Should Your Dog be Watching TV?

Passionate pet parents who work outside the home or otherwise have to leave their four-legged kids alone for long stretches of time know the worry and guilt that accompanies every exit. You feel bad, but what can you do — you have to work, right? And if time away from your dog comes with behavior problems such as chewing, peeing or other forms of separation anxiety, add frustration to the list of emotions you’re feeling. Could DogTV be the solution?

What’s DogTV?

Well, it’s just what it sounds like — a network that plays canine-friendly programming 24/7. Partially owned by Discovery Communications, the same company that owns Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet, DogTV’s official website claims the content has been scientifically developed to provide “the right” company for dogs who have been left alone. They are exposed to shows that contain “movements, sounds, objects, experiences and behavior patterns, all from a dog’s perspective.” The result is supposed to be a happy dog who’s less likely to experience stress, separation anxiety or other related problems.

So how much does this all cost? It’s pretty reasonable, actually:

  • If you add it as a channel to your DirecTV package, it’ll run you $5 a month
  • Or, you can stream it from for $10 a month
  • Of course, unless your dog is in the habit of sitting at your desktop PC, it’ll probably be easier to use a streaming device like a Roku and play it on your TV

There are three different categories of content: relaxation, stimulation and exposure. Check out a sample episode “relaxation” episode below:

Does It Work?

That depends on whom you ask. Cornell University professor of animal behavior Katherine Houpt told that dogs don’t want to watch TV while you’re gone, and according to this Chicagoan’s post, Houpt is right. Evan MacLean, senior research scientist and codirector of the Duke Canine Cognition Center at Duke University, told Fast Company that due to differences in dog vision, they don’t see what we see when we watch TV.

“Dog vision has a greater temporal resolution than human vision,” MacLean explained. “Traditional TVs had a refresh rate of 50 to 60 Hz, which for humans allows us to see the image as one uninterrupted and continuous image. But because of differences in dog vision, dogs may actually pick up on the subtle and rapid refreshing of the image on the screens with this refresh rate. Have you ever seen a home movie with a TV screen in the background of the video? It’s jumpy and incoherent, and this may be how dogs see a lot of TVs.”

But for every expert opinion on the matter, there seems to be a piece of anecdotal evidence that dogs not only watch TV, they enjoy the heck out of it. In a survey of dog owners conducted by the American Kennel Club, nearly half reported having dogs who showed interest in what happens on TV. Go ahead and stick “videos of dogs watching TV” into Google — there are more than 60 million results (Sixty. Million.). The same search on YouTube yields about 129,000 results. If DogTV occupies your dog’s attention while he or she is home alone for even a short time, that’s a good thing… right?

The Upshot?

Everybody agrees DogTV can’t hurt matters, so you may want to give it a try. Don’t expect it to provide a behavioral miracle in your beloved pooch, either. You can always cancel your subscription if Fido isn’t a fan.