They say music is a universal language. It allows us to perceive one’s thoughts, amplify our emotions, or communicate with other people.
If you have a dog at home, you might notice that they tend to howl to music. Do you know why they do this? Is music so universal that even animals are affected by it?
If you’re also curious and perhaps a bit concerned about your dogs howling to music, we’re here to clear your thoughts.
Why Dogs Howl to Music
Whether you’re singing, playing an instrument, or blasting a song on your speakers, dogs will once in a while howl to the music.
Some fur parents think this is a sign that their dogs don’t like what they’re hearing or that it annoys them. However, it’s actually the contrary.
Dogs howl to your music as a form of communicating with you. You see, our canine friends have been with us for thousands of years, and we’ve probably been singing for longer than that.
So, it’s just rational to think that embedded deep down in both of our genetic structures is our inclination to music.
Besides, who’s to say that dogs don’t enjoy music as much as we do, right?
However, it’s important to note that not all dogs will howl to music. So, if your dog doesn’t seem to communicate with you through howling and music, don’t feel down. There’s probably nothing wrong with your relationship.
It’s just that some dog breeds, especially those closest to wolves, are more likely to howl than others. These include Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Shiba Inus, and Akitas.
Additionally, dogs are also more likely to respond or howl to different genres of music or types of musical instruments than others.
Generally, dogs will howl at wind or reed instruments such as saxophones and clarinets. This is probably because the high-pitched notes combined with the longevity of the tone are akin to howling.
How Music Affects Your Dog
Do dogs love music? That’s kind of a broad question. We can’t say with certainty that they do. However, what we can say for sure is that music affects them.
We often use music to set our moods and influence us in a way that we see fit. If music holds this kind of power, it’s safe to assume that dogs, who have four times the sensitivity of our hearing, are also affected by this.
Here’s how different kinds of music seem to influence dogs.
Heavy metal is a genre of music that’s best characterized by low-frequency sounds, fast-paced tempo, distorted guitars, and just an overall dense sound.
When dogs are exposed to this type of music, it seems to heighten their stress levels and promote all sorts of negative emotions.
These include but are not limited to fatigue, hostility, tension, sadness, and aggression.
On the other hand, classical music seemed to have an opposite effect on dogs. When exposed to musical pieces from Grieg, Beethoven, and Vivaldi, dogs exuded a calmer disposition.
They refrained from barking, settled in one spot, and showed a general reduction of stress levels.
Harp music is perhaps one of the most relaxing types of music we could ever listen to. It seems to reach deep into our souls and calm our entire being.
Well, apparently, dogs feel the same way. Dogs who suffer from anxiety and restlessness seem to feel better after listening to harp music.
This is why some veterinary hospitals or clinics play this whenever they’re working with dogs. Levels of anxiety, respiratory, and heart rates all seem to significantly drop when dogs are exposed to harp music therapy.
Reggae & Soft Rock
While dogs may have their own preferences in music and lead them to react differently to a certain genre, they generally seem to have the same response to reggae music.
The rhythm and tones of reggae music encouraged dogs to be more relaxed. They spent a significantly longer time lying down instead of standing up while listening to reggae.
Additionally, their heart rates dropped, and no signs of aggression were observed.
Soft rock seems to also merit these same reactions from dogs. So, yes, the songWho Let the Dogs Outjust might be the perfect song to dance or sing to with your dog.
Other Reasons Why Your Dog is Howling
To communicate with you through music is not the only reason your dog might be howling. There are other elements in your environment that might merit this reaction from them.
Here are possible causes for your dog’s howl.
Howling is perhaps where dogs can reach their highest note possible. So, whenever they hear a high-pitched noise outside that frustrates or annoys them, they try to cancel it out or fight it with their own high-pitched note.
Dogs might often howl whenever they hear a firetruck’s siren. However, it’s difficult to ascertain whether they do this because the high-pitched noise frustrates them or because they perceive the siren as music.
Nonetheless, high-pitched tones will often merit a howl from your dog.
Dogs are very much territorial creatures. You might have already figured this out on your own by the number of times you have to clean after they urinate at different spots of your home or neighborhood.
However, there is another way for them to mark or assert their dominance over a certain territory. Yes, it’s through howling.
A dog’s howl notifies members of its pack or other packs nearby that the general vicinity they’re in is the howler’s territory.
Do you know how we humans use sounds to determine the exact location of something or someone? Dogs do the same through howling. They howl to allow other dogs to identify where they are.
On the other hand, dogs will also do the same to call their pack members. Howling is sort of like a call to gather in one place.
Warning or to Alert Someone
Aside from calling members of their pack, dogs will also howl to send a signal to other dogs or people that he/she is in need of help. Additionally, this can also be to signify that their owners or someone in their vicinity are injured.
Howling is also a way for them to notify other dogs about something they’ve just discovered. For example, you may often see dogs or wolves, which are dogs’ ancestors, howling when a member of their pack had just died.
Call Your Attention
Here’s one simple explanation of why your dog is howling; it wants your attention. It goes without saying that there’s a language barrier between dogs and humans.
Ergo, we can’t really communicate rather easily with one another. That’s why if your dog feels as if you’re not giving it adequate attention, it will resort to howling.
If none of the reasons above seem to provide an explanation for your dog’s behavior, there’s one other possible cause for its howling.
Dogs have emotions, too, and they need to find a way to express this. When they’re feeling quite anxious, they can start howling to release some of the anxiety they are experiencing.
Try to determine what it is in your immediate surroundings that might trigger this reaction and remove it immediately.
Dogs are probably our race’s first animal friends. We’ve been with them for thousands of years, and this relationship is bound to produce idiosyncrasies that both of us can share.
One proof of this is how they howl to the music we play. While there might be other genres they prefer, there’s no denying that both us and our canine friends have a shared love for music.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.