Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 28, 2013

Kenneth Hart: Sit up and beg — for the remote: 7/28/13

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — Ever get the feeling TV is going to the dogs? Well, guess what — it is. And, in a very literal sense, I might add.

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to DogTV.

Oh, a new cable network dedicated to shows about dogs, you’re thinking. Could be interesting.

Not quite. It seems DogTV — which will make its debut Thursday on the DirecTV satellite system — will offer programming FOR dogs, not about them.

That’s right, the latest product aimed at folks for whom simply leaving the TV on for their dogs simply won’t do is Fido’s own 24/7 digital TV channel, showing nothing but shows developed exclusively for him.

According to the network’s website, DogTV was developed as a dog-sitting tool. It’s designed to keep Rover occupied while his owners are away and he’s home alone so he feels less stressed and might not be as inclined to chew on the furniture or befoul the carpet.

“Through years of research with some of the world’s top pet experts, special content was created to meet specific attributes of a dog’s sense of vision and hearing and supports their natural behavior patterns,” the website states. “The result: a confident, happy dog, who’s less likely to develop stress, separation anxiety or other related problems.”

DogTV’s programs are specially made for dogs’ unique hearing and vision, sort of the equivalent of a dog whistle that’s inaudible to human ears, according to the network. And, it’s supposedly backed by up by science. A team of veterinarians, expert dog trainers, and behaviorists spent more than four years developing and testing the type of programming that will appeal to dogs.

The shows will be divided into three categories based on doggie needs, the website states.

‰“Relaxation — content designed to help the dogs relax, reduce their stress level and keep them calm through soothing music, sounds and visuals.

‰“Stimulation — dogs need to be stimulated, which is hard to achieve when they are home alone. DogTV uses stimulating scenes with and without other animals, animation sequences and a variety of moving objects to stimulate the dogs. Great care is taken to use just the rights sounds and frequencies to encourage the dog’s playfulness even when home alone.

‰“Exposure — based on the most advanced veterinary science, DogTV uses special sounds and visuals to help habituate the dog and make him more comfortable in his environment, by exposing him to different day-to-day stimuli.”

All this for a modest monthly subscription fee, which, the network states, is necessary since DogTV won’t show commercials — which kind of makes sense, I suppose, since convincing advertisers they should pitch their products to an all-canine audience would probably be a bit of a tough sell.

 I read through the FAQs on the DogTV website, and I found it raised a number of additional questions in my mind.

Like, will the network broadcast shows aimed at more mature dogs during the late-night hours, like TV networks designed for humans often do?

“WARNING: The following program contains graphic content that should not be viewed by canines that are under 35 in dogs years.”

And, shouldn’t dog owners be concerned that watching TV all the time could cause their pets to turn into overweight couch potatoes?

“I just don’t understand it, doctor. My Lassie used to love to play fetch. Now I can’t pry her away from the TV long enough to go outside.”

And, most importantly, will DogTV lead to the development of networks for other types of pets?

I sure hope so. My hamster gets awfully bored while I’m away at work.

KENNETH HART can be reached at (606) 326-2654.