Dog Health & Care

How Music for Dogs Influence Their Brains

Music for dogs can influence their brains, even with the simplest of tones, by affecting a group of distinct neurological processes. Whether it is the dog’s owner or the family dog itself, soul stirring music like “The Leave Taking” from the Lord of the Rings or “Trains and Winter Rains” by Enya can affect both in the same way.

How dogs hear music

Areas that are affected by the sounds of music begin with the auditory cortex, soaking in the sound of music through the ears which assess the pitch and volume of  sound. In 1961, a study entitled “Frequency arrangement of anterior ectosylvian auditory cortex of dog” found that “low frequencies produced spikes ventrocaudally and higher frequencies produced spikes dorsocephalically…Considerable variation was found between animals and this variation was thought to be due to development of the nervous system.”  The threshold data for the dog in the study agrees in absolute values to the minimum audible pressure levels for human hearing.

"Miss Holly Higgins listening to Tolkien music during her nap"

There are all types of dog music online with one goal, dog calming music or dog relaxation music. Relaxing dog music is used by kennel owner, private dog owners, shelters, therapy dogs, and by trainers working with dogs who have become traumatized.

This is because dog hearing can absorb a wider range of sounds than humans, allowing the dog to pinpoint the exact origin the sound is coming from in ultra-high frequencies—working for or against the dog.

Certain dog breeds are excellent for rescue-and-search teams for emergencies, as they can hear the whisper of a dying person miles beneath cement and layers of dirt that is superior to human hearing. On the other hand, other parts of the brain deal with hearing music differently.

People like to listen to music that has a nice rhythm, yet in dogs and humans it connects in a minor way to the auditory cortex.  The cerebellum and cerebral cortex are added areas to the auditory cortex with more complex rhythm, while a simple 1:2 rhythm simply involves the left frontal cortex, left parietal cortex and the right cerebellum.

How different types of music affects dogs

Different types of music affects dogs in different ways. Harsh and very loud heavy rock music can provoke agitation and nervousness in dogs—regardless of their age, size or breed. It will also cause them to bark excessively. The sensitive ears of a dog hear the sounds of loud music much louder than humans do. If it is too loud for humans, the dog’s ears can become damaged.

Dogs can hear frequencies twice that of humans; able to distinguish sounds at 4x the range of humans. An excellent dog calming music is classical musical, soothing and calming the dog while it listens to the peaceful low sounds entering its ears. It has been found the barking dogs, unknowing to their owner, are barking at sounds or “messages” they are hearing at ultra high frequencies. Something that humans are unable to detect.

When dogs can hear

Dog begin to hear at two weeks of age, about the same time their eyes open. Up until ten days of age, their eardrums are closed. By four weeks of age, the inner ear has fully developed and they can be checked for deafness. Breeds such as Border Collies, Rottweilers, Boston Terriers or Dalmations are specific breads that can inherit issues with hearing.


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  1. Timothy Kelley
    December 31, 2016 at 10:39 am — Reply

    “Peaceful” or “calming” are not apropos of classical music at all, though there is much of it that is. There is more that is not.

  2. September 29, 2011 at 12:20 am — Reply

    I actually purchased a couple dvd’s for my dog who had a few anxiety issues. As it turned out, I think that I liked the music more than she did! The problem is that my girl passed away last year at 16 and I haven’t been able to play them since – it’s an association thing.

    Nice article.

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