This post is part of Hard Refresh, a soothing weekly column where we try to cleanse your brain of whatever terrible thing you just witnessed on Twitter.
Despite its drawbacks, YouTube can also be a weird, wonderful world full of deep dives on popular topics. And sometimes those deep dives can be entirely helpful, too.
Such is the case with the world of dog relaxation videos, hours-long clips of music meant to ease the stress and anxiety of dogs. Trying to comfort the separation anxiety felt by my old dog, Franklin (RIP), was a constant struggle. While my newest dog doesn’t have the same issues, certain symptoms are definitely prevalent.
So it was with great interest I dove into this world, replacing my usual work day jams with ambient music and atmospheric soundscapes to see what it was all about and, coincidentally, if the music could take the edge off both me and my dog.
These aren’t just hours and hours of relaxing tunes, though. It’s an entire business. When you search for “dog relaxation music” on YouTube, you’ll notice one channel come up over and over: Relax My Dog.
The company goes beyond YouTube, though, with a host of services offered on its site and an app that’s available across a variety of streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku.
The company claims that it interlaces its music with a “sound sweep technology” which is a “high-pitched noise that runs through a lot of our melodies.” The high-pitch noise, the company says, “is designed the same as a dog whistle — to hold your dogs attention to the music.”
Of course, recreating these sounds also depends a lot on the speakers you’re using at home, so it’s unclear what impact the “high-pitched noise” might have for different listeners.
The actual science behind the music is a bit vague but Amman Ahmed, founder of RelaxMyDog and RelaxMyCat, told The Guardian in 2018 that the music is more influenced by customer feedback than scientific research. And it’s intended to also calm humans who can, therefore, project calm for their dogs.
In an email, Ahmed said the video is color-graded “for dog vision and also our scenes are aligned with the music to help promote the mood of that content. So for example each piece of content is designed for a range of common anxiety issues to help with sleep, relaxation and entertainment.”
Again, I’m no dog music expert or even dog scientist. But I tried out the “live TV for dogs” stream the company has on YouTube while I worked at home with my hyperactive dog and we both definitely felt calmer.
Of course, there could be any number of reasons my dog is zonked out, whether it’s still being tired from his morning walk or just sluggish because of the cold Midwestern winter. And dogs are well known for following huge bursts of energy and play with equally ambitious naps.
Whatever the case, the dog and I were both satisfied and relaxed while playing the video and plenty of customers have heralded RelaxMyDog’s success: The company claims an 82 percent approval rating from users.
Ahmed added that he couldn’t go in to detail to protect the company’s secret sauce, “All our research is based on 7 years of customer feedback. We are in a constant feedback loop from our growing fan base on what sounds, arrangements and frequencies work and as a result we crafted a formula.”
Those satisfied users have also been happy to share their experiences on Instagram and on YouTube.
That’s a lot of happy, napping pups.
Even if the music isn’t backed by bulletproof scientific evidence, it’s still a pretty zen way to get you and your dog through a crazy, anxious day-to-day world.