Rachel Maddow on "Dogs freak out over Law and Order theme?"

On tonight's episode of the Rachel Maddow Show, Ms. Maddow opened up a can of science whoopass on a Boing Boing post from earlier this week about the internet phenomenon of dogs freaking out when the Law and Order theme song is played.

You can watch the Maddow Show segment here. In it, canine behavioral expert Robert Brandau is accompanied by Chomper, a labrador retriever who is totally adorbs. Together, they explain why so many dogs have been observed in internet videos to have "a howling reaction" to the theme song of the Law and Order TV series.

Video above: Internet remix artist extraordinaire Joe Sabia takes a Final Cut knife to pretty much every YouTube video of a dog flipping out over this theme song.

Thanks again to Tara McGinley for first pointing us to this phenomenon. A special nod to nastynets contributor Joel Holmberg who started it all by making this grid of 35 youtube videos of dogs reacting to the song. Joel tells Boing Boing, "[I created it] when I was home visiting my family over christmas and noticed my family dog, Velvet, freaking out to the theme."



  1. For those who don’t want to go through the 3 minutes to get to the answer, the dog guy thinks the dogs hear what they think is another dog howling, so the dogs will howl along with the song.

  2. The more interesting question after watching the videos is: why do some dogs start howling right at the “Chunk-chunk” and some don’t react until later on? If it “sounds like howling”, wouldn’t it sound like howling at the same spot for every dog?

    1. @Anon #3: I think that sam1148 (#1 above) is right about the bass riff that comes immediately after the “chunk-chunk” being the part that sounds like a dog howling. So, why do some dogs start howling immediately upon hearing the “chunk-chunk” instead of waiting for the bass riff? My guess would be that it’s a Pavlovian response: They’ve heard it enough times before to know what’s coming next.

  3. “Internet remix artist extraordinaire Joe Sabia”

    if you thought that was extra-ordinary do a search on google images for “shiny coins”.

  4. Dogs are very sensitive to sounds.

    A friend of mine had a dog that used to howl every single time he heard the theme song from Jeopardy. But it only worked when he heard the song directly from the TV — they tried to tape the song and play it back a few times, and the dog ignored it. It was really spooky!

    I had a dog that used to go nuts whenever I played the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” on the stereo. She would howl, then run and look behind the speakers whenever she heard the “woo, woo” part of the song. Her eyes would be as big as saucers.

  5. My dog will whimper and howl at several musics, and it seems to me to be a negative reaction. The theme to Married with Children does it consistently. Choral singing almost always gets a response, so I have to be quick with the mute button during commercial breaks.

  6. Friend of mine had a border collie named Chuck who would sing along with the Phantom Of The Opera theme. Made it sound better actually.

  7. Well, what would be interesting would be to take each of the audio tracks that make up the theme, isolate them and play them back individually to see which particular one triggers the response.

    It may also be a combination of two or more of the tracks interacting with each other.

    Can I has funding?

  8. I think Robert Brandau is like Tommy Chong’s cousin or something, man.

    Probably explains where that “Labrador” bit came from.

  9. Y’all have dogs that howl when they hear certain TV themes. But do any of you have a HUSBAND who does that?

  10. My dog is terrified of the Hulu announcer. The man who says, “Hulu is proud to sponsor …” The dog, Pepper runs from the room when that announcement plays.

  11. I like how Rachel Maddow pronounces “allelomimetic” correctly, if a bit slowly, only to get “corrected” by her “expert” who completely botches it, pronouncing it something like /A-loo-mi-nen-tik/. Gotta love those TV experts.

  12. Awesome. Please keep us posted on any followups Maddow posts!

    A good experiment would be to see if dogs howl to individual instrument parts in the song, or only when they are superimposed…

Comments are closed.