Home Alone: Is Your Dog Lonely? Could TV Help?
Dogs are pack animals. They’re highly social creatures. So it stands to reason that dogs get lonely when they must spend much of their time alone. In reality, we have become their “pack”, and when they become separated from us they crave our companionship.
If it were up to our dogs, they’d be by our side 24/7. But as much as we would love to oblige, we must be realistic – someone has to bring home the kibble.
Unfortunately dogs have become the “latchkey kids” of our generation. In today’s world, the majority of dog owners must leave their dogs home alone while they go out to earn a living. They are often left behind again when we must go out on weekends to do shopping and errands.
Do we feel bad about leaving our dogs home alone? Absolutely. A study by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) found that 75 percent of pet owners feel guilty about leaving their pets behind when they go to work. And 38 percent of those pet owners call home to talk to their pets while they’re away.
John Bradshaw, director of the Anthrozoology Institute at Bristol University in the U.K., suggests that dogs who are left home alone can feel just as traumatized and isolated as children who have been abandoned by their parents. In his study of 20 dogs whose parents believed they were perfectly happy being left home alone, hidden cameras found otherwise. Many of the dogs showed signs of distress. Some dogs even walked round and round in circles at the door, displaying heavy breathing and whining.
Dogs experiencing separation anxiety may express their despair in different ways including destructive chewing, barking, whining, urinating – some even resorted to self mutilation. Some dogs become depressed and stop eating. Other dogs suffer in silence, showing no outward symptoms.
Animal behaviorists agree that dogs need environmental stimulation, just as humans do. As their caretakers, it is our responsibility to provide our dogs with activities to keep them actively engaged and entertained while we are away.
Dog walkers and doggy daycare are good options for dog owners who can afford it. But these solutions may be out of reach to dog owners who have a tight budget.
Surveys show that about 60 percent of dog owners leave the TV or radio on for “company” when they go to work. But regular TV and radio programming is geared toward humans, not dogs. Dogs don’t find it interesting. And depending on the content in the broadcast, it could actually irritate our dogs, causing more harm than good.
Dog owners now have another option called DOGTV. As the first TV network scientifically developed exclusively for dogs, DOGTV has special programming that appeals to a dog’s unique visual, auditory and emotional sensibilities. This is something dogs actually want to watch.
This programming took more than four years for veterinarians, trainers and animal behaviorists to develop and test. From the sights, sounds and music to the colors, transitions and camera angles, DOGTV was designed for how our dogs perceive their world. DOGTV content is organized into entertaining, relaxing, stimulating, and behavior-improving segments that work together to provide just the right balance for the daily cycle of our beloved “stay-at-home” pups.
Read what these industry experts are saying about DOGTV:
“This will be a breakthrough for the millions of dogs that are left home alone every day.” – Nick Dodman, Head of Animal Behavior Department, Tufts University, Massachusetts
“Animals need stimulation. We’re really excited about the idea of DogTV bringing enrichment and stimulation to dogs when people are gone. Leave the TV on. Give the dog the opportunity to have his visual and auditory stimulation. It’s great for them, and it’s great for us.”
– Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO, Humane Society of the United States
DOGTV. content is scientifically designed to desensitize dogs and expose them to different day-to-day stimuli. Relaxing sounds and music have been created to keep anxious dogs calm. Invigorating images, animation and playful music will help dogs that suffer a lack of stimulation.