This year’s summer blockbuster wasn’t just for Beverly Hills chihuahuas, but it was all for dogs.
DirecTV just launched the DogTV network, showing three-to-five-minute videos alternating among “relaxing” programming (landscapes), “stimulating” themes (dogs cavorting) and “exposure” content with images and sounds that often scare dogs (fireworks, thunderstorms). The idea is to condition dogs to overcome their fears, says DogTV co-founder Ron Levi, as well as to enrich their experience while they await their owner’s return.
The idea of DogTV is to condition dogs to overcome their fears, says co-founder Ron Levi
The 24/7 network is free to DirecTV subscribers until Aug. 14. After that, there will be a $4.99 monthly charge. For full-time workers who already pay for daily dogwalks, that isn’t much of a surcharge for the possibility of an incremental increase in our best friend’s contentment.
DogTV.com includes a video clip of the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States recommending visual and auditory stimulation for your dog when you are away. The site also quotes the Petcare and Information Advisory Service: “A television can provide all important mental stimulation for dogs and help prevent boredom behavior.”
Before launching, Levi says DogTV consulted animal psychologists, trainers and research that shows certain sounds can calm a dog. After field-testing dogs’ reactions to the programming, the founders toned down the barking on the channel, because it seemed to irritate canine viewers.
If you’ve heard that dogs see TV imagery as flickering, dogtv.com allays that concern too:
“The human eye discerns flickering movement at a rate of 50-60 Hz while in dogs, that same ‘flicker fusion rate’ is as high as 70-80 Hz. Older television sets, with a CRT screen, refreshed their picture at a rate of 50-60 Hz with the result of a smooth picture for humans and a flicker nightmare for dogs. New LCD technology however, has changed all that. The refresh rate on the newer television screens is now 100Hz and up, perfect for continuous canine viewing.” The colors on the screen, the brightness and contrast are adjusted to fit dogs’ hearing and seeing abilities (so some of it may look or sound odd to you).
If DogTV seems to take niche programming to an extreme, consider that nearly 57 million U.S. households own dogs, for a total of about 83 million dogs owned, according to the American Pet Products Association. Total U.S. spending on pets is expected to hit a record $56 billion this year, up from $53 billion last year and $51 billion in 2011, according to the APPA.
By Wendy Donahue, for American Dog Club
About American Dog Club: Our mission is to provide world class puppies that set the standard of excellence. We are passionate about our obligation to our puppies and customers. Our goal is to help you connect with the right special puppy. All our puppies are selected personally from our experienced puppy specialist to insure health, temperament and quality. All of our puppies will be AKC registered at time of purchase and a free vet package is provided. Each and every potential parent must receive a 45 minute orientation on the care, feeding and housebreaking of your new baby. We offer support and training to properly care for your new family member. American Dog Club does not support puppy mills, hobby or back yard breeders.