TOP #10: How to Sooth Dog’s Anxiety With Music ft. Amman Ahmed

Pet parents are already aware of all the regular methods to deal with dog's anxiety. It's usually dog anxiety medications, vests like Thundershirt, grooming procedures and visits to the vet or other professionals that will help to reduce pain and discomfort of anxiety in dogs. However, there's another less common way to sooth dog's anxiety, and that's using music.

Today, I'm joined by Amman Ahmed, creator of a rapidly growing YouTube channel called Relax My Dog. The channel is full of free relaxing music for dogs and cats that pet owners can use to sooth their pet's anxiety symptoms and calm them down. You can even get all these tracks on a mobile app to take with you anywhere.

In this new Theory of Pets podcast, we're going to cover a lot of ground in terms of anxiety in dogs. We're discussing how and why pets experience anxiety, best and cheapest ways to deal with it and assist your companions, and why it matters that you do. Of course, we will also cover how effective listening to music can be for dogs' anxiety.

Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.

How to Sooth Dog's Anxiety With Music
(raw podcast transcript)

How to Sooth Dog Anxiety With Music

* To read just the interview transcript, please scroll down below.

Hi everyone! This week on Theory of Pets I decided to do something a little bit different.  I hear from a lot of pet owners that mostly their dogs, sometimes cats, have separation anxiety or anxiety at some point, whether it's anxiety about grooming or travelling or things like that, it seems to be a topic that's becoming more prevalent in the pet industry right now, so I wanted to talk about that and that's what I kind of planned this week's podcast around was to discuss separation anxiety and some of the tips and tricks to help pet parents deal with separation anxiety, and if you've been dealing with it for a while you've probably looked around in the market and you've seen that there are some vests, like the Thunder Shirt come to mind.

There are pills, natural supplements, there's prescription medication you can get from your vet, there's all  kinds of stuff out there available for us to use for our pets for anxiety or any kind of anxiety.  And it's hard because your pets are a member of your family, you want them to be happy and you want them to be comfortable, you certainly don't want them dealing with any stress or anxiety but at the same time you also want them to be healthy and you have to stick to a budget.

So with the health aspect of it a lot of pet owners don't want to give their dog any kind of a supplement or a prescription medication if it's not 100% necessary, and if your dog only has mild anxiety sometimes the pros of having your dog helped with separation anxiety don't outweigh the cons of having to give your dog a prescription medication, and of course with budget all of these things cost money, we're pet owners on a budget, we have food and chew toys and dog beds and other necessities that we need to buy, veterinary expenses, things like that.

So is a Thunder Shirt a necessity if your dog has mild anxiety?  Probably not, certainly some dogs have severe anxiety issues and they need to be treated whether that is with prescription medication or some other form of treatment.  But if your dog just is uneasy and uncomfortable, it breaks our hearts to see that but sometimes we just can't afford to pay for these things to try with our dog, every dog is different, you don't know.  Just because a thunder shirt works for a friend of yours or a family member doesn't mean that it's going to work with your dog.  So do you want to spend the money and try that or is it better to just stick to your budget?

So this week I have found a product that is 100% free to us as pet owners.  I have not actually tried it myself.  We have a dog that has anxiety around thunder showers and loud noises but it's winter here in Maine and we don't have a lot of thunder showers coming our way so I am going to definitely going to try it next spring and summer, but it's not something that I can actually test and try.

First of all I'm looking for you guys to help me to get some feedback from you all; but also this company called Relax Your Dog, and there's Relax Your Cat as well, they are on Youtube and as you know Youtube is for regular pet owners like us, you can get on there, check out the videos and leave your comments. So literally thousands of pet owners around the world have posted videos and photos of these videos relaxing their pets, and these videos are…it's Music for Dogs or Music for Cats and it's specifically generated and they work with different frequencies and things like that to find music that will calm your pet when they are anxious about whatever it is that it might be whether it's veterinary care, grooming, loud noises, thunder storms, separation anxiety, things like that.  They developed these songs I guess you can call them, these musical tracks to relax your animals.

