On April Fools’ Day this year, Amazon spoofed itself with an introduction to PetLexa, an animal-friendly version of its Alexa voice assistant. Now, it’s actually releasing something real—audiobooks for animals.
Today, Audible announced a new brand of books with Cesar Millan, a longtime dog behaviorist and Emmy-nominated host of the TV series Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan. The series, Audible for Dogs, aims to help make dogs “calmer and happier,” with titles such as “A Dog’s Purpose,” “Soldier Dogs” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”
According to Audible, the series was inspired by a 2015 academic study, which found dogs that listen to audiobooks were more likely to have lower stress when left alone than those that listened to music. When Audible teamed up with Milan’s Dog Psychology Center to study 100 dogs over four weeks, playing Audible content through Echo devices for the dogs, 76 percent of dog owners reported their pets were calmer and more relaxed after listening to the audiobooks. (Dogs reportedly responded better to books read by narrators that were the same gender as their primary owner.)
“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 in a statement. “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.”
It could be yet another good use for the millions of Amazon Alexa-powered Echo devices now in households around the U.S, as marketers and media companies continue developing ways to incorporate voice-activated content.
However, while dogs might appreciate the AI-powered entertainment, the series might be more comforting for humans that feel the emotional weight of leaving their four-legged friends all alone. In a new testimonial video released today by Audible, Millan talks with a woman about how the books have helped her dog, Buddy, when she’s away.