Is Your Music Hurting Your Pet?

pets sound healing Jan 31, 2021

Today I want to let you in on a disturbing finding every pet owner needs to know.

I’d like to start by telling you about my little dog, Merf.

He’s by far the most popular member of our household.

Besides conniving to get more snacks, Merf likes to lay at my feet while I’m writing to you.

He also likes chilling with me on the couch, and contently listens as I softly strum my acoustic guitar.

But if I plug in my electric guitar…he’s outta there!

And it got me wondering... Do dogs prefer certain types of music more than others?

At first, I thought the idea might be a little far out. But after some research, I discovered some information I think every dog owner (and kennel) should know.

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Dogs prefer Mozart to Metallica

In 2012, researchers from Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine studied kenneled dogs to find out if certain types of music affect their stress levels and behaviors like barking and shaking.

They observed nearly 120 dogs over a four-month period, where researchers played a variety of music for them—from classical and heavy metal music.

What they observed was that, similar to humans, the dogs tended to sleep more and bark less when classical music was played.

And as you might imagine, when heavy metal was on, the dogs began to tremble and shake—indicating higher levels of agitation and stress.

Sorry, Metallica…

The surprising music genre dogs find even more soothing than a symphony

Then in 2017, a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow’s College of Veterinary and LIFE Sciences, took the research a step further by testing the effects of a few other genres of music on dogs—including soft rock, Motown, pop, reggae, and classical.

The researchers created six-hour playlists of each genre and conducted tests intermittently to measure the dog’s stress levels.

They made two important findings:

  1. While classical music produced similar relaxing effects as the 2012 study, the dogs displayed even more relaxation when soft rock and reggae was played.
  2. Dogs tend to become accustomed to music quickly—meaning, that if dogs hear the same few songs repeatedly, the stress relieving effect can wear off.

To help best soothe your dogs, researchers recommend increasing the number of different songs your dog hears so that the effect lasts longer for them (hence the researchers’ 6-hour playlists).

Today’s takeaway is that you should be mindful of how your music playing might be affecting your furry friends.

Generally speaking, fast, up-tempo songs with digital noises or heavy bass frequencies can spark your dog’s anxiety. But as the studies above revealed, soft rock, reggaes and slower classical music selections tend to be among the most relaxing for them.

Perhaps consider making your pet their own playlists to listen to while you’re not home!

Or if you prefer, feel free to use the ones I made for Merf:

Be sure to show your “good boy” or “good girl” some extra love today.

That’ll be it for me today. Merf’s telling me it’s time for lunch...


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Bowman, A., Scottish SPCA, Dowell, F., and Evans N. (2017). The effect of different genres of music on the stress levels of kennelled dogs. Physiology & Behavior. 171: pp. 201 – 215. Retrieved from: Kogan, L., Schoenfeld-Tacher, R., and Simon, A. (2012). Behavioral effects of auditory stimulation on kenneled dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: 7(5): pp. 268 – 275. Retrieved from:

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