Cesar Millan, the animal behaviorist known as the Dog Whisperer, says that many dogs enjoy watching TV and that it’s a good activity for people to share with their pets.
Dogs are drawn to certain types of programs, he said, and he has teamed up with the streaming service Sling TV to select some shows that make good viewing for the canine and human audience. The on-demand programs are available to Sling Orange or Sling Blue subscribers through Tuesday in connection with National Dog Day, which is Sunday.
The types of programs included on “Shows Your Dog Will Love Picked by Cesar Millan” fall into five categories: nature, dogs, sports, action and music. Among the offerings are “Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue,” “Barkfest,” “Jurassic World,” “X Games” and “BRITs Icon: Elton John.”
Dogs rely primarily on their senses of sight, sound and smell, Millan said in a phone interview. Television can stimulate two out of those three. So when a dog sees and hears an animal on TV, it may have a quizzical look because the expected scent of the animal is not there. But in the same way that dogs can look out the window of a home, the TV becomes a window to other parts of the world.
Millan said that he enjoyed watching sports with his five dogs and that they picked up on his energy. If he gets excited during a game, the dogs will also get excited. So it becomes a connection between him and his dogs as well as an entertainment for him.
While watching TV with dogs can be a good way to relax, Millan says to guard against becoming couch potatoes. “I always talk about the importance of the walk,” he said. It’s good for the dog physically and mentally to go for walks, even if there is a fenced yard for the dog.
Millan advocates “exercise, discipline, affection,” in that order, when working with dogs, and he said watching television is a good way to relax with your dog and show affection. But he says watching television shouldn’t come before the walk.
Animal behaviorist Corey Cohen, who works in northeast Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey, agrees with Millan and says he watches television with his three dogs.
One of his dogs, a mixed breed named Bodhi, is particularly captivated by TV, watching and listening closely.
Cohen makes a point of talking to his dogs while they’re viewing so it becomes a bonding experience. “If I’m watching a show, I’ll point things out and we’ll have a discussion about it,” he said. The TV shouldn’t be a “babysitter” for your dog, it should be “a connection experience.”
Some dogs may like TV more than others, Cohen said, noting that it’s important to keep the dog’s perspective in mind.
Peggy King, who shares her Las Vegas home with two dogs, said the interest in television is definitely an individual thing. Her Great Dane, Dexter, is completely uninterested in TV. But if a doorbell rings on TV, he runs to the door of her home.
On the other hand, she said, her whippet, Wepa, became captivated when the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” was showing on TV. Wepa is not a fan of televised sports, but she does respond to programs with dogs.