TV channel for dogs to launch nationwide

DogTV, the first television channel designed specifically for dogs, was a veritable hit when it was tested in the San Diego market. Soon this pup-centric channel could be coming to a home near you.

Do not adjust your TV set: Some of the footage on DogTV is altered to suit dogs’ color-perception palette and may look off to humans.

On Aug. 1, DogTV goes live coast-to-coast, and is expected to reach dogs in over 20 million households across the country 24 hours a day. The service will be free for DirecTV satellite customers until Aug. 14, after which it will cost $4.99 per month for your pooch to catch her favorite shows.

“We’ve created the perfect dog sitter so that owners are guilt-free when they leave home and their dogs are relaxed,” CEO Gilad Neumann said in a statement.

As the network launched online in Southern California last year, DogTV Marketing Director Becky Lubeach told NPR’s All Things Considered that the type of programming featured on the channel changes to suit the time of day. Morning content aims to get Fido out of bed and moving for the day, while midday programming — while mom or dad is likely off at work — is more low-key, calming Fido while he is home alone.

“Dogs spend many hours alone at home every day,” Neumann tells Forbes. “As we work harder and both household members usually go out to work, dogs spend a lot more time at home. They’re very lonely, they’re board, they suffer from separation-anxiety often and people look for solutions.”

For dogs scared of things like cars, or loud noises such as thunder or fireworks, DogTV features “exposure” programming, which includes images and sounds of things dogs are commonly afraid of. As the owner increases the volume of the television over time while the exposure program is playing, frightened dogs can eventually grow accustomed to the noises they fear, DogTV co-founder Ron Levi tells USA Today.

The channel even features educational content, Lubeach explained. “My dog was actually featured in a segment where he went to the vet,” she said. “A dog can experience things that they might not encounter in everyday life.”

A lot of thought goes into the creation of every DogTV program, Levi says. DogTV turned to numerous animal psychologists and dog trainers in its inception in order to design the best content for canines. Experts like Tufts University head of animal behavior Dr. Nicholas Dodman, pet behaviorist Warren Eckstein and world-renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell were consulted while the network was getting its start.

The network also conducted its own special market — or, rather, “bark-et” — research, placing cameras into 38 different apartments in order to observe how dogs would react to and interact with DogTV.

“At first we had a lot of barking sounds on the channel,” says Levi. “But we learned that dogs got irritated by that.”

The network finally settled on programming that largely consists of 3 to 6-minute snippets of relaxing content, such as landscapes, and stimulating content, like clips of dogs running and playing.

And because the channel is catered towards our four-legged family members, all programming is optimal for dogs’ hearing and vision capabilities. This means the typical DogTV show might sound and look a little different to the human ear and eye.

“Dogs are color blind,” Neumann explains. “They can only see blue and yellow, they can’t see red and green like humans do.” During post-production, footage is altered so that the colors dogs can most easily see are accentuated.

But fret not, humans — DogTV plans to include an evening “prime-time” block of content for pet owners, too.

For more information on DogTV or any of the channel’s programming, check out the network’s main site or its popular Facebook page. To make sure your furry friends can get access to DogTV when it goes national next month, contact DirecTV today.

Sources: USA Today, NPR, Forbes