DOGTV: Is It Worth The $5 A Month?


Putting A Price On Pooch Entertainment

Ever feel bad for leaving Fido behind while you go to work? Well, you no longer have to. A television channel, newly bought by Discovery Communications, is now streaming for Fido’s viewing pleasure while you’re away—DOGTV. The network, which only streams through a computer, through DirecTV, or through a device like Roku, has three settings: stimulation, relaxation, and exposure.

But until a year ago, our four legged companions were not a target audience for network television. Why, you may ask. Well, the research that created stations like this was…lacking to say the least. In 1997, the television network Puppy Channel came out, which had videos exclusively of puppies. This network was not just for dogs, but did, in part, want to engage that audience. Now, the Puppy Channel is exclusively an online affair. Dogs are a hard audience to please.

In contrast, DOGTV stands on two years of research and over 40 studies of animal behavior. To put it frankly, the folks at DOGTV seem to know their stuff. The questions become, then: are owners buying it? And does the research actually work when put into practice?

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The Research

DOGTV’s claim to fame is the research behind it. Along with the many studies DOGTV conducted to get dogs to watch, DOGTV also has an award winning team of professors, doctors, and pet psychologists on staff legitimize it. With the information the channel gathered from these sources, DOGTV made their channel friendly for furry eyes.

Take, for example, the coloring of the shows on the screen. Primarily, the content’s coloring is blue and yellow. Why, you ask? “Dogs are color blind,” Gilad Neumann, CEO of DOGTV, said, “they can only see blue and yellow, they can’t see red and green like humans do.” To keep the content interesting for dogs, then, DOGTV airs most of its programming in hues of blue and yellow.

You might be wondering if your dog can actually perceive the same images that you can on TV. The answer lies in the TV you own, DOGTV’s website announces. Dogs discern flickering images at about 70-80Hz per minute, while humans do so at a rate of 50-60Hz, which is about the rate that older TVs refresh their screens. While we might not see that much of a difference between the images on that screen and images on newer LCD screens, dogs can because these screens process images at 100Hz.

Audio-wise, DOGTV aims to interest dogs and also relax them when noises occur. In fact, one of the biggest selling points for DOGTV is its ability to reduce anxiety caused by certain sounds—like the ringing of a doorbell. By increasing the dog’s exposure to it, DOGTV says, dogs will become more acquainted with the sounds.


But countless reviews have shown evidence against DOGTV’s abilities. Owners across the country have been complaining that their dogs do not pay attention to the screen or are agitated by it. These owners, who report multiple attempts and troubleshooting to get their dogs to engage positively, usually end up cancelling their prescriptions.

One of the biggest issues that arose with the creation of DOGTV is that it doesn’t smell like anything a dog would be interested in. “Dogs are not primarily visual,” said Alexandra Horotwitz, professor of psychology, animal behavior, and canine cognition and author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know when she spoke to Slate on this subject. “What interests them is typically smell first, sight second.” It might be better, then, to develop smellovision for dogs, as they are more likely to react to that.

Dogs have also adapted to our patterns of coming and going, and they sleep most of the time we’re gone. “Most dogs sleep while you're gone and wake up every 20 minutes or so,” Katherine Houpt, a Cornell University professor of animal behavior, told Slate. As a result, dogs will probably not pay attention to the screen except to bark at it for being too loud during prime nap time.

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Helpful Or A Hoax?

While there are people on both sides of the spectrum, DOGTV would probably be best utilized on a case by case basis. It might be wise to show your dog the example videos on DOGTV’s website before purchasing it to see how he or she will react. Nothing replaces exercise and family time, though, something both sizes of the DOGTV debate can agree on.

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