Feb
4
2014

Many dog owners leave their televisions on when they’re away from home. They believe this prevents their pets from getting lonely and engaging in destructive behavior while alone.

But does watching TV reduce what veterinarians call “separation anxiety”? And, if so, does it matter whether dogs watch football games, network news, or reruns of Lassie?

According to Ron Levi, the answers to both questions are a resounding “Yes!” Levi created DogTV, the world’s first television network exclusively designed for dogs. DogTV was recently launched throughout the U.S. via DIRECTV. It is available on Channel 354, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a subscription.

“Dogs are not people”
Levi, who has been involved in human television for 20 years, says, “Dogs are not people. They demand different ways to keep occupied. They need to stimulate their bodies and minds, but can’t do it when home alone. They are really dependent on their owners, so you need to think of ways to keep them busy so they won’t be bored and bark and eat your furniture.”

Levi’s team of animal experts, trainers, and researchers focuses on three kinds of programming:

Relaxation – to help dogs relax, reduce their stress, and keep them calm through soothing music, sounds, and visuals.

Stimulation – to stimulate dogs using scenes with and without other animals, animation sequences, and moving objects.

Exposure – special sounds and visuals to help dogs feel more comfortable in their environment.

Unlike regular television networks, Levi can’t conduct focus groups or surveys with his four-legged audience. Also, there is no advertising.

So how does he know his programming is working? “We install security cameras in apartments and monitor dogs’ reactions to our content and that of other networks,” he explains.

Creating the “perfect babysitter”
Owners also send in thousands of videos and images of their dogs watching DogTV. “They tell us their dogs are calmer and their stress and separation anxiety have been reduced, which is the main idea of this channel. Our goal is to create the perfect babysitter for dogs and provide them with enrichment when they’re home alone,” says Levi.

“There has been a shift in technology,” adds dog trainer and author Victoria Stilwell. “And now, because TV is digital, dogs can see what is on the screen. This is so exciting because now we can use TV to give our dogs the sensory stimulation and the company they need, especially when they’re home alone.”

To hold viewers’ attention, video segments are usually only a few minutes long and change frequently. “We’ve learned dogs don’t really enjoy hearing barking,” says Levi. “So we changed our content and took out the barking sounds.”

As Levi and his team continue to improve their content and awareness among dog owners in the U.S., they are looking to expand to markets overseas. DogTV is already available in Israel and South Korea, and they expect to add more countries—and their dogs—soon.

Learn more about DogTV
Visit their website at dogtv.com to learn more. To watch their programming live (a subscription is required), click here.


Jack Sommars is a Denver-based freelancer who often writes about animal issues.

 

Photo credit: iStock images

 

Comments (6) -

Dave Dollar
Dave DollarUnited States
2/28/2014 7:17:49 AM #

  I have had DogTV for several months now and Chelsea is enthralled.  Charlie still doesn't know we have a TV, but Chelsea eats it up.  If you have a dog that can see TV, get this! Smile

Rachel Shwayder
Rachel ShwayderUnited States
2/28/2014 7:10:36 PM #

When she says "now, because tv is digital" dogs can see, does that mean that they cannot see what is on the screen of an older tv set? (analog, i guess?) some of my dogs act as tho they are watching, it never occured to me that they couldn't see the images

Michael
MichaelUnited States
2/28/2014 9:56:59 PM #

Is this an "article" or an ad for DogTV?  I mean, two basic questions were asked in the opening paragraph, and they were answered by someone who has a huge stake in the answer.  I can't put stock in what someone says that is so invested and biased in the answer.

Kristine
KristineUnited States
3/2/2014 3:48:12 PM #

I hope the developer of the channel is working on the cable companies to carry DogTV! As if I don't already give a Time Warner a king's ransom every month... But I leave the tv on for her every day anyway, it would be nice if it's something she LIKES to watch!

Shorty
ShortyUnited States
3/6/2014 12:48:48 PM #

My dogs love the "dog channel" .  It really works to keep them calmer when I am not at home.  However, the sad part is that with all the different chanels and programming available, 90% of the time the dogchanel is the best thing on TV.

Cheryl
CherylUnited States
5/31/2014 2:25:37 PM #

Michael, I agree 100% with your answer.  That was no article, that was a friend getting a favor.  That was nothing more than an advertisement for DogTV.  I have 2 dogs and when DogTV premiered, I tested the theory.  My dogs paid no attention to it.  What I leave on for them is Food Network.  And, if you have a dog with issues when you are not home, wouldn't a crate be more appropriate?  It's guaranteed to keep them safe and out of trouble and you don't have to keep shelling out money for it.  Win win if you ask me.  Just goes to show that people can be led to buy anything.  They even said in the "article" that they can't prove that it works.  They base this on putting cameras on the dogs and tape the responses.  Wouldn't it be funny to find out it was actually the cameras that caused the dogs change in behavior.  Then the cost of video camera can skyrocket and everyone will need one.  LOL

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