Many of us find it hard when we have to leave our canine companions alone at home because we fear that our pups will feel lonely and experience separation anxiety. To solve this problem, there's been a number of different products invented, but only few proven to be effective. One of the proven methods to soothe anxiety in dogs is music. Nowadays, new studies show that there's an even better method for calm dogs with anxiety – audiobooks.
You've probably left your TV or radio on before every time you left home to give your pooch a sense that he is not alone; something to focus on, and a sound to soothe the dog. It's a good tool that often works, and now we have yet another one to try – special audiobooks for dogs with anxiety. The newest trend launched back in 2017 is called Audible for dogs, a specialized list of audiobooks that are likely to be most helpful.
ALSO READ: 15 Best Audiobooks for Dogs With Anxiety
What Is Audible for Dogs?
Audible is Amazon’s audiobook platform, currently the most popular of them all, and more than a year ago, they started a new project focused on providing selected Audible books for dogs. This project was kicked off as a partnership with Cesar Millan, the famous dog trainer you probably heard about.
The well-known “dog whisperer” recommends audiobooks as a way to calm your pooch down and provide the pet the comfort of a human voice when you are not around. His Dog Psychology Center conducted a study based on anecdotal research where 100 volunteers played a curated collection of audiobooks to their dogs over the span of four weeks. The study claims that results showed that over 70% of tested dogs appeared more relaxed and calmer after listening to audiobooks.
While it is logical to take the results of his study with a grain of salt, previous research on the effects of audiobooks on dogs supports these conclusions. One 2016 study, performed on shelter dogs, showed that audiobooks have a more positive effect on dogs than music. Researchers came to the conclusion that audiobooks have the greatest impact on reducing walking behavior, sitting/standing behavior and barking.
Even though most of the evidence is largely anecdotal, given the amount of research and what we know has been proven about calming music in dogs, there is a good argument to be made that audiobooks truly may help dogs with anxiety, boredom and loneliness.
How Does Audible for Dogs Work?
To purchase any audiobook you must have an account on Audible. Once you create the account, you are free to choose any audiobook and play it on Amazon Echo or any other device (tablet, smartphone, desktop PC, etc.)
The entire process is very simple, which is a big plus for the service of Audible for dogs, along with a wide variety of titles narrated by some really amazing narrators like Neil Gaiman, Rachel McAdams, Elijah Wood, Sissy Spacek, etc. This makes the audiobooks not only suitable for dogs but their owners too.
There's a number of proponents of using audiobooks with dogs, but so far Cesar Millan has been the most vocal about the service. Millan recommends first introducing audiobooks to your dog after a long walk. For the first couple of times, you should listen to it with your pooch because that can teach your dog how to “zone out” by himself in the future and let the focus drift towards the sound of narration.
My Experience with Audible
Since I have a Dalmatian, which is a high-energy breed, I am well aware of the stress dog owners go through when they have to leave their dogs alone for a long time. More than once have I come home to find my dog in the middle of some mischievous situation caused by sheer boredom – a situation many of us are familiar with – and I was eager to try out Audible for dogs and see whether it can help me.
Because he's the main face on the service's website, the first thing I did was download Cesar Millan's Guide to Audiobooks for Dogs. It is an audiobook meant to prepare you for Audible service itself, and provide step-to-step guidelines on how to use audiobooks for dogs. I liked it and I took the advice from Millan when I came to be choosing particular audiobooks for my pup.
Per his advice, I chose an audiobook with a male narrator because my dog is accustomed to the male voice. I went with Cosmos, partially because I liked the TV series and wanted to listen to all the secrets of the universe again. I also chose this audiobook because it lasts for more than 14 hours, which is more than enough to keep my dog occupied while I am at work, and that also means it's a good bargain for the price. It also comes with a plethora of male narrators, so I figured that he won’t get bored as he maybe would if he was to listen to only one narrator and voice.
The first couple of days I listened to the audiobook along with my pet. I liked the book but that was no surprise. I honestly didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary in my dog's behavior. He just sat at his usual spot and didn’t seem overly interested that some man was reading to him about the universe, the last thing he's probably interested in.
However, I must say that pupper's behavior was different when I left him alone with the audiobook. I set up my doggie camera and took an occasional peak while I was at work. I did this before and I would often see the dog pacing around from boredom at some point during the day, looking for things to do to entertain himself. His interactive toys did help a bit but they would never keep him occupied for long.
The audiobook, however, managed to keep him calm for more than an hour straight, as far as I could tell from occasional glances. After that he went up to his food bowl, walked around for a short time and came back to lie down in the room with my Amazon Alexa, presumably to listen to the audio book.
While my experience was purely anecdotal and not tested for a longer time (or with another book for that matter), it showed that audiobooks can have a calming effect on some dogs. My recommendation is to try it out and see if it works for you. You can get a free Audible trial for 30 days and test it out at no cost with your pooch.