Calming songs for anxious dogs: 50,000+ Spotify songs analysed

Does your dog get stressed by storms or sirens? Freaked out by fireworks or fire engines? Nervous of a neighbourhood party, other dogs barking, or the vacuum cleaner running? Or perhaps your furry family member gets anxious when they are alone at home?

You may not be too surprised to learn that in these and other stressful situations, playing certain types of music can actually help your precious pooch feel more relaxed and calm.

Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow

Researchers have been exploring this topic for some time, and their findings show that playing specific genres of music can reduce negative behaviours in dogs, such as excessive barking and the inability to lie down and relax.


The magic of music

We all know that music is a powerful tool that can change our emotions. It can calm us down or hype us up, make us weep or dance with joy. And it can have a similar effect on our dogs – albeit usually minus the weeping and dancing!

But, before you click play on your favourite bedtime playlist to see if your dog dozes off as quickly as you do, read on. If you want to help your dog to relax, be aware that some types of music are better than others for the task.


Top of the pops for pets

To get a better understanding of the songs and genres that pet owners like to play to lull their pooches to lalaland, we’ve collected the data from 53,176 songs and 295 playlists on Spotify, analysed the key characteristics of the songs, and bring you our findings.

Spoiler alert – Ed Sheeran, Adele and Taylor Swift don’t make the top 10! In fact, you may be quite surprised by the presence of artists you’ve never heard before.


Here are the 10 songs and their artists that appeared most often in pet playlists:

  1. “I Dreamed” by Ferrox – 102 instances
  2. “The Forest Speaks” by Ferrox – 102 instances
  3. “Season’s End” by Ferrox – 99 instances
  4. “In Good Time” by PandaBjørn – 96 instances
  5. “House On The Hill” by muskii – 92 instances
  6. “Gentle Things” by Samuel Goldhurst – 92 instances
  7. “After You” by Ferrox – 92 instances
  8. “Familiar Feelings” by Yoro Ekander – 86 instances
  9. “The Motion” by Ferrox – 82 instances
  10. “Blue Azure” by Katarina Lindqvist – 80 instances


When categorising these songs by their genre, we found that the 10 most popular genres in the dataset were:

  1. Pet Calming – 7071 instances
  2. Pet Calming, Sleep – 4241 instances
  3. Sleep – 877 instances
  4. Lullaby – 736 instances
  5. Japanese VGM (Video Game Music) – 680 instances
  6. Neo-Classical – 504 instances
  7. Instrumental Lullaby – 378 instances
  8. Ambient Guitar – 310 instances
  9. Pianissimo – 254 instances
  10. Piano Cover – 245 instances


The genre is the category or style of music, such as pop, jazz or rock. The genres above indicate a strong preference for calm, soothing, and instrumental music within the dataset.


They may be the most popular, but are they the most calming?

While these are the most popular songs and genres that pet people are currently playing to their dogs, we wanted to know if they are also the most effective at calming dogs down or sending them off to sleep? So, we did a deep dive into the data.


Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow


The science behind the songs

Every song and piece of music from the dataset was analysed based on its unique audio features, and these features were then statistically correlated with each other. When we find positive correlations between any two variables, we can assume that they go together and we can determine how strong that relationship is.


Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow

Here are some key insights from our correlation analysis:

  • Energy and Acousticness: There’s a strong negative correlation (-0.81) between energy and acousticness, indicating that tracks with higher energy tend to be less acoustic and vice versa. This makes sense as acoustic tracks are generally softer and more mellow than songs with electronic instruments.
  • Energy and Loudness: There’s a significant positive correlation (0.81) between energy and loudness. Energetic tracks are typically louder, while low energy tracks are typically softer.
  • Valence and Danceability: There’s a positive correlation (0.70) between valence and danceability, suggesting that tracks that are more danceable tend to convey a more positive mood, as well as the reverse.
  • Instrumentalness and Acousticness: There’s a positive correlation (0.67) between instrumentalness and acousticness, indicating that tracks with higher acousticness are more likely to be instrumental.

These correlations can provide some key insights into the characteristics of songs for pets in this dataset.

For instance, the strong negative correlation between energy and acousticness might indicate a preference for more mellow, less energetic tracks in pet-related playlists, possibly to help with relaxation or sleep.

