If anyone’s ever laughed at you for purposefully leaving the TV on for your pup—and specifically Modern Family reruns because you just know in your heart of hearts it’s his favorite show—then prepare to be validated: Dogs not only watch TV, but they can also benefit from it. In fact, Ron Levi, founder of DogTV, a channel with content designed specifically for dogs, embarked (sorry) on the project after years of research on the pros of canine-specific programming: it can help reduce stress and minimize separation anxiety, for starters. We talked to Levi about what pups really like to watch and why.
They like their version of reality TV
While it may seem like your pup is head over heels for Sofia Vergara, he’s probably more obsessed with her dog, Stella: it’s proven that dogs actually react best to seeing their own species, says Levi. That’s why DogTV films lots of dogs running around, playing, fetching, swimming, sniffing and having a good ole’ doggie time. And because dogs are pretty sensitive to motion, showing them footage of rapidly moving objects and animations, as well as kids playing and adults running with their dogs, is key to keeping them engaged.
They need to see certain colors
So, if dogs love watching animals so much, maybe you’re wondering, Can’t I just turn on National Geographic? Well, sure you can. But Levi reminded us that dogs don’t see the world the same way we do...literally. They only have two color receptors, meaning they see mainly blue, yellow, black, white and shades of grey. DogTV emphasizes those colors to help the dog see the visual image better. Plus, most content on regular TV isn’t from the perspective of a dog. They’re much more likely to be engaged if the filming is from their point of view. Think: footage from a GoPro strapped to a doggo’s head.
They prefer specific sounds
It’s not just about the visuals: We all know dogs have some of the best ears in the biz. While they’re home alone, they love hearing positive affirmations (“good dog”, “don’t be afraid”), as well as sound frequencies (healing tones to relax dogs) and relaxing music. In one of Levi’s studies, 72 percent of dogs became very sleepy and relaxed after listening to psychoacoustic music. (It’s way less trippy than it sounds.) Any shows that incorporate those types of sounds fall into your pup's must-watch list.