Dogs are given their own television channel, video phone, and academic journal

You have pushed the frontiers of science again. But forget about space travel, intelligent robots, and cures for deadly diseases.

This time around, behaviorists have added their expertise to a new UK television channel – DogTV. Have you tried seeing it with your pets?

It offers programs to stimulate or relax a dog. They even use special color contrasts as dogs are red-green blind.

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The idea is that people can leave the TV on while they are at work or shopping. Pets can then allay their fears by watching the footage.

We all know animals who have difficulty getting along on their own at home. According to DogTV, every sixth dog suffers from open separation anxiety. Others chew on the furniture, refuse to eat or bark excessively.

But are TV programs really the answer? Will we see Shih Tzus binge-watching seafood or golden retrievers getting in the mood for ball games?

DogTV – also known as “HBO for Dogs” – is available online and on smart TVs, Android and Apple devices. It includes shows like The Dog Chef, Paws For Love, Things We Woof About, The Adoption Show, and Meet The Breed.



Granted, some programs are aimed at people who live with dogs. But most of the camera angles and audio frequencies are designed for four-legged viewers.

It’s the latest in a series of brainwaves targeted to pets’ needs.

Check out Classic FM’s show on Bonfire Night, which featured a music night to help dogs deal with the pops and flashes of fireworks.

And last week I read about the DogPhone, a device developed by Glasgow University lecturer Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas.



The DogPhone accelerometer
The DogPhone accelerometer

There are several products that allow people to interact with their dogs while they work. But so far, none of them have allowed the dog to initiate the video call.

Ilyena hid an accelerometer in a bullet. When a dog shakes the ball, a video conference screen is displayed. She tried it out with her own dog, Zack.

“He called me and I spoke a few words with him and hung up. But when I was busy it wasn’t always so nice, “she said.



Dr.  Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, with her 10-year-old dog Zack
Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, with her 10-year-old dog Zack

Other disadvantages include the propensity for making bum calls.

All of these technical innovations have a broader meaning. You are connected to a growing academic branch devoted to canine research.

In Hungary, for example, scientists from the Eotvos Lorand University have studied dog linguistics. They found that dogs understand far more than simple “sit” and “stay” commands.

Dogs segment speech in the same way that babies understand words. They use the auditory cortex of their brain to do these complex calculations.

Don’t just take my word for it. Read the Academic Journal of Canine Science.

A cursory look at some of the subjects reveals that researchers are studying all kinds of dog phenomena.

One scientific paper is called “Animal Morals: What It Means and Why It Is Important”. And another is entitled “Dog voice: a memoir”.

There are also topics related to dog anatomy, influential figures in dog training, and the science of dog cognition.

Universities don’t just study dogs. They prepare students for professions in dealing with dogs.

You can get a dog-related degree at the University Center Reaseheath – a partnership between Reaseheath College in South Cheshire and the University of Chester. Students can first acquire a basic course and then supplement this with a BSc.

Course topics include dog welfare, clinical behavior and “ethical issues” related to domestic dogs. Students also receive basic business development skills so they can work in the canine industry.

Relevant jobs can include becoming a professional dog trainer, dog sitter, walker, or specializing in rescue dog rehabilitation.

The next logical step is to offer degrees to dogs. I see the potential now.

Tune on DogTV to follow open university style tutorials. There are dogs that have masters, a new meaning.



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