Many pet parents may utilize a form of white noise at night in order to sleep peacefully. We may use a table-top fan, or we may even purchase a “white noise” machine that will play hours of soothing sounds described as ambient noise variations such as the ocean’s waves or gentle rain.
We, humans, utilize “white noise” in order to relax our brains and put a damper on anxiety. Is it possible the same technology could be beneficial to our dogs?
Dogs can benefit from white noise for a number of reasons. Dogs can be restless sleepers much the same way humans can. Yes, white noise can lessen anxiety for our canine companions just as it does us! It can help dogs to sleep better, and it can help them with anxiety when we are away from home (separation anxiety in dogs).
Some dog owners have also questioned whether their pets can even hear white noise. We do know that dogs hear things on a different frequency from what we do, so this is an important question.
Let’s look at how you can ascertain whether or not your dog can hear white noise in the same way we do.
First, keep in mind your dog has excellent hearing . They tend to hear things much better than we do. Dogs are innately alert, and they can pick up noises that we humans may never be privy to. If you are curious if your dog is able to hear white noise, then watch his body language often through dog ear positions.
When you turn on a white noise machine or a fan, watch how your dog reacts. If you see the dog put his ears up, that is a sure sign the dog has heard the white noise.
Dogs “perk” their ears for a particular—and scientific—reason. A dog’s ears are meant to “catch” sounds, which is why they tend to perk their ears when they hear something. Some dogs will perk their ears then appear to be analyzing what they heard. Dogs may then begin to sniff the air in an effort to suss out what they are hearing (and perhaps smelling). Dogs’ senses often work in combination to determine if any predators are near or other threats to their territory.
If a dog does believe the sounds she’s hearing are associated with some type of threat, you may notice your dog growling or barking. Why do dogs howl at sirens? When they hear a noise and believe a threat is near, some dogs howl to communicate. Then again, depending upon the personality of your dog, the alert pup may shake or even try to hide.
Other dogs may try to run toward the source of the noise.
When a dog determines that there is no threat associated with the sounds they heard, they will likely relax their ears and carry on with business as usual.
Can dogs hear white noise?
Webster defines white noise as a steady and unwavering sound that is unoffensive; it may be electronically produced, and it is typically used to mask or obliterate unwanted sounds. It may be the sound of rain, waves crashing, or even the sounds of the rain forest (minus the cries of jungle animals).
There are those who believe nature sounds are to be included in the category of white noise. If this is true for you, then white noise has been around as long as mankind itself. These nature sounds may include weather systems, wind, and water, including the aforementioned rainfall.
White noise need not be electronically produced by a machine. One can open up the window and hear the breeze blowing or hear the sounds of a thunderstorm. However, some humans prefer the sound of electronically produced white noise compared to other types of white noise. There are those individuals who will need the sound of a table-top or box fan in order to sleep at night, while others may prefer the aforementioned noise-making machines that imitate a rainy night or the wind blowing through the trees.
There are those who have experimented with anxious dogs and white noise machines. These dogs, particularly those who were rescues or shelter dogs, seem to calm down when exposed to the white noise machine. Therefore, we can conclude that these dogs DO hear white noise and that it can be beneficial to them.
Notable Research Regarding White Noise For Dogs
While white noise and dogs have not been the subject of great research, we do know that it can have a positive effect on dogs that deal with anxiety. Some of the evidence is anecdotal, but it is evidence that white noise can be helpful to dogs.
We can also add the evidence we have for humans utilizing white noise for sleep as a part of the evidence of the health benefits of white noise for dogs. While some may believe that adding a great deal of white noise in one’s bedroom is silly, it can actually have many benefits.
When a human blends white noise with the other noises in one’s environment, the white noise will actually take over and drown out the other sounds. White noise will eventually take precedence over any other noise in your environment, including that of barking dogs, street noises, and loud vehicles. Eventually, the white noise will be the focus of what your brain “hears.”
Now, let’s apply that science to our canines.
