Being a good pet owner means being attentive to all of your animal’s needs, and dogs, just like people, can have fairly complex emotional needs. Of course physical health is a priority, but what about tending to your dog’s more abstract needs? How can you help your dog cope with stress if you’re away at work for the majority of the day?
Perhaps ask yourself what you would do if you were in your dog’s position: at home, lonely and eager for something to preoccupy yourself with. You might, like many others, turn on the television, and it seems that dog experts believe this solution might work for canines as well. DOGTV, a new channel from Direct TV, offers programming exclusively for canines. Although some experts are skeptical of this innovative and provocative idea, DOGTV advocates believe that this could have numerous psychological benefits for your pets.
For example, the AAHA has stated that 10 to 15 percent of dogs suffer some kind of separation anxiety. And unfortunately, dogs may act out when they are experiencing this sort of anxiety, whether they take to urinating in the home, chewing up clothing, or destroying furniture.
There have been several other products on the market which have sought to diminish separation anxiety for dogs, but nothing quite as advanced, or fascinating, as DOGTV, which promises to broadcast content that has been specifically constructed for dogs 24 hours a day. The channel is the brainchild of a group of professionals who work intimately with dogs, such as dog trainer Victoria Stilwell and scientist Professor Nicholas Dodman.
But you may find yourself asking, what does it mean to have television content specifically designed for dogs? DOGTV creators say that the colors of the TV programs have been adjusted specifically for a dog’s vision. The programs also feature ~5 minute segments that are supposed to help relax, stimulate, and teach dogs proper behaviors. In the way that TV programming for human audiences typically deal with human subjects, DOGTV content commonly integrates shots of animals in lush surroundings, hanging out, playing, or reacting to real world situations (for example, the mailman arriving).
It sounds like a fascinating project, but will it really work as intended? Some pet owners and industry professionals are still skeptical. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has said that on the one hand, anything that relaxes or stimulates pets is good. On the other hand, they expressed doubt that DOGTV will have the desired effect on every dog. There’s some debate among scientists about whether dogs can even physically experience TV the way humans do because of the way images refresh on a TV screen. Then there’s the fact that some dog owners have claimed that their animals don’t take interest in televised imagery at all, and others still have said that their dogs only response has been to bark at the television screen.
There are other industry professionals, however, who share a more positive outlook on DOGTV. The American Kennel Club recently conducted a poll which revealed that 60 percent of dog owners said that their dog would watch TV for short lengths of time throughout the day.
Is DOGTV a potentially useful means for pet owners to keep their animals stimulated while they are away at work, or is this merely an imaginative misfire? Only time will tell. But at the very least, it is encouraging to see this level of innovation and creativity directed towards enhancing a dog’s peace of mind.