A pet parent might ask, "Should I leave the radio or TV on for my dog when I'm not home?" Leaving a radio or TV on for your dog can help calm him down and can lower occurrences of separation anxiety. The sound of a TV or radio can also block outdoor noises at which a dog might bark, such as neighbors moving around, cars going by, or deliveries.
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Dog radio or TV?
The choice of dog radio or TV depends on the individual dog or dogs if you have multiples. Radio has no visual component, so the sound of voices and music may be more soothing and less apt to cause reactions. Conversely, if you leave the television on, the dog could react to various sounds included in the audio as well as images that might include dogs, cats, or other animals moving about. Some dogs even react to cartoon characters, the sound of bells on a game show, and a barking dog in the background of a movie scene.
Dog TV programs
Dog parents can purchase the TV network specifically made for dogs through most cable providers. The service might be included in certain packages. The programming is designed to calm the dog with soothing music and videos. Some dogs don't look at video, but a lot of them do. Dogs that do "watch" TV can be calmed by seeing the images of other dogs on screen, while others might react and bark.
There are some dog TV shows on Netflix as well. Before you use any of these as a solution for accompanying your dog in your absence, be sure to do a trial run. If you don't already subscribe to these channels or networks, get a seven-day trial package, which is usually available through most services. Observe your dog for a weekend to see how she reacts to what's on the screen. If yours is a reactive dog, then a doggie TV network is probably not a good choice.
Treating separation anxiety
Using radio or TV for your dog may do the trick as far as treating separation anxiety goes. Voices talking quietly or calm songs on the radio may be enough to help a dog believe that people are with him or cause enough of a distraction that he will not be bored. However, if a dog has severe separation anxiety, this might have the opposite effect.
A dog can be trained to connect the sound of the radio or TV as a cue that it's a safe time to relax and have some quiet time. Dogs are pack animals, and they dislike being separated from pack members, including humans. Unless they've been trained to connect the sounds of the TV or radio to safety, it's probably not helpful to use these devices to treat separation anxiety.
There are lots of other great ways to help treat separation anxiety, including exercise, brain games, having a predictable routine, and starting with brief absences to teach the dog that you always come back.
Calm and quiet
If you do turn to the TV or radio to help your dog acclimate to being apart from you for any length of time, be sure to choose calm programming. Playing anything with loud noises, fireworks, explosions, loud music, or especially barking dogs or ringing doorbells is simply not a good choice. There are some great CDs for dogs that you can play on repeat. Alternatively, you can use an online music service or have your home virtual assistant queue up some tunes for your pooch.