David Haworth, DVM PhD, a new board member at DOGTV says, “I knew DOGTV and had been aware of it and intrigued by it, before I joined the board.”
David’s career path, as he describes it, has been eclectic. “The one area that has been a central point, though and one in which I have spent a lot of time is researching the human animal bond,” he shares. “When it comes to the human-animal bond, we look at how we can empower pet owners to be the best pet owners they can be.”
He said, “DOGTV does that because of the way in which it enriches the space the dogs spend their time.”
Why don’t more veterinarians talk about canine enrichment more often with the pet parents?
It’s not that your vet doesn’t think about it or know about it, but those of us in the animal health industry don’t have time to delve into the particular environment the dog lives in — unless there is a health issue,” he shares. “Many vets talk with the pet owner about the need for physical and mental enrichment and pet owners need to find a way to fit that into their everyday lives.”
He said it’s “great for a dog trainer to tell a dog owner their dog needs to have, say, three hours of enrichment and physical activity. It’s just not always possible.” For himself he says, “I love my dog. I am a vet. If I give him thirty minutes of all out exercise and feed him healthy meals I count that as a good day.”
How can we show pet parents how to give the dogs they love the care they need?
It’s perception, David says. “Some pet owners will ask themselves, ‘Am I doing all I can for this beloved family member’”?
That’s where entertainment technology like DOGTV comes in, he feels. “DOGTV gives the dog and the pet owner a way to share an ecosystem that is enriched for their dogs. We should make something like this — environmental enrichment — available for every pet.”
David says dogs are better off if there is enrichment available for them in the house — DOGTV, food puzzle toys, etc. “It’s not that you’re doing something wrong or someone is doing something better for their dog if they provide entertainment technology like DOGTV or other forms of canine enrichment like puzzle toys or activity. Doing something is better than doing nothing,” he says. “That’s the bottom line.”
What level does canine enrichment need to be?
The degree to which you enrich your dog’s environment is highly personal. “If I enrich my dog’s environment does that mean he won’t chew my shoes? If I do enrich his environment does that mean he won’t chew my shoes or will only chew one instead of two?” It’s hard to say.
Humans, he says, don’t think well about a spectrum of responses. For example, if I tell someone they will have an 80% chance of getting in an accident if they leave the house, you are also telling someone they have a one in five chance of being fine. The spectrum under which you fall is based on the vagaries of your own personal mind.
Do dogs like DOGTV?
David says, “Anecdotally, we believe the dogs really love the programming that DOGTV provides. They are drawn to the sights, the sounds, the lights and the movement on the screen. Other dogs may not notice it, but they are in an enriched state simply because the programming is on the background. The sound from the DOGTV programming could be blocking negative stimuli and that helps them relax and not feel anxious about being at home alone.”
Can you give us your definition of the human-animal bond?
What the human-animal bond, the way David shares, is “the emotional and psychological bond we have with the animals who share our lives. Fundamentally, it’s about humans’ need for companionship and in particular, nonjudgmental companionship that our dogs give us.” He says humans and dogs have co-evolved to give one other positive feelings simply by being together.
Dogs don’t fake their feelings, David says. “With our animals, it’s not my intuition or training that tells me about the human-animal bond, it’s the heart. It’s the positive interactions we have with our dogs. We feel better for having been around them and for the time we put into taking care of them.”
The role of dogs in our lives may seem huge, but David says, “One of the most dog-friendly cities I think I have ever been to is Tel Aviv. It is a great place for dogs.”
Dog-friendly lifestyles are more prevalent and when society moved away from being so agriculturally-focused many people have become wealthier and we are more willing to spend money to care for those things in our lives we love — family and our pets.
“It’s been in the last thirty years that we have come to treat our dogs as family members and less like pets,” he says.
Three reasons, he says that dogs have moved into being treated more like family advance in:
- Vaccinations, like rabies
- Inexpensive and effective tick and flea control products
- Easily packaged, purchased and digestible pet foods
“Imagine a rabid, flea-infested dog coming into your house — no one wanted that and until advancements in technology were made, dogs slept in the barns — not in our beds,” he says.
When it comes to food, as a veterinarian David says his Golden Retriever eats two times a day and gets fresh veggies, too. “He poops two times a day and can control it because of the timing of his meals. He can be left home alone (with DOGTV on!) and won’t make messes in the house.”
David says, “Sharing your life with may bring some inconveniences, but the positive aspects far outweigh any negative aspects of sharing your life with a dog. Dogs make us feel great. We love to open our phones and show photos of our dogs! I do the same.”
As far as enriching his dog’s life, he says. “If I can’t take my dog with me I leave him in an enriched environment and turn on DOGTV for him. I don’t want him to feel he is home alone and when DOGTV is on, he isn’t.”
How can a pet parent enrich his or her dog’s life?
Enrich his environment. Look into behavior therapy if you have a dog who is anxious and for whom puzzle toys or other distraction items don’t help. Use an entertainment technology like DOGTV to enrich your dog’s environment and to not leave him home alone. Playing with your dog, spending time in a park, playing fetch, going for a walk, spending quiet time together — all of these items will enrich your dog’s life.
Bottom line, David says, “Our dogs want to be with us and they look to us to help them live happy, healthy lives.” He adds, “I am so happy to be a part of DOGTV. It’s a great group of people who are dedicated to dogs and to canine enrichment. Beke (Lubeach, general manager) and Gilad (Neumann, CEO) have are clearly doing great things for dogs.”
Find out more about David Haworth.
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