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As we’ve previously reported, there’s some pretty persuasive evidence that your dog loves podcasts and music as much as you do. And with giants like Spotify and Amazon making audio content for pets, it’s probably not surprising that someone would have wondered: do dogs need their own speakers too?
Enter iCalm, a specialist speaker and sound therapy platform that wants to be a one-stop-shop for all your dog’s audio needs. Founder, sound researcher, and music producer Joshua Leeds began making music for dogs after working on soundtracks for children in neurodevelopment clinics. He used that clinical experience to develop the iCalm program.
What Is iCalm?
Honestly, it’s a bit tricky to succinctly explain what iCalm is. Looking at the company website, it promises to do everything short of taking your dog on a walk. But the business is mostly split between two products: iCalm players and iCalm Music for dogs.
iCalm players are basically portable speakers that you use to listen to the company’s extensive library of audio programming–aka iCalm Music. If you’re not ready to go full tech, you can also get their content via download, physical CDs, or stream it on Spotify, Apple, or Amazon Music.
The iCalm Music offering is generous. There are arrangements for car rides, separation anxiety, reducing aggression, elderly dogs, thunderstorms and fireworks, sleep, and even to help human/animal bonding. The company claims their content is “psychoacoustically designed to support you and your dog’s compromised immune or nervous system function.”
What they Say About It?
Now, while this all sounds a bit extra, there is a fair bit of psychology behind the benefits of playing music for dogs. Animal researchers have long been interested in how sound impacts our pets, and have found evidence that dogs have their own musical tastes and preferences. Soothing genres, such as classical or soft pop, can help them relax.
But iCalm takes these findings a step further by making some pretty ambitious claims. Arguing that “the intricacies of conventional music often are too much for a depleted system to take in” and as a result “music and sound may become mentally distracting, annoying, and even painful.” To counter that, they champion a process called “simple sound” that minimises “intricate auditory information found in most music.”
While there are a handful of sites, authors, and behaviorists exploring this theory, it isn’t widely studied.
What We Say About It?
There are a few ways to think about this product and its claims. As mentioned, there’s ample evidence to suggest that playing soothing music for dogs is beneficial. And the iCalm Music selection is impressive and carefully curated. But the more ambitious claims about the “nutrients” of sound are harder to quantify.
When I tried it out on my own anxious dog, she seemed largely unmoved by the experience (although I personally really enjoyed the tracks). For pets that do like music, it’s hard to isolate how this program is different from playing classical music or one of the countless YouTube channels offering similar content.
As a stand alone portable speaker, the iCalm player is pretty good. The sound quality was comparable to similarly priced products, with the Bluetooth, FM radio, and USB and auxiliary ports making it convenient for human users too. Plus, being lightweight and housed in a durable carry case, I predict it will become a favourite on picnics and day trips.
The iCalm is tricky, because while there is no doubt it’s a quality, thought out product, I keep coming back to the question, “do you really need it?” The speaker is similar to others you can already buy (or probably have in your house), and the audio offerings aren’t dissimilar to existing music for dogs.
If you have a pet that’s very responsive to sounds, don’t feel like programming your own music, and are in the market for a portable speaker then it’s a good buy. Otherwise, you can probably achieve a similar effect yourself.
iCalm players start at $49.95, with iCalm Music starting at $10. Check out the full iCalm offering here.
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