So today I was… or actually not today, this is a pre-recorded interview, but yesterday I was able to speak with the creator of these musical tracks, his name is Amman Ahmed, and I was able to chat with him about the development of Relax Your Dog and Relax Your Cat and the music itself, so I’m going to go ahead and let you guys listen to that interview and you can also of course on our website which is, there's going to be show notes where you can link to their YouTube page and also to their website.  These products are available now in app form for Android and for Apple products so I will make sure to leave the link there as well if you're curious and want to download the app.

Again, whether it's YouTube or the apps these are a hundred percent free so if you try it and it doesn't work, no big deal; but definitely I'm looking for you feedback.  Don't forget, jump on our website, it's, you can leave comments and questions and I will definitely listen to all of them or read all of them, I will respond to you and I may use some of them in future podcasts, so if you're comfortable with that you can voice record a message if you would like to be featured on any future podcast.  So here in my interview with Amman

Interview with Amman Ahmed

Samantha:  You just want start maybe talk a little bit about Music for Dogs and kind of how you got involved in such a unique thing?

Amman:  Yeah.  So I guess for us like we've spent like at least six/seven years now like really looking into the technology behind what works and how it kind of works.  So I started this like literally like six years ago out of university, purely I was struggling to get a job and had a degree and it was completely worthless cause I was at home and just recovering from the recession, and 2010 the UK was still pretty hard hit. So I said okay I've got maybe a thousand pounds, which I think is like 15 hundred dollars now left over from my student loan and okay I can't get a job, I'll try and start a business.

And I didn't know where to start, what to do and we kind of like started looking at different types of music and how they can benefit people.  So we started looking into music to help people get to sleep, we started doing really well and I partnered with a team like in El Salvador who were then signed to my record label, so all the stuff we make is completely exclusive, and from there…we're doing pretty well like two years down the line, we're okay why don't we look into Music for Dogs?

We said alright we research behind this and especially like research around classical music and how it affects a dog, and we then started kind of experimenting and we kind of found a base on Youtube we're like “What do you think best?”  Obviously it's a completely free product so we're not selling you anything, and people really started engaging and they liked it and tried it out and then as the years went by we started developing different techniques which I kind of timid to tell about because that's the secret that we…

Samantha:  Right.

Amman:  So we looked at like different frequencies and like combining that with different types of music, different styles of music.  And then yes, slowly things started working.  Our fan base, so we have a huge play list on Youtube on our channel called Watch It Work, and there are so many fans submitting videos about their dogs falling asleep to our music, and that just made everything so much more powerful because it wasn't coming from us, it was coming from our fans.  And then with that it's completely grown year on year.

We don't classify ourselves as scientists or have years of experience in that therapy, animal therapy or anything like that, for us it was just like we experimented with music and found techniques that started working and we got our feedback from our fan base.  And because all our stuff is completely free, I guess we kind of set the expectation pretty low, but once it started working people are “Wow! Okay this is something really special.”

So now I'm on Youtube with Relax My Dog channel I think it's got about four million views a month on Youtube, like even our music streaming services that's…Aqua Music that's getting about half a million streams a month, so that's quite interesting.  And we've just launched on Apple TV and Roku TV and Amazon Fire, and that's doing really well, like people go to work and just leave that on for their dogs.

So yeah, it's being very helpful, and the amounts of comments and the feedback we get, you only have to go to our Youtube channel to look at the number of comments that we get from people, and the majority of them are really really positive.  And I think that's what makes it really special, it's like for us like we read these comments where people have tried like so many different things, so many different forms of medication and the way they write it it's like is very very emotional, and that's really why like what we're doing is actually worthwhile, and I think that's what keeps us going is the positivity that we get from our fans.

Samantha:  Sure, I mean dogs are like family members you know so if they're not happy, and especially separation anxiety is a huge thing in the canine community and like you said there's medications and special coats and all kinds of things to try and help with that so if you can do it easily by just turning on Youtube or leaving your Amazon on or something like that for your dog during the day while you're gone, that's a huge thing.

Amman:  Yeah.

Samantha:  Yeah, and I'll be sure to…in the show notes for the podcast I'll be sure to link your Youtube channel too so that our listeners can jump on there and either check it out for their dog or see the comments and things like that. That's definitely a big thing when you see it working for other pet owners, you're definitely more apt to try it yourself.

Amman:  Yeah yeah, exactly.

