Bleu, a French bulldog who lives in San Diego, watches DogTV during the network's initial months online and on cable outlets in Southern California, in April
2012. (Gregory Bull/AP)
Forget the ball, stick and chew bone. Entertainment for dogs has gone digital.
On Aug. 1, DirecTV will launch the DogTV network, which has programming specifically produced for pups.
Fido can chill out in front of a TV screen that shows continuous three- to five-minute videos of "relaxing" content such as landscapes and "stimulating" content such as dogs running.
There will also be "exposure" programming that includes images and sounds of things dogs are commonly afraid of -- such as cars, fireworks or thunderstorms. By gradually increasing the volume on the exposure content, it will help pups to get accustomed to those noises, says DogTV co-founder Ron Levi.
The service will be free to DirecTV subscribers until Aug. 14. After that, there will be a $4.99 monthly charge.
"We've created the perfect dog sitter so that owners are guilt-free when they leave home and their dogs are relaxed," said Gilad Neumann, CEO of DogTV in a statement.
For on-the-go dogs, there is the newly introduced iCalmDog, which functions as a pooch-focused iPod, without ear buds.
iCalmDog plays pre-loaded, low-frequency classical music that is designed to calm a pet's anxiety. The small device, which has built-in speakers, sells at an introductory price of $71.95.
iCalmDog was launched in June by a company called Through a Dog's Ear, which sells music specifically designed for dogs. They sold out their entire initial stock, 120 devices, in one day.
iCalmDog is "designed to be mobile," so pet owners can bring it along to places such as dog groomers, dog sitters and veterinarian offices, says Through a Dog's Ear co-founder Lisa Spector.
These new high-tech devices join a market that already has CDs and DVDs that are intended to calm dogs, as well as laser light toys that keep pups stimulated.
Technology is one of the biggest areas of growth for the pet industry, says Kristen Levine, a pet expert and founder of pet-focused marketing firm Fetching Communications.
There's digital dog entertainment, pet GPS trackers, electronic fences and electronic dog doors. There is even a tracker that allows an owner to remotely monitor a pet's daily activity levels.
This past fall, the company Snaptracs launched a system that allows owners to access an interactive activity chart for pets that wear its Tagg tracker.
"It shows you during the day when (the dog) is active and resting," says Levine, who used the device when she was away at a conference to monitor her dog Chilly's activity.
The newest gadgets come at a time when pet owners are increasingly pampering their furry and feathered friends.
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SOURCE: USA Today
Laura Petrecca and Rebecca Castagna