What Makes Good TV For Dogs?
One of the hardest parts of being a pet parent is having to say goodbye and leave them at home when it’s time to run an errand. Of course, your pet feels it, too. Many dog parents report that their loved one starts to get antsy or anxious before they even head out the door. Managing serious separation anxiety is another issue, but for cutting down on mild stress or boredom, there’s one thing many dog parents turn to: TV. It turns out that our favorite method for passing time works on dogs, too!
Research from the Center for Canine Behavior Studies shows that 59% of dog parents leave a TV or radio on for their dogs when they leave the house. But what, exactly, makes for “good” TV for dogs? The ideal content for pups should keep them relaxed and stimulated without being overly exciting. And interestingly enough, TV can even be used to get dogs accustomed to certain stimuli, essentially training them for future real-world scenarios.
It’s packed with color (and other dogs)
One thing to know off the bat: not all dogs are going to be interested in TV. Research shows that a certain percentage of dogs (13% in one study) simply do not care about it and never engage with TV. But most dogs will pay attention, especially to content specifically oriented towards them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that type of content consists of mostly other dogs.
It’s been proven that dogs like to see other dogs on screen, according to Ron Levi, the founder and chief creative officer of DOGTV, a streaming service specifically for dogs. Barking, however, is a no-go, as any parent whose dog has gotten too excited at a barking dog on TV can tell you. For that reason, soundtracks on DOGTV are usually playful or relaxing music, often classical. Otherwise, you might return home to your dog tackling the TV.
Another important element to the visuals: color. No, dogs don’t see in black-and-white. Instead, they experience what is basically red-green colorblindness and a reduced color intensity overall. To make up for this, TV for dogs turns the color saturation way up. (Think of your dog’s toys: they’re brightly colored for a reason.)
It has multiple “channels”
Of course, just like any TV viewer, dogs crave variety. For that reason, content on DOGTV is broken up into four different categories: stimulation, relaxation, exposure and MyDOGTV (which is designed for humans and features content like how to cook dog treats and dog parenting tips). The stimulation and relaxation categories are what you’d expect: videos designed to either hold your dog’s interest or soothe them, depending on what they need throughout the day. The exposure category incorporates common stimuli like car horns or crowd noise in a limited way, allowing them to get accustomed to these sounds and better handle them in the future. With DOGTV’s “Live Feed” mix, they combine the different categories, so your pup gets a variety of content throughout the day.
Overall, the research supports the use of TV for dogs. One study found that introducing puppies to noises they would experience later on reduced their anxiety as adults, so TV could be used to acclimate them to city life. The Center for Canine Behavior Studies study on DOGTV showed that dogs who had TV on during the day were quieter and less agitated. Just like you might throw on your favorite show to chill out, dogs appreciate the tube, too. But don’t worry, they’ll still be psyched to see you when you come home.