Using white noise to soothe babies—particularly newborns—is nothing new . Many new parents use white noise machines in the baby’s room to aid in sound sleep. As adults, we may add a white noise machine or something as simple as a fan to drown out other noises in our environment.
But what does this have to do with our canines? Dogs have much stronger hearing than we do. They hear frequencies between 40,000 and 60,000 Hz. There is no doubt that dogs hear the white noise we’ve described.
There is no need to “train” your dog to hear white noise—they already do! If you believe your dog has anxiety, whether it is during sleeping hours or something he experiences when you’re away from home, then it can only help to try out a white noise machine (or a fan) in order to lessen his stress and anxiety. If the white noise does nothing but allows your dog to get a good night’s rest, then you have already helped your dog tremendously as they need rest just as much as we do.
How Can I Provide White Noise For Dogs?
There are some neat white noise machines on the market today. Some not only produce soothing white noise, but they also project pictures on the ceiling. This could be very beneficial for a dog that is experiencing separation anxiety.
There are also apps that can be downloaded to your phone, and some pet parents use these as “white noise” machines. Some streaming music services will offer “white noise” stations that pet parents can utilize to soothe pups with anxiety.
Dogs that have spent time in shelters or came to your home as a rescue pup may be in even more need of the benefits of a white noise machine than the average pup. Some of these dogs develop anxiety that is more than mere separation anxiety. They may become so upset that they destroy furniture or try to escape the house when you are away at work or running errands. Using white noise to soothe these dogs while you’re away—particularly using a machine that can project images on the wall or the ceiling—can help your dog to decrease stress levels while you are away. This can help your dog to remain calm even while you have to be away.
It’s also a good idea to use a white noise machine while your dog is in his dog crate. Again, this can help with separation anxiety as the dog may never realize you are gone. He can soothe himself and nap while you’re away.
You may also want to change up the white noise in order to determine exactly what white noise your dog appears to enjoy the most. That way you can put that type of noise on a “shuffle” of sorts, and provide him with the most relaxation possible.
Although many pet parents may prefer the electric-sounding white noise of a fan, dogs typically like something more natural. This may include “nighttime sounds” or “rain forest sounds.”
Using white noise to soothe a pet with anxiety is not only a way to provide stress relief for your dog, but it can provide your dog with confidence and the ability to rest properly.
1. Is white noise good for dogs?
Yes! Dogs can benefit highly from their pet parents providing a white noise machine. Dogs that have spent some time in an abusive situation, a shelter, or been a rescue dog may benefit the most from the use of a white noise machine, but it can help any dog that has had issues with anxiety.
Dogs will not be irritated by white noise, even though they tend to hear on different frequencies than we humans do. At the same time, dogs most often prefer to utilize white noise that sounds more natural, such as nighttime outdoor sounds (frogs, water running, the wind blowing) or the rain forest.
A white noise machine that also projects images may be a great idea for dogs with separation anxiety.
2. Do dogs like to sleep with white noise?
Yes! Just as we humans like to have some white noise to drown out other sounds in our environment, so do dogs. Dogs may prefer white noise when sleeping because they tend to hear sounds on a different frequency from what we humans do. This means their sleep can be disturbed by sounds we wouldn’t normally hear.
We’ve learned via scientific study that we humans tend to “blend” the white noise with other sounds we hear. Eventually, the white noise takes over and drowns out the other noises. We are able to better focus on becoming relaxed and falling asleep when our brain drowns out the other noises.
Now consider dogs, who hear so much more than we do. White noise can help them to truly relax and sleep.
3. Does white noise help dogs with anxiety?
Anecdotal evidence shows that white noise can help dogs with separation anxiety. Pet parents can play white noise while dogs are in their kennels, and they can also put on some white noise if they plan to be out running errands and Fido can’t come along.
Dogs that have been in abusive situations or those that are shelter dogs or rescues seem to garner the most benefit of a white noise machine.
4. What sounds are calming to dogs?
There is no scientific evidence as to what is exactly calming to dogs, but we do know that dogs tend to enjoy more natural white noise—a rain shower or the wind blowing through the woods—much more than “electronic-sounding” white noise.