What is AMSR and what are the benefits for pet dogs?

AMSR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is the new buzzword in the field of mental health and wellbeing in human beings.  However, the concept has recently crossed over to animal welfare, particularly with dogs in mind.

ASMR refers to relaxing feelings described as ‘tingles in the brain’ which come as a response to certain specific triggers.  These triggers are usually things such as quiet whispering, slow hand movements and light tapping which have been compiled into videos for people to watch.  Currently, there are millions of such videos to watch on internet sites such as YouTube and there are many celebrities who endorse and claim to practice the concept.  There are now also AMSR videos specifically made for the benefit of pets, such as cats and dogs.

Watching a few of these videos myself I was dubious; particularly as some seem to be of a sensuous nature.  Scientific research into the subject has been lacking but in the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Sheffield and the Manchester Metropolitan University, claim that this phenomenon could provide benefits to both mental and physical health.

In one of their experiments designed to discover whether there was any true merit in ASMR and its effects on people, researchers from the psychology department of Sheffield University gathered two groups – one group who had claimed to previously have experienced the effects of ASMR and another group who had not ever experienced such effects.  Two different videos were chosen for each group to view one ASMR video and one non-ASMR (control videos).

Researchers found that there was a significant decrease in heart rate when watching AMSR videos; however, this was only seen in the group who had previously stated they already felt they responded to these triggers; therefore not everyone is a suitable candidate to benefit from ASMR.  While some people might naturally feel relaxed by certain triggers such as whispers, the pages of a book turning or gentle tapping noises, other people may find this highly irritating and distracting.  However, in those people who responded to ASMR, it was also found that the participants experienced an increase in positive emotions, feelings of relaxation and social connection.

In the dog world, there are people creating ASMR videos for dogs and again, there are plenty to choose from on internet sites; but one company Snack at Franks, a dog snack subscription service, are trialing ASMR videos for dogs.  The series of videos feature sounds from all sorts of dogs of all sizes, scratching, eating, grooming, licking and drinking.

While some dog experts agree it is a fascinating concept there is speculation as to whether it is something dogs can experience and benefit from.  There is little research that exists into the possible effect of ASMR on dogs and many more studies still need to be carried out to establish the wider and long term effects on people.  However, it is true that soothing tones and a calm demeanor will certainly benefit your dog and any dog owner will surely have noticed this for themselves.  The question is – do they really respond to recorded sounds of other dogs scratching, eating and drinking in a way that makes them feel more calm?  What do you think?  Is this just a fad or do you think there could be something in it?  Holidays4Dogs would love to hear your thoughts.  If you want to read more about the Sheffield study you can click on the link below.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0196645

www.relaxmydog.com – Relaxing Music & Tv for Dogs