Watch Dog

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Why do humans love their dogs so much?

According to animal behaviorist at Azabu University in Japan, humans emit the same feel-good hormone, Oxytocin, when they look at their dog, as when new parents look at their newborn. Am I really saying that dogs are the equivalent of a new born baby? Hormonally speaking, yes. Not only do pets effect your hormones but they can also lower cholesterol, relieve stress and boost self-esteem. It’s no wonder why people love their pooches! Now, how have people utilized technology in loving their pooches?

DogTV! 

Everyone has felt guilty about leaving Pickles home alone all day long. We can spoil them with monthly packages from BarkBox but who is there to throw those toys for them? (For humans, BarkBox is a monthly box of unique paw-picked toys and all-natural treats. For dogs, it’s the joy of a thousand belly scratches. For mailmen, it’s burying the bone and hatchet). Nothing beats human interaction and a real belly rub. We know dogs benefit from human interaction just as we do, therefore, we created DogTV.

So what is DogTV?

According to DirectTV’s website, DogTV’s 24/7 programing helps stimulate, entertain, relax and habituate dogs with shows that expose them to various movements, sounds, objects, experiences and behavior patterns, all from a dog’s point of view.What does a dogs point of view look like?

Here’s a 2 min example of a relaxation episode.

DogTV founder, Ron Levi, did his research on what dogs actually wanted. The three categories of the show are (1) Stimulation (2) Relaxation and (3) Exposure. Stimulation consists of clips like a dog chasing a frisbee or surfing in California, in other words,  dogs enjoy seeing other dogs. Relaxation features landscapes as seen in the example clip above. Lastly, exposure is about slowly exposing them to everyday sounds that may usually spook them – like the dreaded vacuum cleaner or a ringing doorbell.

Levi certainly developed the channels with the dogs in mind. Levi found that dogs did not actually enjoy watching other dogs bark but still enjoyed seeing them on the television. Dogs also have extremely short attention spans, so the clips are short to continuously appeal to them. The common perception that dogs are colorblind is false — humans simply see more red, yellow and blue while dogs only see yellow and blue. Dogs brains process visual imagery faster than human brains which actually makes it easier for dogs to watch TV. DogTV is specifically designed to accommodate dogs special vision (called dichromatic spectrum vision) and they broadcast with high frame rates. 

Levi also developed shows within DogTV for dog parents! The programs include famous dog trainers like Victoria Stilwel or Professors like Nicholas Dodman from Animal Behavior Department at Tufts University to present on various dog-related subjects (perhaps an episode on how I get my dog to stop rubbing his butt on my carpet?). The network launched in the U.S and Israel and is in conversation with European markets. 
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Just as too much TV is bad for people, it can also be bad for dogs. Evan MacLean, Ph.D, senior research scientist and codirector of the Duke Canine Cognition Center at Duke University believes that DogTV may “potentially have value for some dogs that spend a lot of time at home by themselves. But this comes with a word of caution that if programs are distracting or overly arousing, they may also have some negative effects in terms of the dogs’ ability to relax.” Remember to allow the pups to watch in moderation!

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PetChatz

DogTV is not the only technology interactions with dogs. Going even further than DogTV is PetChatz. PetChatz allows you to ‘Skype’ with your pet while you are not home and even give them a treat! Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 6.56.56 PM.pngThese home systems (installed at the eye-level of a dog) are being pre-ordered for around $350.PetChatz comes with a speaker, webcam microphone, treat and scent dispenser with motion detection and treat level alerts. It has a “very pet-safe design,” in other words, it has to be indestructible. Using this technology, PetChatz hopes to repurpose their pet product to be used as a medicine dispenser. This would help with elderly people and reminders from family or medical professionals to take their medication and easy communication.

Money

You may be thinking that DogTV and PetChatz is silly, who would use that? There’s no way this is profitable. Currently, in the U.S. there are 312.1 million domesticated pets living in 129.8 million households. Cats and dogs are by far the most popular pets, with 75% of pet-owning households having at least one. The APPA found that in 2016 U.S. pet owners are expected to spend $62.75 billion on their furry (or scaly) friends. That estimate is up about 4% from the $60.28 billion spent last year. In fact, total U.S. pet industry expenditures have gone up every single year that the association has collected this data, which it began doing in 1994. That first year, the industry was worth $17 billion. DogTV and PetChatz are just the first to tap into an untouched billion dollar industry.

Now, what does your dog do while you are gone for the day? DogTV is only $4.99 a month…

6 comments

  1. magicjohnshin1 · ·

    Your title drew me to reading your blog because, who doesn’t like dogs? There was a ton of great data throughout the article and I really enjoyed reading it. There were so many interesting facts about dogs that I also had prior misconceptions. I always thought dogs were colorblind as well, but I’ll take your word for it. It’s actually pretty funny to see how technology and TV can impact a dog’s life. Anyways, great blog and can’t wait to read more, cheers!

  2. I love dogs, and I know I’m not alone! There’s a running joke in my office about how much we love dog videos, especially when we’re stressed. We’re always looking for puppy live feeds too, mostly from breeders or the ASPCA. Your oxytocin comment makes complete sense in our case. My colleagues make the same noises and expressions when looking at these puppies as they do when a baby visits the office: “So cute! Look, he rolled over! They’re so snuggly!” Oxytocin FTW!

  3. This is a great post. Definitely an angle on SM that I haven’t seen before (and that’s quite an accomplishment!). I’m going to have to come back later to read it in greater depth.

  4. Jenny C. · ·

    It’s funny you blogged about dogs this week since my marketing class today was just talking about how big the pet industry is. This concept of DogTV actually reminds me about my presentation on living vicariously through your monitor and how it’s perhaps isn’t just a human thing to enjoy watching those of the same species live out their lives. Although one thing I am curious about is how the PetChatz system is activated; do owners turn on the system through their mobile devices if they want to chat with their pets at home or is it something that Pickles will have to learn to power on by himself at home?

  5. evanryou · ·

    I think it’s interesting how such a big industry is probably unknown to most of the population. I think one point you touched on about the benefits of DogTV is super important. Although this is a huge industry, the effects of the products have not been researched heavily yet and could negatively impact the animals in the long run. On the flip side, I see a potential market where DogTV is actually beneficial for the animals if enough time and research is invested into them. As more and more people get busy, DogTV will become increasingly popular, so this is definitely something to keep an eye on.

  6. This was super interesting, Caroline! I wonder how research was conducted to develop engaging programming. I know that Sesame Street airs many of their episodes to a test audience of 3 year olds in order to track their attention spans — it’s amusing to imagine a dog test audience being observed in a similar manner. I’m intrigued by the future implications of PetChatz system being used for medicinal purposes, there will certainly have to be extra precautions to make sure that medicine is actually administered and taken properly as opposed to making sure a dog gets his/her treat. Great Post!

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