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Image: DogTV
DogTV
On DogTV, dogs are able to watch three to five minute programs, which aim to keep them relaxed and stimulated while their owners are out of the house.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 2/16/2012 12:18:33 PM ET 2012-02-16T17:18:33

A TV channel just for dogs: it may sound at first like a “Saturday Night Live” parody. But DogTV, a cable network expressly for man’s best friend, launched this week in San Diego.

“A lot of people laugh and think it’s funny or a gimmick,” said co-founder and chief content officer Ron Levi. “But then we explain the research and the science behind it. This is a great opportunity to makes dogs happier and their lives more pleasant while they are home alone during the day.”

Levi, himself a cat owner, came up with the idea after watching his pet’s dejected behavior as he got ready for work. He decided to use the television to entertain her while he was out and realized that the concept could apply to other pets as well.

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After pitching the idea to the Jasmine Group, an Israeli media and production company, Levi refined it to apply to canines and spent the next three and a half years researching specialized content. Originally, programs included scenes and audio that humans thought would appeal to dogs, like barking, but test group dogs got irritated. The shows now avoid loud noises that frequently scare dogs, and keep well away from showing their traditional nemesis, cats.

DogTV has created nearly 800 programs for dogs, each around three to five minutes long to fit with a dogs’ limited attention span, and is constantly creating new content. The programs are designed to “relax, stimulate and expose” dogs to situations they come across in daily life, like car rides and romps around the park.

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Other programs include animations of moving objects, nature scenes set to soothing music, and dogs sleeping or resting.

While San Diego dogs are the only lucky viewers at the moment, thanks to carriers Cox and Time Warner, DogTV is in talks with other broadcasters in the U.S. and hopes to expand into other markets in the coming months.

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For the next few weeks the station will be offered free to all cable subscribers, but will eventually carry a $5 monthly fee.

“We can’t exactly sell ad space,” said Ron, laughing.

With 78.2 million dogs in the U.S., according to the American Pet Products Association, that’s a lot of potential subscribers.

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DogTV has also teamed up with a professor of veterinary medicine and behavior at Tufts University to further research how dogs react and respond to DogTV.

But will it work? Well, it certainly can't hurt say the experts.

Slideshow: Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (on this page)

“DogTV seems a fun concept and it may help your pet make it through the day,” said dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan, star of the reality show “Dog Whisperer,” and publisher of Cesar's Way magazine, told TODAY.com. “But what they see is much less important to dogs than what they smell. Dogs are pack animals and to be separated from their pack leader is one of the most stressful things that can happen to them.

"Don’t make a big production of leaving because it will raise their excitement level. Make sure they have their favorite toys – particularly ones that engage them. And if your dog is calm, let him kick back and watch all the TV he likes.”

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Photos: 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

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  1. Co-owner and handler David Fitzpatrick holds Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday, Feb. 14 in New York. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Great Dane, Lobato's JitterBug Man is led for judging during the dog show. About 2,500 dogs competed in the annual event. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Doberman Pinscher Grand Champion Protocal's Veni Vidi Vici, right, wins the Working Group on Feb. 14. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. The judge examines the teeth of Ivywild's Lookin' To Skeldale, a Welsh Springer Spaniel, during the Sporting Group competition on Tuesday night. (Ray Stubblebine / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Adam Bernardin reacts as Shadagee Caught Red Handed, an Irish setter, is declared the Best of Sporting Group, Feb. 14. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Ania Gabrielle Kelly smiles with her dog Winfree's Do You Believe in Magic after winning Best Junior on Tuesday. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Handler Tim Terella of Fairview, Pa., runs in the ring with Winnie, a Siberian husky on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Winnie received an award of merit in the competition. (Craig Ruttle / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Derek, a Standard Poodle, sits while she is being groomed backstage on Feb. 13. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Michelle Paulin and Storm,a Dogue de Bordeaux, wait in the judging ring Feb. 14. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A young girl watches judging during judging Feb. 14. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A Komondorok competes in the judging ring on Feb. 14. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Dogs and their significant others wait backstage on Feb. 14. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mellisa Foehkolb and Roy, a German wirehaired pointer, wait to go in the judging ring Feb. 14. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Champion Sandale-Paj Captain Barbosa, a Great Dane, rests at the show Feb. 14. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Debbie Parsons, left, and Brad Slayton kiss their dog, a Tibetan mastiff named Major, after they were married at the dog show. Best man Tony Carter looks on at right. Carter is Major's handler, and Major won best in breed Feb. 14. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Moses, a Dogue de Bordeaux, furrows his brow backstage at the show Feb. 14. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Mastiffs compete in the best in breed category on Feb. 14. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A handler holds down the tail of a Portuguese water dog in the judging ring on Feb. 14. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A golden retriever stands during the "Best in Breed" category on Feb. 14. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Fifi, a doberman pinscher, is joined in her cage by co owner Suzy Lundy of Oregonia, Ohio in the backstage area on Feb. 14. (Craig Ruttle / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A golden retriever and handler in the judging ring on Feb. 14. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. CJ, a Newfoundland, sits in the backstage area on Feb. 14. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Handler Cheri Koppenhaver, right, reacts after judge Patricia Laurans, left, declared Cinders, a Wirehaired Dachshund, the winner of the hound group on Monday, Feb. 13. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A toy Manchester terrier named Cottage Lake's Bela Horizonte is positioned during the judging of the toy group on Feb. 13. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Martha Stewart sits with her dog Genghis Khan II, a chow chow, before competing on Feb. 13. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Juniors leave Ring 6 after competing in the Junior Showmanship Preliminaries on Feb. 13. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Ibizan hounds are shown the ring on Feb. 13. (Craig Ruttle / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Sophie, a standard poodle, is groomed before her showing on Feb. 13. (Craig Ruttle / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. A French bulldog is seen inside its cage on Feb.13. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. De Angelo, left, Allan Waterman, center, and Allie Cowie prepare Tiny, a standard poodle, for judging on Feb. 13. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Tahoe, an Old English sheepdog, stands in the grooming area before his competition on Feb. 13. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. A handler shows a Bouviers Des Flandres on Feb. 13. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A cavalier King Charles spaniel is groomed in the staging area on Feb. 13. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. A Briard gets groomed in the staging area on Feb. 13. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Beagles Dutch and Daltry play in the benching and grooming area on Feb. 13. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Handler Dixie Rae shows Cardigan Welsh Corgi Myste Baledwr Free to Disagree on Feb. 13. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Clara, a Chinese crested, waits in the staging area on Feb. 13. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A handler shows a Rhodesian ridgeback on Feb. 13. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Stewart, a Yorkshire terrier, rests in his room at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel on Sunday, Feb. 12. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Major, a Tibetan mastiff, waits to check in at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel on Feb. 12. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. A Chihuahua waits to get into its room on Feb. 12. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Moses, a Dogue de Bordeaux, arrives at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Feb. 12. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A toy poodle uses the indoor bathroom area at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Feb. 12. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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