A while back, we wrote about dogs watching television and mentioned that there was actually a channel designed exclusively for dogs. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the channel (DogTV), and I’ll share my personal experiences with it too.
You can check out our article about dogs watching TV here, but read on to learn more about DogTV.
DogTV was founded in 2009 with the goal of providing interesting and stimulating content for dogs. It was created in conjunction with a variety of veterinarians, trainers, and scientists, who sought to tailor the programming for the eyes, ears, interests, and attention spans of dogs.
DogTV was first launched in a single California market in 2012. The channel proved to be quite popular, and a shelter in Escondido, California reported fantastic results after showing the channel to the dogs in their care. Even dogs that could only hear the programming, but could not see the screen, seemed to find the channel soothing.
Currently, DogTV is available in most US markets through Comcast Xfinity, Direct TV Nationwide and RCN. You can also stream the program over the internet using most common devices.
The terms, conditions, costs, and availability of the channel will vary from one market to the next, so you’ll have to contact your service provider to find out the particulars. However, in my area (Atlanta, GA), with my cable package, it costs about $5 a month. It will set you back about $10 a month to subscribe to the online streaming service.
What’s the Point of DogTV? Do Dogs Even Like Watching Television?
DogTV seeks to do what most other television channels seek to do: Entertain and combat boredom – particularly while your dog is home alone. And, while some dogs appear to be more interested in the channel than others, it does seem to accomplish this goal.
Many dogs seem to like watching TV anyway, and this channel seems to be especially interesting to them. The internet is littered with positive user reviews and videos of dogs watching DogTV intently.
But, DogTV also seeks loftier accomplishments. Entertaining dogs and keeping them occupied while you aren’t home certainly has value, but several of the programming categories included with the channel are designed to accomplish other goals.
There are, for example, programs designed to calm your dog and encourage sleep, while others seek to desensitize your dog to often-upsetting stimuli.
When you pull up the channel on your TV or streaming device, you’ll see various categories containing individual programs.
The categories change occasionally, but they usually include the following:
Programming for Dogs
This is the category that contains the channel’s basic dog programming. There are 20 or so different episodes from which you can choose, and each one is about 4 hours in length and broken down into a number of segments.
Each segment features things to catch and keep your dog’s attention. This includes things like dogs playing fetch, performing tricks, wrestling around with other dogs, and going for walks with their humans. These segments take place in a variety of locations, including parks, the beach, and people’s homes.
Most of the episodes feature classical music, jingle-like music or natural sounds (birds, waves, etc.), as well as people saying, “Who’s a good boy?” and similar things at random points during the programs.
The Specials category features programs designed to achieve a specific goal, such as to calm your dog or expose her to the sounds of fireworks. There are also a few animated segments, which display things like balls rolling around on a ramp or bubbles bouncing around and popping on the screen.
About DogTV provides basic information about the channel.
Dogs A to Z
This category features brief little segments explaining various aspects of dog care and dog-related issues for human viewers.
DOGSTAR features user-submitted videos of dogs doing silly things or watching DogTV. Your dog may like these programs, but they are primarily intended for humans.
The Adoption Show
A show for humans that introduces you to a variety of dogs in need of a good family. Those who adopt a dog from the show get a sack full of awesome goodies too.
The Science of DogTV
When you turn on DogTV, you’ll probably notice that the screen looks a little different, as the colors are shifted to suit your dog’s eyes. Dogs have dichromatic, rather than trichromatic vision like we do, so their color perception is based on a blue-to-yellow gradient.
Additionally, the contrast is juiced up a bit, making the images really pop off the screen. You’ll also notice that many of the segments are shot from dog-eye-level, creating a bit of a first-person point of view. Ultimately, this combination of factors helps to make the channel more interesting to dogs than regular TV programming is.
DogTV claims to have developed the channel while consulting more than 60 different studies conducted by universities around the world. Although they don’t specifically cite many of these studies, they do mention a few, including:
- A 2003 study conducted at Eötvös Loránd University, in Budapest, Hungary, which examined the ability of dogs to understand television images of humans.
- A 1998 study, published in Animal Behavior, which examined color perception by dogs when viewing TV programming.
- A 2005 study, published in Animal Welfare, which examined the effects of visual stimulation on dogs in a rescue center.
- A 2002 study, conducted at Queen’s University Belfast, which examined the influence of auditory stimulus on dogs housed in a rescue shelter.
None of these studies prove that your dog will enjoy watching DogTV, but it is clear that many dogs are interested in the type of visual and auditory stimuli the channel produces.
Personal Experiences With DogTV
My wife and I signed up for DogTV about two months ago to see how our dog would react.
Our Rottie already loves watching television, so we expected her to be pretty interested in DogTV. Surprisingly, her level of interest surpassed our wildest hopes. She absolutely loves it, and her reaction to the channel is completely different than it is to regular TV.
She immediately plops down in front of the TV when I put the channel on, and then she starts binging like only a Stranger Things fan could. She locks her eyes on the screen and follows the action with her head while rolling her ears forward to appreciate the sounds coming from the speakers.
Unlike regular TV, which only keeps her interest for 15 minutes or so, she’ll watch DogTV for at least an hour at a time. She even gets excited whenever I pick up the remote control and ask her if she wants to watch TV.
Unfortunately, our dog is a little reactive; so, she occasionally gets riled up and starts barking and lunging at the screen. Because of this overeager response, we can’t allow her to watch it unsupervised. But, because I work from home, this isn’t a big problem.
We are clearly fans of the channel and will continue subscribing for the foreseeable future. However, like everything else, DogTV has a few strengths and weaknesses.
What’s Good About DogTV?
It clearly appears to interest most dogs, and it gets their little brains going.
Many of the sounds are actually quite soothing, even to human ears.
There are a variety of programs to appeal to different dogs and accomplish different goals.
It may prove useful for altering your dog’s behavior. For example, it appears to have made my dog a bit less reactive, and numerous owners have reported that it has been useful for treating separation anxiety.
You may find it enjoyable yourself. I have to admit that I catch myself zoning out to the channel with my pup at times. However, I’m pretty smitten with dogs; you may not find it terribly interesting.
What’s Not-So-Good About DogTV?
While there are hours of programs, there is a lot of repetitive content. For example, you’ll see the same dog interacting in the same place with the same people in several different individual programs. This doesn’t appear to bother dogs, but you may find it a bit boring.
The programs designed to calm a dog haven’t worked for my dog — at all.
Personally, I would prefer if they’d have included more content featuring large dogs. You’ll see a bunch of Chihuahuas, corgis, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and a few labs, but I can’t remember ever seeing Rotties, Dobermans, St. Bernards, Great Danes or any other big breeds. This is probably another issue that won’t bother dogs, but may be disappointing to people.
It may stimulate your dog a little more than desired. I’d recommend monitoring your dog carefully for a while before allowing her to watch while unsupervised. You don’t want your pooch to hurt herself or smash your TV.
Do you subscribe to DogTV? We’d love to hear about your impressions of the channel. Does your dog enjoy it or seem unimpressed? Do you think it is worth the cost? Tell us all about your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.