Best Spotify playlists for dogs Bow Wow Meow


Genre Based Analysis

Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow


The bar charts illustrate how different audio features vary across popular genres in the dataset:

  • Acousticness: Genres such as “Pianissimo” and “Instrumental Lullaby” tend to have very high acousticness, indicating a preference for softer, more mellow sounds in these genres. This aligns well with music intended to calm pets.
  • Energy: Energy levels are generally lower across these genres, with “Pianissimo” and “Instrumental Lullaby” showing the lowest energy levels. This suggests that these genres comprise more relaxed, less intense music, likely to create a calming environment for pets. Note that while “Sleep” appears much higher, it scores only 0.25 out of a possible score of 1, so is still a very low energy genre overall.
  • Valence: The valence varies significantly across genres, with “Ambient Guitar” and “Sleep” showing lower valence, indicating more subdued, less cheerful music. On the other hand, genres like Instrumental Lullaby” and “Lullaby” show higher valence, suggesting a happier or more uplifting mood.
  • Instrumentalness: Most genres exhibit high instrumentalness, indicating a strong preference for music without vocals. This is likely because instrumental music can be less stimulating and more soothing for pets.


Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow


The histograms above show the distribution of key audio features in songs for pets:

  • Acousticness: The distribution of acousticness is skewed towards higher values, indicating that a significant portion of the tracks in this dataset are highly acoustic. This suggests a preference for softer, more mellow sounds in pet-related music, likely due to their calming effect.
  • Energy: The energy levels of the tracks are generally low, with a peak towards the lower end of the scale. This trend aligns with the idea that songs for pets are intended to be calming and not overly stimulating, which is reflected in their lower intensity and activity levels.
  • Valence: The valence distribution is relatively broad, but there’s a noticeable lean towards the lower end, indicating that many tracks convey a more subdued mood. This might be beneficial for relaxing pets, as overly cheerful music could be too stimulating.
  • Tempo: The tempo distribution shows a wide range of values, indicating a variety of rhythms within the dataset. However, there doesn’t appear to be a strong bias towards either slow or fast tempos, suggesting that tempo might be less critical in determining a song’s suitability for pets compared to other features like acousticness and energy.


What the research tells us about the most ideal music to calm dogs down


  • Classical music is consistently found to be calming for dogs. Studies have shown that classical music has a calming effect in potentially stressful environments such as boarding kennels, rescue shelters and vet clinics, compared to controls and other forms of music.
  • Classical music has the ability to significantly influence specific behaviours and physiological parameters that have been associated with the canine stress response such as heart rate variability, level of vocalisation and time spent resting, sleeping and quiet.
  • Other genres including soft rock and reggae can also be beneficial, as they have been shown to reduce stress and increase heart rate variability. 
  • Rock and heavy metal music were found to induce undesirable behavioural and physiological changes in dogs, such as increased barking or vocalizing and standing or body shaking.
  • In one study, findings suggest that providing a variety of different genres may minimize habituation.
  • Music marketed as being specifically designed for dogs (five studies examining dog music all used “Through a dog’s ear”) did not appear to have many beneficial effects over and above those gained by exposing dogs to a random selection of classical music.


Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow


Tempo (beats per minute)

  • Slow, steady tempo of around 60 to 80 beats per minute, which matches, or is slightly lower than, a dog’s resting heart rate.


  • A moderate to high pitch is best. Lower pitches can increase alertness, while extremely high pitches should be avoided as they might be irritating or overstimulating for dogs.

Rhythm and Complexity

  • Repetitive rhythm, simple structures, soothing melodies and stable harmony are preferrable. Simple and predictable patterns are more likely to be soothing, while complexity can overstimulate a dog’s senses.


  • Songs featuring simple and soft piano sounds or gentle string instruments can be more relaxing. Loud, harsh, or highly electronic sounds might be less effective or even stressful.


  • Low volume, around 25 dB (dogs have much more sensitive hearing than we do).

Duration and Consistency

  • Longer durations of continuous music can be more effective than short bursts. Consistent auditory environments prevent sudden changes that might startle or stress dogs.


  • Playing music that the dog has heard in the presence of their owner, especially in a calm and happy context, can be beneficial. This might make the music more effective in reducing stress.


  • Some variety is necessary as research has found resistance to effects of music if the same playlist is used repeatedly.


Characteristics of music to avoid in calming playlists for dogs

  • Random beats and loud percussion instruments such as drums and cymbals, which can startle dogs.
  • Lyrics or vocals – according to the research, dogs repond better to instrumentals.
  • Saxophones, clarinets and other reed instruments – these can mimic canine howls and cause agitation.


Here are 10 songs from the dataset that best match the research-based criteria for calming pets, taking into account the genres, tempo range, loudness, and duration:

Best calming Spotify songs for dogs Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance

These songs have been selected based on their slower tempos (60-80 BPM), which align with the ideal range for calming effects, and their relatively lower loudness, suggesting they can be played at a low to moderate volume.

The genres include classical music and neo-classical, both of which are known for their calming effects. The longer durations of some pieces also align with the recommendation for longer durations of continuous music for a consistent auditory environment.

Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow


Here are 10 songs from the dataset that might be least suitable for dogs based on the criteria of high tempo, high loudness, and shorter duration:

Least best Spotify calming songs for dogs Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance

These songs have been selected based on their high tempos, which are significantly above the 60-80 BPM range ideal for calming effects, and their higher loudness levels, which might be overstimulating or stressful for dogs. Some of these tracks also have shorter durations, which may not provide a consistent auditory environment conducive to relaxation.

It’s important to note that while these criteria were used as a guideline, the actual effect of music on an individual dog can vary widely based on the dog’s personal history, temperament, and environment.


Key & Mode Analysis:

Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow

Key Distribution (the ‘key’ a piece of music or song is in refers to the main notes, scales (sequences of set combinations of pitches and intervals) and chords that it’s built from)

  • The distribution of musical keys shows a relatively even spread across the different keys, with no single key overwhelmingly dominating the dataset. This suggests a variety of tonalities in the music selected for pets, without a strong preference for specific keys.
  • Keys such as C, G, and D appear slightly more frequently, which might indicate a slight preference for these keys. These keys are often considered to be more “natural” or “comfortable” for many instruments, possibly making them common choices in music production.

Best calming music for dogs Bow Wow Meow


Mode Distribution (a music mode is a scale with its own distinctive sound)

  • The mode distribution indicates a clear preference for major mode over minor mode. Major mode is associated with more positive, uplifting, and happier music, which might be preferred for creating a positive environment for pets.
  • The dominance of major mode in the dataset aligns with the idea that pet owners or playlist curators might lean towards music that is perceived as cheerful or soothing, potentially to influence pets’ moods positively.



The analysis suggests that while there’s a variety of keys used in pet music, there’s a noticeable preference for music in the major mode, possibly due to its generally positive and uplifting qualities. The relatively even distribution across keys, however, indicates that there’s no strong tonal bias in music selection for pets, suggesting that other factors such as melody, rhythm, and instrumentation might play more significant roles in the selection process.


Breed specific hearing

The available research provides insights into the hearing capabilities and sensitivities of different dog breeds, though direct comparisons of “best” vs. “worst” hearing across breeds are not straightforward. The studies often focus on specific aspects such as noise sensitivity, congenital deafness, and the impact of breed characteristics on hearing. Here are some key points from the research:

  1. Noise Sensitivity Across Breeds: A study on noise sensitivity in 17 dog breeds found significant variations in how different breeds react to loud noises such as fireworks, gunshots, and thunderstorms. The prevalence of noise sensitivity varied across breeds, indicating differences in hearing sensitivity or processing, but the study did not directly rank breeds by hearing capability (Storengen & Lingaas, 2015).
  2. Congenital Deafness and Breed Associations: Research into congenital sensorineural deafness in dogs, particularly in breeds like Dalmatians, English Setters, English Cocker Spaniels, and Bull Terriers, highlights breed-related genetic predispositions to hearing impairments. Some breeds have a higher prevalence of congenital deafness, which may be related to pigmentation patterns (Strain, 2004).
  3. Hearing Range and Sensitivity: General studies on canine hearing, such as the determination of auditory sensitivity in Labrador Retrievers, provide baseline data on the hearing range and sensitivity of dogs. These studies have shown that dogs can hear frequencies from as low as 60 Hz up to 45 kHz, with maximum sensitivity around 8 kHz. However, these results may vary across breeds due to differences in head size and ear structure (Coultas et al., 1981).
  4. Impact of Breed-Specific Traits: Some research suggests that breed-specific traits, such as head shape and size, may influence hearing capabilities or the manifestation of hearing disorders. For example, brachycephalic breeds (with shorter skulls) may experience different auditory challenges compared to dolichocephalic breeds (with longer skulls), but specific studies directly comparing hearing acuity across such breeds are limited.

Best calming playlists for dogs Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance

In conclusion, while certain breeds may be predisposed to hearing sensitivities or disorders, direct comparisons to identify the breeds with the “best” vs. “worst” hearing are complex and require further specific research. Factors like noise sensitivity, risk of congenital deafness, and breed-specific anatomical traits all play a role in the auditory capabilities of different dog breeds.


A pet insurance policy with Bow Wow Meow will help ensure you can always afford to give your pet the best treatment.




This article is written by

Nicky Klugman

Nicky is our Marketing Communications and Content Specialist. She is an animal-lover who is particularly interested in animal behaviour and the relationships between humans and their pets. While growing up, dogs were always an integral part of the family. Nicky is mum to three human sons and a rescue pup called Dobby.

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*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.
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