10/05/2011 at 04:20 PM EDT
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."
The "I Don't Want to Be" singer grew up with dogs in upstate New York, and although the busy star doesn't have a one right now, getting one is always on his mind.
"I'm heavily considering it," he said while cradling a 6-month-old rescue pup named Stormy, who is available for adoption through the New York Mayor's Alliance
. "I'm tempted a lot. When I get time off and I'm in New York City for a week or two, I'm like, 'It'd be really cool to have a dog right now.' You go to the park, you walk around, and it's one of those cool things – you're alone but you're not alone. You've got a buddy but you don't necessarily have to talk."
DeGraw, 34, actually spent a lot of time with canines when he first moved to Manhattan and took a job as a dog walker on the Upper West Side while trying to make it in the music business.
The toughest part of the gig? "When you're dealing with a really rambunctious dog," he said. "There was a Jack Russell that was kinda hard to walk because it wanted to [chase] everything it walked by – especially pigeons."
Though he'd love to stroll the city streets with his own pooch, his new tour
with David Cook makes that an impossibility right now.
"I'm doing so much traveling and living on the bus that it would be hard on an animal," he said. But when the time is right, a medium-size dog could be spotted snuggling next to his piano in the near future – or in a pile with him on the floor. "I like a dog I can wrestle with," he said.