Will DOGTV Turn Your Pooch Into a Couch Pet-ato?
Television is going to the dogs in San Diego with DOGTV, a new 24-hour channel for pooches that is meant to keep your dog company while you are gone.
According to the people behind the channel, the combination of devouring programing and pet treats will be "a confident, happy dog who's less likely to develop stress, separation anxiety or other related problems."
DOGTV, which launched on Cox and Time Warner digital cable systems in San Diego this week, is intended for dogs that are left at home during the day.
"If you are leaving your dog everyday and you feel bad about it and you'd like to do something that would improve the life of your dog … than this is a great, great opportunity," Gilad Neumann, CEO of DOGTV, told ABC News. "Dogs that are left home alone for a few hours everyday tend to be very lonely, they develop behavioral issues, they are bored, they are stressed and leaving the TV on with proper content gives them comfort. It relaxes them, it stimulates them at times … basically it's a little like a companion when they are left home alone."
Sample programming includes a video of dogs playing with balls to give your pet stimulation, dogs sleeping to help soothe them, and one has a dizzying dogs-eye view out the car window.
Dr. Katherine Houpt, professor of animal behavior at Cornell University, said the secret is likely in the audio, not the video.
"People have looked at TV and dogs in kennels and they didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it. While it's a nice idea, I don't think it's going to be that successful," Houpt told ABC News. "I've actually found that cats seem to be more interested in television. … [Dogs] probably pay more attention to the sound, but the main thing is dogs probably don't want to be entertained while you're away. What dogs do mostly during the day when you're not around is sleep."
Houpt said that while dogs do experience loneliness and separation anxiety, if you're a dog owner, it is best to play soft music and create a dark environment so the dog feels secure when you are not at home.
Neumann concedes that they don't expect dogs to sit and watch TV for hours on end.
"We are not intending to create couch potatoes out of our dogs. They're not intended to just sit there for eight hours and watch TV as humans do. But we do create a relaxing and soothing environment for them," Neumann said. "Music plays a very important role. … Dogs are just going about doing what they do everyday. They sleep at times, they are walking around at times and in the background they have something that gives them some stimulation and really gives them some companionship."
DOGTV is not alone in using technology to cater to canines. According to the Daily Mail, a commercial for dog food in Britain includes a high-pitched sound, which humans cannot hear. The sound is designed to get a dog's attention and the hope is that the dog's owner will be more likely to watch the ad if the dog shows interest.
TV is going to the dogs, the only question now is whether the four-legged viewers can get their two-legged owners to foot the bill.