"Television is going to the dogs," says Ben Forer at ABC News. That's thanks to DOGTV, a "whole new breed" of cable channel making its debut in San Diego. Developed exclusively for a canine audience, DOGTV advertises itself as the "ideal babysitter" for dogs who have to stay home alone. (Watch an introductory video below.) In addition to keeping your dog company, DOGTV claims to help "prevent mental fatigue, depression, and boredom." Here, a guide to this new network:
What sort of shows are on DOGTV?
DOGTV has three kinds of programs, writes Terry Gardner at the Los Angeles Times: "Stimulation (to encourage playfulness), relaxation (to soothe), and exposure (to habituate dogs to daily stimuli that may cause stress, such as crowds, a vacuum cleaner, or a toddler in their face)." A sample stimulative program shows dogs playing with balls, while a soothing program features dogs napping.
Will it turn my dog into a couch potato?
Not at all, says Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian at DOGTV. "We really don't expect [your dog] to sit on the couch and get the channel changer." And even if your pooch does become a couch surfer, "anything's better than the boredom and tedium of being left alone." But really, the aim isn't for dogs "to just sit there for eight hours and watch TV as humans do," says CEO Gilad Neumann. DOGTV is meant to play in the background and "give them some stimulation and... companionship."
Will it work?
There are plenty of skeptics. Dogs don't really pay attention to TV, Katherine Houpt, a professor of animal behavior, tells ABC News. "I've actually found that cats seem to be more interested in television" than dogs are. DOGTV might also have trouble staying afloat. "Can a channel catering to dogs sell ads?" asks Ben Johnson at Slate.
So how should I entertain my dog when he's home alone?
Houpt says most dogs catch up on sleep when you're out of the house. But if your dog is prone to loneliness, Houpt suggests playing soft music and creating a dark environment so your pet feels more secure.
Watch an introductory video on DOGTV: