June 11, 2017
Should Dogs Watch TV? Some DOGTV Experts Say Yes, Especially For Separation Anxiety [Video]

Some experts say that dogs should watch TV, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety and are left home alone for long periods of time. It isn't uncommon for many working American households to leave pets home for eight hours per day or more. For many dogs, this is a time when boredom can creep in and unfortunately, a bored dog may engage in unpleasant behaviors. Many experts including DOGTV board member Victoria Stilwell recommend leaving dogs home with TV programs designed specifically for them — and yes, your dog will really watch TV.

DOGTV is a cable network that has been specifically created and designed for dogs. This channel isn't the same as Animal Planet where the focus is on dogs, but rather DOGTV uses colors that appeal to a dog's vision, has short programming that is best suited for a dog's attention span, and focuses on three main categories to help dogs thrive: relaxation, stimulation, and exposure. The official DOGTV website explained the benefits of the programming especially for dogs who stay home alone.

"DOGTV is designed as the perfect babysitter for dogs who have to stay home alone. Research shows that dogs feel better in the company of television, especially when the right content is on. DOGTV's three types of programming offer relaxing and stimulating content as well as positive behavioral reinforcements. Dogs that are left alone tend to become anxious so the relaxing sounds and music in the relaxing segment were created to keep the dog calm and peaceful.

"Many dogs also suffer from lack of stimulation, which becomes acute when their owner is away. The stimulating content will provide the dog with invigorating images, animation and exciting real world sounds to keep the dog up and running. DOGTV's programming meets a dog's typical daily cycle and helps prevent mental fatigue, depression and boredom."

According to the Columbus Dispatch, DOGTV began in 2012 as a provider of free content for dog owners who were worried their dogs were spending too much time home alone. The channel debuted in San Diego and the Dispatch quoted Beke Lubeach from DOGTV marketing who stated that dogs enjoy watching television.
"They love watching other dogs being active on the screen and other animals."
Though many dog owners routinely leave the television on for their pets, Victoria Stilwell says that regular television isn't the best choice. Though many dogs enjoy watching other canines on television, dogs can become disturbed by watching commercials, or human narrative interspersed with the programming. According to Stilwell, DOGTV is a better choice because it provides TV geared specifically towards dogs without commercial interruptions or human interference. She also warned of over stimulation where the dogs are receiving non-stop auditory communication and aren't getting any breaks of periods of silence.
Stilwell also explained how dogs vision differs from human vision. Dogs view the world with dichromatic vision. They see shades ranging between yellow and blue but red and green appears gray. Because of the visual differences between human and canine sight, DOGTV provides programming based upon those differences. According to Stilwell, DOGTV's video feed is recalibrated for canine viewing.
The three areas where DOGTV specializes is the real draw to having dogs watch TV. While many people use TV as a way to help dogs relax, they don't often use human-based television programs to provide stimulation for dogs. The practice of watching television has changed over the years and what was once thought to be wasteful viewing has now been recognized as an important learning mechanism. Humans use television programs to relax, learn new subjects, or even do a workout. The same holds true for dogs.

Just like humans can watch a program to relax or unwind, so can dogs. Many children and adults who are home alone will put the television on as a way of combating the sense of unease or even anxiety experienced when alone. Likewise, dogs who are home alone can find comfort by watching television programs specifically tailored for their needs. Homeowners who find their dogs suffering from anxiety or behavioral issues while they are away for extended periods of time or working might find a service like DOGTV beneficial.

Here is a sample of DOGTV relaxation videos that are what dogs will watch via a DOGTV subscription.

The second core feature of DOGTV is stimulation. Some might wonder why they want to provide stimulation for a dog that's home alone. Quite simply, if a dog becomes bored, he or she is more likely to engage in destructive behavior. While there are scenes of quiet relaxation, such as soft music playing while a herd of zebras stares into the camera, too much relaxation can cause a dog to become bored. DOGTV provides relaxation and stimulation.

Stimulation is achieved through videos and programming that increases the tempo or features movement in the program that will stimulate the dog's mind and alert his or her senses. You'll also see scenes where dogs are running or playing and a human voice offers positive praise. By using programming that includes switching from relaxation, stimulation, and exposure the dog has a better experience watching TV, especially when home alone. Check out some of DOGTV's stimulation videos below.

What do you think about dogs watching TV? Have you ever left the television on for your dog?
[Featured Image by Javier Brosch/Shutterstock]