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Freshly Baked Science

pet dog sitting at owners feet on footstool listening to them play the keyboard music black and white with colour

Should Your Pet Listen To Music?

24th September 2018

Have you ever gone out for the day and left some music or the radio for your pet? Well, 32% of our readers do this on a regular basis! But do our pets actually enjoy a bit of Bieber or are the pet owners who do this just racking up an expensive energy bill?


Scientific studies show that although music appreciation isn't exclusively a human trait, it doesn't necessarily mean that our pets appreciate the same music as us. As pet owners, we are all guilty of something called anthropomorphism. This is when we give animals human qualities that they don't actually possess. We do this out of love for our furry friends, as we want to share every aspect of our lives and passions with them. 


The truth is that most pets aren't at all bothered by human music, for a very interesting reason. Humans like music that falls within our acoustic and vocal range, with a tempo similar to our heartbeats. Any music which doesn't fall into this category isn't recognisable as music to us. The same can be said for animals, who have different vocal ranges and heart rates to humans. For most animals, human music falls into the unrecognisable category. 


Animals can, however, enjoy what animal psychologist Charles Snowdon calls 'species-specific music'. These are tunes specifically designed using pitches, tones and tempos that are familiar to a certain species of animal. Cats are quite easy to compose music for, as all the breeds are quite similar in size, vocal range and heart rate. On the other hand, dog breeds are highly variable in these areas, meaning the music must be more specific for each breed. 


In general, dogs are able to hear higher pitches than humans and have a more rapid heart rate, so music can be tailored toward this. However, it has been found that large dogs, such as Labradors, have vocal ranges that are quite similar to an adult male human, meaning that these breeds will show more interest in human music than smaller breeds. 


An interesting study also showed that playing classical music to dogs in kennels calmed them down considerably, while heavy metal music caused body shaking and agitation. So if you are going to leave music on for your pet, classical music is your best bet! Either that or search for 'dog music' on Spotify for some music composed especially for your canine. 


Overall, although pets don't appreciate human music, some classical music could help to keep them calm throughout the day, as well as masking other noises that may wind them up! If you really want to treat your pet to some culture, then finding some music produced specifically for their species will keep them truly content! Think less Black Sabbath and more Black Labath... less Bon Jovi and more Bone Jovi!

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