We’ve all seen funny videos online of pet birds apparently bobbing their heads along to music or of dogs going absolutely loopy when a certain song comes on, but do animals like music, or are these situations coincidental, or even demonstrating distress or unhappiness with the noise?
The answer to this depends on the animal species in question. Some animals like music, some are ambivalent, and others actively dislike music; and just as is the case for humans, some animals have marked preferences for some types of music but not others!
This article will tell you about some types of animals like music and some that do not, with a few insights into the types of tunes your pet might enjoy too. Read on to learn more.
Yes, dogs like music or more to the point, dogs like some types of music, and this is actually something you can turn to your advantage and use to help your dog with problems like separation anxiety and things like fear of fireworks too.
Dogs apparently enjoy listening to classical music and find this relaxing, but hearing metal music played actually increases anxiety in some dogs, based on a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour in the USA.
Playing classical music can help to calm down a hyperactive dog and even send a chilled out dog to sleep; so consider creating a classical playlist for your dog for when you need to leave them at home alone, or for when fireworks are in the offing, as this will both help to keep them calm and to mask the noises from outside too.
Steer clear of metal music, or other genres that are discordant and loud; which means no singing around the dog for some of us too!
Something else to bear in mind is that dogs have a different range of hearing than we do, and they can hear higher frequency sounds than us; which put simply, means that they might hear more detail in your favourite song than you can, or even than its original artist can!
No, apparently not. Cats are particularly ambivalent about human music, potentially erring on the side of disliking it if the music in question is particularly loud and jarring, as cats don’t tend to like a lot of noise in general; aside from potentially if they’re the ones making it!
As we mentioned in the introduction, there are lots of videos online of birds bobbing their heads along to all sorts of music and seeming to be very into listening to it and doing so actively, so, do birds like music?
Yes, in fact birds apparently like music just as much as people do and often display marked preferences for different types of music, particularly classical and very structured music that is correctly arranged in the sense of the mathematics of musical harmony.
This is not as surprising as you might expect given that birds are often very intelligent and also make music of their own in the form of birdsong.
The area of bird’s brains that are affected by music correlate directly with the reward pathways of their brains too, and the same is the case for humans. Another really interesting fact about birds and their love of music is that the types of music they make, enjoy, and respond to (in terms of birdsong) depend on social context too; much as how for us people, we tend to enjoy different types of music at different times, depending on how we feel, what we’re doing, and even who we are with.
The way birds feel about different types of human music is emulated in this way too.
It isn’t just companion animals – who are far more likely, of course, than wild animals or livestock to be exposed to music and so, learn to enjoy it – that have musical preferences either.
Elephants, for instance, not only often enjoy music and demonstrate this very clearly, but they can even be taught to play musical instruments, including not only things like drums (which might seem simple unless you’ve ever actually tried to learn proper drumming,) but harmonicas and more complicated instruments too.
Another animal species that has been proven to like music is the cow; and a study from almost 20 years ago also found that the effect music has on cows can be so significant as to be capable of increasing the milk yield in dairy cows, due to the relaxing effect that music has on them.
The tempo of the music rather than specifics of the style or genre dictate the sort of effect that music has on cows; but across the duration of the study, songs with specific tempos resulted in an increase in milk yield of 3%, simply by playing cows songs from artists as diverse as Beethoven, REM, and The Beetles!