DogTV could be your pup’s new best friend

A new breed of television programming has piqued the curiosity of dog owners everywhere. The station, called DogTV, popped up recently in San Diego but has plans for a nationwide launch soon.

Feeling guilty about putting in another long day at the office, while Fido is home alone? DogTV airs programming designed with a lonely dog in mind. While many dog owners already leave their television or radio on to keep their pet company while they’re at work, DogTV takes it to the next level.

Canine-friendly programming

The programs — which are featured in 8-hour blocks — take your dog through various stages including relaxation, stimulation and entertainment. And to make TV viewing more dog-friendly, producers have altered the sights and sounds of the programs. Colours have been muted, for instance, since dogs can only see yellow and blue, and not red or green. The sound volume has been altered, and music has been written specifically for dogs. To a human, it may sound like elevator music, but to a dog, it is relaxing.

Although there are no commercials and no reruns, this isn’t likely the kind of programming you’ll enjoy watching with your four-legged friend. Watching a slug crawl is not captivating to a human, but in a dog’s world, it can be fascinating — and a way to keep your pup occupied while you’re away from home.

The San Diego network, which charges $4.99 a month, already has one million subscribers. With the national launch to come in the next few months, their growth is likely to be tremendous. When you consider that 46 million American households have dogs, and 97 per cent of those homes have televisions, the potential for this station is huge.

In the past, dogs couldn’t make out more than a flickering screen when watching television since old TV sets were built at 50-60 Hz which is the rate a human eye can discern flickering movement. A dog’s sight is higher at 70-80 Hz. Newer technology like LCD screens are set at 100 Hz and up, which makes them perfect for canine viewing.

Research on whether dogs really understand what they are watching is ongoing, but preliminary studies suggest they recognize other dogs on the screen and even react differently to their own breed.

Even if they don’t understand what they are seeing, they definitely recognize the sounds they hear. Barking, sirens and audio have all been adjusted for a dog’s delicate hearing. No gunshots, explosions or loud music are allowed.

The programming is based around a dog’s sleeping patterns with alternate footage and soundtracks designed for stimulation, relaxation and exposure throughout the day.

The exposure portion is designed to familiarize dogs with things they will see each day such as traffic, babies, doorbells and other pets. “There are studies that show when young puppies are exposed to video images of other dogs, it acts as a form of socialization,” Dr. Nick Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University told Metro News.

The relaxation portion features sleeping dogs, nature scenes, and doggy lullabies, while the stimulation part features dogs running, panting, surfing and playing — with the intent to get the dog moving.

DogTV is especially helpful at dog shelters, where canines are confined for the majority of the day.

Escondido Humane Society’s development director Jean Loo-Russo told Metro News about a chemical imbalance that can occur if a dog is confined for a long period of time, resulting in the dog going kennel crazy. She noted that DogTV and 20 minute walks twice a day can prevent this from hapening.

“We handle 5,000 animals a year. We get high-energy, big dogs that need to calm down. When we plugged it in, we saw almost immediate results,” she said.

This has us wondering — when will it come to Canada?

Sources: DogTV, Metro News, American Pet Products Association

Join a gym — or get a dog?
The top 10 most popular dogs are…
The Zoomer Report: Dogs and Exercise
Clever canine escape artist