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We Tried Playing “Music for Dogs” to a Dog. Turns Out, He Didn’t Care.

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I’m one of those people that treats their dog like a person. I schedule my entire life around him, and relish in saying things like: “Oh sorry, I have to go home now, my dog is waiting for me.” I take approximately 15 photos of him doing the same things every day; my current favorite is when he sits on the top of our staircase so he can see out the window. We call this “watching TV.”

So when I found out there was a whole online culture of playlists for doggy consumption waiting for me out there on the internet, I was pretty stoked. I mean, I live for this stuff. Anything to make my dog’s life better, right?

I have to admit something. I’ve actually been leaving music and TV shows on for my dog since I got him as a puppy 10 years ago. I always feel terrible leaving him at home when I go out, and so I figured this was a way to help him feel a little less lonely. Usually, for TV it’s some kind of old-time show (he loves that stuff) and for music I’d just throw on a random playlist that Spotify suggested. 

When I first discovered there was such a thing as “Music For Dogs,” I was kind of shocked I hadn’t come across it sooner. I mean, there is now music and playlists to accompany everything, so of course there’d be one for our favorite four-legged fur-balls (sorry cat lovers). Well, Mr. Puppy was in for a treat because over the next week I’d go on to try an array of made-for-dogs style playlists.

Naturally, I scoured several playlists looking for those with the most followers and longest play times to test out. Nothing but the best for my pup.

A few that made the cut were:

8 Hours of Relaxing Dog Music 

I like this YouTube one a lot, because there have been a few times I’d throw on a Spotify playlist for pup, only to get in my car, turn on Spotify, and realize if I played my music through my headphones or car speaker, that it would stop it from playing inside the house.

(Don’t worry guys) I listened to the radio instead, so Puppy could have his playlist) But now, when I know I’ll be using Spotify, it’s YouTube playlists all the way.  

Dog Calming Music

This is just a good samaritan’s playlist, with a really cute album cover.

This Is Dog Music

This one is a Spotify Official playlist. That’s right, they’re getting in on the action too.

Dog Music Calming Sounds for Dogs

This one is put out by Sony Music Sweden. An odd surprise, but a fun one fur sure. 

It wasn’t long before I realized that, if I’m being very honest, all of these playlists are more or less the same. They’re all full of instrumental music (probably because they’re trying to be “calming”) and while the songs aren’t necessarily the same, to the untrained pup ear, they might as well be. There’s not a lot of variation, and if I were a dog, I’d get pretty bored with this mix too. Which might be the point — to just put your pup in a state of relaxation so they can drift off to dreamland.

However…

This is not what happened with my dog. Instead, I actually think it made him more anxious. Now to be fair, part of this could be that I tried this solely as I was going out, and the association became “uh oh, dog music means mom is leaving!” but I think there’s more to it than that.

First, these are pretty high pitched notes.

I can’t imagine that’s pleasant on our canine friend’s ears. You might be thinking, “well what about dog whistles?” But dogs don’t exactly “enjoy” those sounds, especially if they’re used in training (where they’ll have preconceived responses to certain frequencies). High-pitched noises are often troubling and anxiety-inducing to dogs.

Second, is unfamiliar sound and music the key to relaxation? I’m not sure.

I have to believe that what my dog finds most relaxing in terms of calming his anxiety is not necessarily music that he has never heard before, but the sounds that he’s used to hearing when things are all well and good inside the home and he’s getting bum scratches and dental chew treats.

In his case, that’s a lot of pop-punk and a variety of indie rock. Yes, Sawyer has developed a keen appreciation for The Gaslight Anthem, The Front Bottoms, and The Arkells. Never let it be said that he doesn’t have taste!

There was one channel I quite liked that would be great to leave on for my dog indefinitely. That was the live dog video channel on YouTube. If your dog is like mine and loves to bark at animals on TV, this channel is perfect because it’s just tons of doggies living their best lives running around on the beach.

There are a lot of puppy playlists out there, and if you have a low-stress dog who doesn’t require a ton of paw-holding then it’s possible these playlists will work to calm your pup. After all, if the point is just to have on background music so your dog isn’t stuck listening to absolutely nothing all day while you’re gone, these are good options. But if your dog is guilty of loving you too much and cries when you leave, then my guess is that these playlists aren’t going to do much for them.

So, as much as I love the concept and the cute album covers, I came, I tried, and I left these doggy playlists behind. It’s back to The Gaslight Anthem on repeat for us.

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Angela Mastrogiacomo
Angela Mastrogiacomo

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Spotify, Noisey, Substream, and more, as well as the Director of Community and Events for Music Launch Co. Her free training ‘Reaching a Wider Audience Without Spending A Dime’ helps emerging artists cut through the noise and get in front of fans and industry influencers in just a few steps. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.