Release the hounds: DogTV -- touted as the first TV network aimed at man's best friend -- is a real 24-hour channel that will be unleashed on DirecTV starting Aug. 1.
For the first two weeks of August, DogTV will be available for free to any DirecTV subscriber. Pooch owners who register to subscribe before Aug. 10 will receive 30 days free through mid-September, after which the channel will be $4.99 per month. In addition, those signing up for the early-dog special will receive a PetHub dog ID tag and $10 coupon codes for PetBest.com and Dog Is Good.
Until now DogTV has been available only in San Diego, launched last year with Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable, as well as online and through Roku Internet set-tops for $9.99 per month.
What, exactly, is on the network? Forget human-oriented fare like "Old Yeller" or "Lassie": DogTV's programming comprises 3- to 6-minute video clips in three categories: relaxation, stimulation and "exposure," which center on segments designed to habituate dogs to domestic stimuli (like riding in a car with a toddler).
"The dog-approved programming content was created to entertain, relax and stimulate stay-at-home dogs, so owners don't come home to ripped-up couches, shredded magazines or a favorite pair of heels chewed to bits," the company says.
As part of promoting DogTV's launch on DirecTV, PTV is running a "MyDogTV" casting call to find dogs to be featured in a special "My Dog" program on the network. Users can upload videos via DogTV's page on Facebook or Instagram account before July 15.
According to DogTV, the network is recognized by the Humane Society of the United States and uses concepts supported by organizations including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
OK, but do dogs really watch TV -- or is this just a gimmick aimed at people who love their canine companions as if they were children? The network cites a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club and IAMS dog food that found nearly half of dogs owners said their pets showed "some interest" in what was happening on the TV screen.
To boost its cred, DogTV says it's worked with several experts to develop the pooch-specific programming, including Prof. Nicholas Dodman, director of the animal behavior department of clinical sciences at Tufts University, and Victoria Stilwell, star of Animal Planet's "It's Me or the Dog."
No word on when Nielsen will be able to track U.S. dog viewers.