updated 10/05/2011 AT 4:20 PM ET
•originally published 10/06/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
Gavin DeGraw believes that dogs know good music when they hear it.
“It’s kinda cool when you’re writing a song and you have your dog in the house and you’re playing and they’re sitting next to the piano,” he told PEOPLE Tuesday at the kick-off party to Petco’s National Adoption Reunion held at New York’s Central Park, where he performed for a crowd of dog lovers. “As long as they don’t get up and leave the room, whatever you’re writing must be okay.”