We spend hours playing with them, cuddling with them, and figuring out how to safely travel with them, but when it comes down to how much we really understand our dogs, we’re pretty much in the dark. If you’re intrigued by dog psychology or just wonder what makes your pup do what she does, consider one of these illuminating programs.
Nova: Dogs Decoded
Somehow this public television mainstay does a consistently good job of documenting life’s mysteries without bringing on a snooze attack. Nova has done it again with Dogs Decoded, as this hourlong program explores the emotional intelligence of our canine friends and their evolution from wild animals to complex and invaluable human companions.
Recommended for: Figuring out how your dog knows when you’re happy/sad/in need of a friend.
Through a Dog’s Eyes
Narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, this film follows the lives of a few people with disabilities who have been matched with service dogs from a group called Canine Assistants. The process of training the life-changing dogs as well as the impact they have on their recipients make for a compelling and educational viewing experience.
Recommended for: When you’re in the mood for a tearjerker.
Nature: Dogs that Changed the World
This two-part documentary goes into great depth in exploring the story of how dogs have genetically evolved over the last 15,000 years (that’s when it’s believed they first began to be domesticated). From their early days as hungry scavengers to the many diverse and cuddly breeds that can be found today, dogs have earned the fascination and devotion they’ve inspired.
Recommended for: Understanding why your Chihuahua won’t play fetch.
In the Womb: Cats and Dogs
Find out about the development of dogs (and cats, too) on a micro-level with a little help from National Geographic. Ultrasound images and computer graphics help tell the story of how our pets begin their lives and develop into the unique bundles of cute that they’ll eventually be.
Recommended for: Getting to know dogs up close and personal.
Nova: Dogs and More Dogs
This last one is based on a book called The Truth About Dogs, whose author labels them “social parasites” (in a lovable way) and discusses how and why this species has flourished in our society.
Recommended for: Calling dogs out on their lovably conniving ways.
One of the reasons pet travel can be complicated is that we aren’t exactly on the same wavelength as our animal companions, but the more we try to understand them the better we can take care of them. Enjoy!