The last time a barking dog came onscreen during family movie night, did your dog perk up? Most of us have seen our dogs respond to something on TV. Maybe they stare intently at the screen for a bit or even jump up and bark. But these days, rather than waiting for the random moment to interest their pup, owners can actively seek out programming designed specifically for dogs. Some swear by it, saying it keeps their dogs calmer and less destructive. However, it’s not for every dog.
The high end of doggy viewing is “Dog TV,” a subscription service offering a library of options—from relaxing to stimulating—available 24/7. A selling point is that the adjusted color and sound to suit the dogs perfectly, making it, in theory, more engaging for them. (The color looks a bit “off” to humans, as a result.) Owners can opt to show their dogs anything from a peaceful beach scene where one dog ambles along next to the surf to an active scene where many dogs are running around having a ball together.
Other dog-oriented options on the market include dog DVDs or YouTube, filled with content for dogs. However, many folks note that their dogs enjoy “regular” TV just as much. With higher voices and plenty of motion, kids’ shows seem to be a particular favorite with many dogs. Soccer games, horse races and even fishing shows also have their canine fans!
While it’s great that some dogs can enjoy screen time, there is a reason for caution. Each dog will react differently, and it’s essential to be thoughtful before leaving a dog alone with that TV on. While some owners find that the relaxation scenes on doggy TV calm their anxious dogs, others say much of the content is wildly overstimulating and often frustrating. Remember, if your dog practices barking wildly at dogs onscreen, you might expect more of that behavior in real life.
One of the best uses for dog TV can be to get your dog used to otherwise foreign sights and sounds—at a nice, non-threatening volume and distance. For example, if you’ve got a puppy but can’t get out and about to socialize him or her properly at the moment, you can carefully expose the pup to new things (the big city! a firetruck! a chicken!) in the comfort of your own home. Add treats to cement the positive feeling.
If you want to check out doggy TV, here’s the best approach: Sit with your dog as you watch together. Start with the relaxing scenes that show a dog from far away, and perhaps a bird, while lovely spa-like music plays. Does it seem to engage your pup without adding stress and intensity? Then that may be a great thing to add to your life together.
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