I heard something on NPR this morning that I had expected to come for some time, and now it’s here. Finally! Television specifically for dogs!
I used to have one of those “cat sitting” videos for my kitty that was basically one frame of a bird in a cage, another of a hamster on a wheel and a third of the same squirrel in the same park chomping on the same nuts over and over and over again. The video quality wasn’t even that good. (It was a VHS as well.) Anyway, I had no idea if my cat even liked it. I know I got more entertainment out of it than she did. It was hilarious to me that these were made and sold and that I bought one.
But now, there’s more…TV for dogs! This is not the old, different-views-of the-same-squirrel programming that I was subjecting my cat to. This is DOGTV. (We all know when it’s for dogs it’s more serious, right?) So, the idea is that you leave this on to entertain your dogs while you are not home. A babysitter of sorts.
Supposedly, DOGTV is the ideal babysitter for what some call “home alone” dogs. The makers claim that, “Research shows that dogs feel better in the company of television, especially when the right content is on.” There is no data included nor is there a link to this specific research, but if I were to guess I’d think that if you have your TV on constantly while you’re home, your dog will probably be more comfortable with it on while you’re away. I’m also going to go out there and guess that people who do not have their TV on often while they are at home will not subscribe to this. So – probably their “research” is correct.
They also claim to provide “television for dogs with three types of programming offering relaxing and stimulating content as well as positive behavioral reinforcements.” Well then…why bother with an expensive trainer, or all of that complicated time spent learning to communicate with my dog, giving her positive reinforcements myself? ? If I can turn on my television and my dog can watch other dogs “sit” and “stay” for the UPS man, surely she will get the idea that she should be acting the same way. Voilà! No more unwanted behavior or hours spent training and playing with my dog – my dog can learn while I’m at happy hour! Hmm…This may sound far fetched, but I’m willing to bet there are people out there who are going to actually think this.
Don’t get me wrong here, I think DOG TV is a great idea. I am a fan of television for entertainment purposes and I know Polly loves to watch “Lassie” and “Oregon Field Guide”, especially if there’s cattle wrangling or bird watching going on. Another one of her favorites are the X-Games snowboarding events. Maybe the contrast of the snow and the snowboarder’s movements make her think of flying squirrels?
The thing I hope everyone keeps in mind, as we – as a society continually travel down that road of “more things and less responsibility” is that television is not a trainer and it does not communicate with, or exercise your pet. Television is not a babysitter. It also cannot create that special bond that real, quality interaction and shared experiences do. Please spend more time with your pets. Know them and love them as a part of the family . They depend and rely on you with their love and trust. Enjoy and watch DOGTV And any other television for entertainment only!
UPDATE: The New York Times published this piece on August 30, 2012 about DOG TV stating mixed and entertaining results. Check it out!