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Is TV for dogs barking mad?

Many dog owners say they let their pet watch television, and there’s even a channel designed specifically for pooches left home alone. But is TV for dogs a good idea?

Many dog owners will be familiar with the problem of leaving their pet at home on its own.

A dog left alone in a house can suffer from anxiety caused by separation from its owner.

But with work and other commitments, most have little choice in the matter.

Some owners resort to dog walking services that will call at your home and take your dog for a stroll locally.

But others, it seems, are turning to the television to do the "babysitting" for them.

The ideal babysitter?

In the US, dog owners can tune into Dog TV – a cable television network created exclusively for canines.

The makers of Dog TV claim its 24/7 programing helps to stimulate, entertain and relax dogs.

It does this with television programmes that expose dogs to various sounds, experiences and behaviour patterns as seen from a dog’s point of view.

For owners outside of the US, Dog TV is also available to watch online.

Do dogs really watch TV?

But are dogs really aware of what’s being shown on TV?

According to Dog TV’s makers, dogs do really watch television.

They say dogs respond beautifully to what they see on TV, and even enjoy it most when they see other dogs and animals on screen.

Dog owners

The tales of dog owners also suggest their pets do recognise specific details on television, including other animals.

Dog lover Nerys Chaplin, age 30 from Cardiff, is head of analytics and business intelligence at

She says: "We used to have a border collie, and whenever he heard the theme music to Animal Hospital he’d come running from wherever he was in the house.

"He also used to try to bite the screen whenever One Man and His Dog sheepdog trials were on and there were sheep on the screen."

A gimmick

However, not everybody is convinced that television for dogs is such a good idea.

Caroline Cowan, holder of a Bachelor of Science degree in canine behaviour and training, is an expert in dog psychology and behaviour.

She says: "When helping pets deal with separation issues, I’m worried TV for dogs is a bit of a gimmick.

"Not only may it not help to calm dogs and reduce anxiety, it may actually agitate some."

‘Dogs are individuals’

Caroline recalls an experience of working with one dog that became agitated every time the Coronation Street theme tune played on the television.

The owners couldn’t work out why this was, until they realised there was a glimpse of a cat shown during the opening credits and the dog had begun to associate the music with this.

"Dogs are individuals and what works for one dog is not necessarily right for another dog.

"I’m a bit concerned people may think this is a substitute for other forms of stimulation," she says.

‘Nothing beats a walk in the park’

For people that do have to leave their dogs home alone, there are other ways to keep them entertained, such as activity toys that hold tasty foods and dogs can chew.

"But nothing beats a good walk in the park," adds Cowan.

"Before leaving a dog at home, owners should make sure it is well exercised.

"The best dog to leave home alone is a mentally and physically tired dog."

What do you think?

Does your dog enjoy watching television?

Would you sign up to Dog TV if it became available in the UK?

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