Relaxation Music for Dogs: The Best Way for Dogs to Switch Off

dog relaxing to guitar music

Dogs also like listening to music.

Music can be relaxing for us humans. It can stimulate us or lift our mood. Science is convinced that music has a positive effect on dogs too. But what does relaxation music sound like for dogs and what do they like listening to?

Study: Relaxation music helps dogs in animal shelters

Cats, cows, sharks and dogs have one thing in common: They react positively to music. Since tastes differ, a study by the University of Glasgow and Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has investigated what music dogs like listening to.

Music reduces stress for animals in shelters

For their research, the authors of the study made music part of the everyday life of animal shelter residents for a few days. In an animal shelter in Scotland, several dogs were able to listen to a different music genre every day.

The researchers measured the dogs' stress level, i.e. their heartbeat and cortisol level – the concentration of stress hormone in the body – and observed their body language. This allowed them to find out what music proved most relaxing for dogs.

Practical application

However, the researchers didn't carry out their study solely out of theoretical interest. Thanks to the results, animal shelter volunteers and employees now know what music they can play to keep the dogs relaxed until they find a new home.

The animal shelters in Glasgow and Edinburgh have already started playing relaxing music for dogs straight after the study.

According to the study, the best relaxation music for stressed dogs is either soft rock or reggae.

However, the exact genre depends entirely on the dog's personal taste. Many dogs can also relax well to classical music from Mozart to Beethoven.

Soft rock is relaxation music for dogs

It's not overly surprising that dogs can relax particularly well to soft rock.  The music magazine Rolling Stone calls it a “feel good sound”. And reggae is the epitome of laid-back music.

In comparison, R&B, soul and pop music is slightly less relaxing for dogs.

Whilst cats relax best to sounds they know from when they were kittens, dogs don't need any special dog music in order to switch off.

This means that you can simply play soft rock and reggae hits for your dog – for instance, from these artists:

  • Eagles
  • Neil Diamond
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Elton John
  • Bob Marley
  • UB40
  • Inner Circle
  • Seeed

An album for dogs and their owners

Or look for the album “Paws. Play. Relax.” on the streaming platform of your choice. After the release of the Scottish music study, many dog lovers and animal shelter teams wanted an album full of relaxation music for dogs.

Demand was so great that the SPCA actually brought out an album with the support of John McLaughlin, the songwriter behind hits for bands like Westlife. But creating relaxation music for dogs must have been a first even for him!

You can listen to the album with your dog on Spotify, for instance.

There's so much more music as well as this album and the genres mentioned. But only a fraction of it could be played to the dogs during the study.

If you don't like soft rock and reggae but do like indie, for instance, why not try it out to see if your dog is keen too?

Tips on listening to music with dogs

There are a few simple rules so that you both have fun and the experiment really does prove relaxing:

  • Bear in mind that dog's ears are much more sensitive than human ears. Hence, gentle sounds are more pleasant than loud ones. After all, the music should be relaxing and not deafening.
  • Play your dog a few songs from different music genres – ideally not too many at once, otherwise your four-legged friend will soon get overwhelmed.
  • Dogs have different ways of showing if they like music. For instance, they appear calmer than usual or lie down in a relaxed position. If you observe such behaviour, the experiment has been successful.
  • But take care: dogs are quite similar to us humans regarding music consumption preferences. Just like us, our dogs also get bored if they only hear the same music all the time. So offer your dog as much musical variety as possible.

There's good news for non-music fans too: Even audiobooks and podcasts can help dogs relax. So you don't always need to have music blaring from the speakers in order to relax with your dog.

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