Should I Leave the TV on For My Dog?

Dog watching TV on couch

As much as we want to be with our dogs all the time, there are times when we have to leave them home alone.

Leaving the TV on is what most people do to make their dogs more comfortable when they are home alone. But does it really work? Let’s find out.

Is It a Good Idea to Leave the TV on for Your Dog?

Well, there is no straight answer to this question. It all depends on your dog and his temperament.

Some dogs do well with the TV playing in the background while it is a source of anxiety for other dogs. You need to observe your dog to see what suits him to answer this question.

Set up a camera when you leave them alone and see how they respond to having the TV on vs how they respond when it is off.

The amount of damage your house sustains either way is also a way of seeing which one your dog prefers, but you might not like how much it costs you.

Pros

There are some pros to leaving the TV on for your dog, assuming that they are not averse to the sound of the TV playing.

It will drown out other sources of anxiety like thunder, traffic, fireworks construction, etc. If your dog is only focusing on the TV, he won’t notice the other anxiety-causing sounds.

It is important to note that leaving the TV on is not a substitute for anxiety medication. If your dog needs medication or any other tools to stay calm, turning on the TV will not replace them.

The noise of the TV might make it seem like the house is occupied, which will deter thieves.

Cons

One of the biggest disadvantages is that it might be stress-inducing for dogs that like silence when they are home alone.

Also, dog ears are far more sensitive than humans. If the TV is blasting all day, it might damage their hearing. On the other hand, if the volume is too low it might not cover up the sounds of other distractions.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

Using the TV to Reassure Your Dog

People usually think that leaving the TV on will make the dog feel less alone and will drown out other causes of anxiety. While this is true, it would be far more effective to use the TV like a safety cue for your dog.

Think of how your dog reacts to the sound of your footsteps when you’re coming home or the sound of you opening the door. These sounds are safety cues in their mind because they associate the sound with something good happening.

In the same way, if the sound of the TV or the sound of turning the TV on is registered as a safety cure, it will help them feel safe and calm them down.

You can start by giving your dog a treat whenever you turn on the TV. If your dog is more motivated by praise, praise them whenever the TV is turned on.

With time, they will start seeing the TV as a positive element and will get excited whenever it is turned on.

This will make it much easier for you to leave home for work and your dog will continue to feel safe at home even when you are not there.

How to Make Your Dog Feel Safe with the TV

If you’ve already trained your dog to respond positively to the TV, the only thing left to do is to pick the right programming for him to watch.

It matters what you put on for them, not because they are picky but because some content is a lot more calming than others.

Some channels like DogTV are specifically meant to soothe and calm down dogs. The content is scientifically backed and is much better than any random channel like HBO.

There are also several YouTube and Spotify playlists for dogs. You can choose one that you find soothing for your dog.

If you plan on leaving the TV on, find a channel that mostly has talk shows or programs, like C-SPAN and PBS. Avoid any channels where there might be loud noises.

Whatever you choose, make sure to give it a trial run first.

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets?

Using the TV for Separation Anxiety

If your dog has mild separation anxiety, using the TV as a positive cue when you leave them alone can be very beneficial.

The sound of people talking on the TV can make your dog feel like there are people in the house. In any case, it can distract him from other scary or stressful noises.

It is not recommended for dogs with severe separation anxiety, as it can make it a lot worse. In any case, remember that it is not a replacement for you being home.

Dogs will always prefer to have their owner next to them at home. Leaving the TV on for them is just to help them relax when you aren’t there, not to make up for your absence.

There are many other ways of treating separation anxiety like games, exercises and training. Use the TV in addition to these methods.

TV vs Dog Radio

There isn’t much to compare between TV and dog radio. It all comes down to what your dog likes or prefers.

Radio doesn’t have a visual, which can be more calming to some dogs. With TV, dogs often react to the images of other cats and dogs, cartoons, etc.

Playing the radio negates these possibilities. However, one isn’t better than the other, you just need to figure out what your dog prefers between the two.

Also Read: Why Is My Dog Acting Weird All of a Sudden?

Parting Thoughts

Leaving the TV on for your dog when you leave can be soothing and calming, but only if you have trained him to see it as a safety cue.

It also very much depends on your dog’s individual preferences, so make sure you test different situations before you start using this method every day.