Bark for Your Favorite Show!
A new cable channel for dogs aims to entertain pets while their owners are away
The creators of DogTV know that dogs love to watch other dogs playing! (Courtesy DOGTV.COM)
Your four-legged friends may soon have their own channel on which to “paws” the remote. But don’t expect to see them drooling over dog food commercials or howling at blown calls in the latest doggie sporting event. DogTV, cable TV’s first channel for dogs, is mostly about keeping lonely dogs calm.
There are about 78 million canines in the United States. DogTV is aimed at the many of these that are left alone for long periods. Dogs are social animals and often grow anxious when left on their own. They may bark, chew shoes, and generally get into trouble. DogTV, which launched last February, is designed to help ease their boredom and anxiety.
Creators of the 24/7 cable service approached their task scientifically. The sounds, colors, and camera angles have all been adjusted for canine senses. For instance, colors are made more vivid so that canine eyes can see objects clearly.
DOGS WATCHING DOGS
DogTV does not, as you might think, show Scooby-Doo and Clifford the Big Red Dog reruns. Rather, there are three types of DogTV “shows.” The first aims to relax dogs. These segments show dogs resting to the sound of calming music. The second kind shows pleasant (for a dog) day-to-day settings, like riding in a car or walking down a street.
The third type is meant to stimulate—like a scene of two dogs playing in a field. “[Dogs] love watching other dogs being active on the screen,” says Beke Lubeach, a DogTV spokesperson. She says that birds, monkeys, and zebras also make dogs take notice.
Even before DogTV came along, many experts said that dog owners should leave a TV or radio on for lonely pets. But does the cable channel do what it says—keep dogs company?
Not everyone is buying it. “I think a lot of this is to make us feel better as opposed to making the pet happier,” says Dr. Ann E. Hohenhaus of New York’s Animal Medical Center. She tells The New York Times, “Your pet needs adequate exercise and an interesting environment. You cannot just put on the TV and hope your dog is going to get better.”
On the other hand, the Humane Society animal shelter in Escondido, California, tried out DogTV at its shelter. Sally Costello, the director, says workers observed that dogs exposed to the channel were calmer and barked less.
DogTV has been seen only in Southern California so far. But it is scheduled to go national soon. Owners of the commercial-free channel hope to charge about $5 a month for their service.