“Audible for Dogs” should also give pet owners peace of mind, the company said in a release, “knowing the dog will have the comfort of a human voice.”
To be clear, Audible isn’t claiming that dogs will understand any of the storylines or become engaged enough to start requesting novels from particular authors. It’s merely suggesting that your animal will feel calmer whenever they’re deprived of human companionship at home.
“Dogs are social animals, so they need to engage with someone and the purpose of Audible for Dogs is to make dogs feel there is someone with them,” Millan said.
“The person performing the audiobook is actually keeping your dog calm and taking the dog to a resting state, acting as an extension of you.”
To ensure that it wasn’t barking up the wrong tree with its fascinating idea, Millan’s Dog Psychology Center conducted research with 100 dog owners, with 76 percent who played audiobooks for their pooch “reporting an increase in calm, relaxed behavior [in their dog] over a four-week period.”
The current selection of curated audiobook titles, each one with a personalized introduction from Millan about their canine appeal, includes Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, described as “a heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope.” Starring a dog.
Other picks include the bear-focused Winnie the Pooh and, for mutts interested in early science fiction novels, Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.
One of several videos promoting Audible for Dogs shows Millan chatting with a woman called Leslie who has a dog named Buddy.
“When I leave him I can’t help feeling he has feelings of desertion … I think he doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Leslie tells Millan. And it’s true, Buddy does look confused when Leslie walks out of the door, though it might be because there’s a camera crew in his house. It’s really hard to say.
While some may see Audible for Dogs as a cynical attempt to exploit dog owners’ feelings of guilt about leaving their animals alone, others will totally get Audible’s idea and may even give it a whirl.
Of course, if you don’t fancy forking out for an audiobook, you can always leave the radio or TV on when you head out, something lots of dog owners already do.