Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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I love Law & Order so much that this one TV show is enough to tempt me into purchasing a television (I’ve never owned nor possessed a TV, although I do watch TV in “my” NYC pub). But according to this curious video, the theme music from Law & Order is enough to cause dogs everywhere to howl (with delight?).

This video was compiled from a collection of “pups & order” videos. Does anyone have a dog that also howls when the opening credits for Law & Order are playing? Does anyone have any idea why this particular music causes dogs to howl? Do other pets (parrots, cats, hamsters) also react to this theme music? If so, what do they do?


  1. #1 JohnTr
    February 24, 2010

    I can’t account for the dogs’ behavior, but the Law & Order music always makes me quickly run to the sofa and somehow lose hours of my day and productivity as the back to back episodes keep playing.

  2. #2 MAL
    February 24, 2010

    Well, my guess is that the phenomenon is related to dogs howling at wailing sirens – perhaps the theme song sounds something like a firetruck to some dogs? So then why do they howl at sirens? A classic question – my gut feeling was that sirens sound a lot like howling dogs/wolves and it’s an instinctual response. Lots of folks on the internet seem to think the dogs’ ears are hurting. The link below supports the former idea, and not any tortured dogs’ ears, although of course it’s just a posting on the internet and comes with the usual caveats.

    Alternate possibility? The dogs have heard the theme song many times before, and are anticipating the wolf howl that happens at the very end (Dick Wolf being the creator of the series, after all).

  3. #3 Mark P
    February 24, 2010

    An important question would be whether there is a particular part of the theme that stimulates a dog to howl. On a purely intuitive level I would guess that it might happen more often when the clarinet (?) highlight starts.

  4. #4 Norma Najorka
    February 24, 2010

    As a professional dog behaviorist, I have to say that my dogs don’t howl but show an interest when the theme music is played. My experience tells me that certain dogs can be more sensitive to specific tones just like humans. I do not believe it “hurts” their ears, but they can respond to it with a variety of actions, one being howling. Fun observation!

    Norma Najorka

  5. #5 alexinmadison
    February 27, 2010

    I have two small, barky dogs and I’m a fanatical L&O watcher (all versions). The theme music has never affected them – no barks, no howls. Not even during the end-credit wolf howl and, if anything, that should set them off because the one thing they DO bark at are TV dogs, TV horses, TV leopards, TV whales… well, you get the picture. It’s tough to watch Animal Planet in this house.

    However, this poses a new question. The dogs never barked at the TV for any reason until I switched from an old 32″ tube TV to a 42″ flat panel LCD. Bigger screen? More realistic picture? Better sound? High def?

  6. #6 Red-Rain7
    March 4, 2010

    I may not howl or whine when Law & Order SVU, or C.I. comes on; BUT I DO sacrifice hours of productivity! As for the pooches, I suspect that the theme song is full of rich, whole, natural A’s (the music notes). I played violin for 17 years during school and college, and our dog went NUTS every time I used the pitchpipe to tune my A-string. I suspect that sirens and such have a lot of A tones too; Unfortunately I also think that they howl during those tones because the frequencies of the A sounds bother their poor little ears.

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