s Songs for Dogs

Sounds crazy, right? But hear me out.

The music streaming platform Spotify found out about the positive impact that classical music can have on dogs, so they put together a playlist containing the type of music research has shown they prefer.

Paws, Play, Relax

Earlier, we mentioned a study by the Scottish SPCA that mentioned how dogs benefit from listening to music.

The team who did the research study put together an album containing music found to help dogs relaxed.

It’s called Paws, Play, Relax, and it’s available to purchase via their website. All of the money raised through the album goes towards their animal welfare charity, which takes care of animals before rehoming them, or letting them go back into the wild.

As you can see, the link between dogs and music is clear: Pups love listening to it. They enjoy some genres more than others, feel calm listening to classical music, but quickly get bored if they hear it time and time again.

So, try a few of the music sources we’ve shared and start to test them on your dog. Spot whether their behavior changes when they hear it. If not, switch to something else and do the same thing.

You’ll soon see which genre of music your dog loves listening to--and you’ll bond on the journey to find it!

  1. 4 years ago

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Elise!

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