Samantha:  Yeah.  Fantastic! So do you guys…do you have any like veterinarians or any experts in the field that are using it and working with you?

Amman:  So for us like once again we've had a lot of people in the US that said, “I want to try this music,” or “I've tried it in the kennels,” like a lot of kennel owners and like “This has made my job a lot easier.”  And a lot of vets are now starting to use it because people have got YouTube on their phone and when they're putting their dog like in the carrier or are taking them to the vet they'll have their iPhone or whatever it is in there playing the music so when it goes to the vet like “What is this?”  And then they've had “Why is your dog so calm?”  And then from there that's kind of how that spread, so yeah.  And one thing we want to do now is like reach out to more vets, more kennels and just feel like we're happy to give them our music for free, I don't know that they charge these, so we'd love to help as many kennels as possible.

Samantha:  Absolutely.  That's wonderful!

Amman:  Yeah.

Samantha:  So for your future plans, do you want to expand at all, maybe do some different animals or I know you mentioned you started out with humans for …human sleep.

Amman:  Yeah. So for us actually surprisingly we do have another channel called Relax My Cat and that is actually doing very well.  You know once again Relax My Cat started about two or three years ago, once again on YouTube, and with our producers a lot of research again with music therapy for cats and we were like “Okay there could be something here,” once again those two free years of trial and error impacting with our audience and if you go to our YouTube channel Relax My Cat, once again people have submitted videos of their cats and kittens falling asleep and relaxing to our music.

And that's how surprising we got a lot of press coverage, Relax My Cat and yeah, that's something…so right now we're focusing on adopting some cats and I think you know we're a pretty small team, just one at a time and we're just looking…just get out there as many people as possible, you can access this music, it's on Youtube, it's completely free.  And if it works then that's good…

Samantha:  Yeah absolutely.  And keeping it free that's so important for our pet owners on a budget to have something that can help their dog…medications and like I said those coats and the things like that, that stuff is very expensive so to have something that is free first of all, but second of all to have something that works…a lot of people don't want to medicate their dog if they don't have to, so to have something that's simple, it's easy and it's free, I mean it's almost like it's one of those too-good-to-be-true things until you get on the channel and you use that.  There's so many videos about…that pet owners have made of their dogs relaxing and just enjoying.  So when you get on there and see the impact that it has on these dogs it's quite amazing.

Amman:  Yeah. And yeah I guess from our perspective we're continuing to experiment with different sounds and frequencies and more combinations and putting it out there.  And you know not all our music is great, we do have some feedback from our fans and say “Look this is terrible…this is like loud noise, why is that?  This disturbs my dog.”  And sometimes once we get enough of that feedback we're like “Okay this doesn't work.”

So the majority of our stuff has positive impact but it is all just trial and error and working with our fans, and I think that's what's really important and that's why our fan base is growing really quickly.  We don't want to be those arrogant musicians where like it's our way and we've had years of study and all this stuff, we want to engage with you guys and say “Look let's build this product together, you guys are in it just as much as us.”  And I think that's how we've got such a loyal fan base.

Samantha:  Yeah absolutely.  It's nice for pet owners to have that and I think too every dog is a little bit different so trying out some of the different things on the site and just find what your dog's personal preference I guess for music is helps too.

So first of course I need to thank Amman for that wonderful interview and letting us know a little bit more about Music for Dogs and Music for Cats and kind of how that was developed.  And of course as he mentioned they're not scientists, they're not researchers that have studied anything to do with like canine hearing or neurology or anything like that, so this music is just kind of tried and tested and like he said they've over the years developed frequencies that seem to suit dogs and so that's what this is, you might have to jump on the site and kind of look around to find something that you think that your dog would like. Certainly if you look on their Youtube site you can get on and look at the comments from other pet owners, and there are like I said really are thousands and thousands of comments.

So look through, find some stuff that's well-reviewed and try it with your dog, it's like we said, it's free so it's not going to hurt at all just to give it a try, and if your dog suffers from separation anxiety…can't talk this afternoon…if your pet is suffering from separation anxiety or anxiety about the groomers or the veterinarians, that mobile app makes it really easy to say you're going to go to the groomers or to the vet, listen to that in the car or listening to it on the ride over, or listen to it when they get there, play it in the background and try and help your dog calm down and relax.

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.