A Dog Owner's Guide to Watching Movies

Ripley_Zuzu

Zuzu and Ripley. My two dogs.

About 3 years ago my wife and I (Sam Jones aka Flash Gordon) bought our first dog Ripley. She’s a Chocolate Lab with tons of energy. Naturally, Ripley needed a friend so we recently bought an 8 week old Yellow Lab named Zuzu to join the group. With Zuzu came the idea for this post.

We love movies. We love short movies. We love long movies. We love movie marathons. We even named our dogs after movie characters (see if you can guess the movie and character in the comments section). There were many things in our movie life we didn’t expect to change simply by purchasing a dog (or two). That’s why i wanted to share my wisdom with people to help navigate them through this journey as smoothly as possible.

Before I get into the meat, it’s important you have the right tools for the job. Here’s a list of items to have on hand in your home theater:

  1. Toys
  2. Everlasting Gobstopper
  3. Dog bed or blanket
  4. Post Workout Pooch
  5. Patience

Before the Movie Starts:

1. Exhaust your dog

Run em, play with em, exercise em. Be a responsible dog owner and take care of your dog. This pays off big time when you decide you want to kick back to watch a movie. Don’t be naive and think that if you’re dog has done nothing but chew on a toy all day that they’ll now want to stare at you while you stare at a noisy box with flashing colors. A Post workout pooch is much easier to set up for self-entertainment than one that is bursting with energy (e.g. Common Sense).

2. Set up the Thunder Dome

Place toys on the floor ranging from squeakers, rope and shredders. Now that you’re dogs run off some energy, time to set up their play area (aka The Thunder Dome). Cover all your bases here as you don’t know what those demons, I mean dogs, will prefer at the time. In addition, place a blanket or dog bed in the same area. This allows them to be nearby for resting after they’ve competed in the Thunder Dome. It also gives them space to enjoy the next item.

3. Everlasting Gobstopper

Finally, give the dog a bone, antler, bully stick or other long term delight. This is the Everlasting Gobstopper technique. If you’re dogs been good, it’s time to reward them. This is the ultimate technique to ensure not only a fun movie for you, but your dog as well. Before you know it, they’ll be salivating the minute the disc tray pops open on that Blu Ray player.

During the Movie:

4. Time is an Illusion

Hour and a half movies will take you two hours.. or longer. You may have just popped in It Comes at Night and are ready for a nice hour and half long movie. That’s nice, but your puppies bladder doesn’t give a shit. You’ll be pausing that movie so frequently that by the end you’ll think you just watched The Godfather (Parts I & II). Listen, all puppies are two things: cute and a constant waste disposal. Unless you want your home theatre to truly smell like death during a horror movie, pause the movie every 30 minutes or less and take the dog out. It’s less time than waiting for an accident that forces you to take them out AND clean it up.

5. Keep your head on a swivel

Puppies move quick and pee quicker. Keep an eye out at all times. Set up barriers to limit their movement. Regardless, you’re going to have to share your attention between the movie and puppy. Zuzu is always in the corner of our eyes. Ripley on the other hand is trained, so taking her out just before the movie usually prevents any worries during it. Older they get the easier this becomes.

6. Reactions aren’t just for humans

Dogs pay attention. Dog barks in the movie? Zuzu and Ripley stop what they’re doing and stare, and then join the barking. Dog whines in the movie? Zuzu and Ripley will look concerned and expect me to do something about it. It’s not only dogs, loud sounds too. Ripley will leave the room if the movie gets to intense. Zuzu? Not quite yet, BUT if either one is sleeping keep in mind loud sounds wake them up too. Be smart, turn it down and take advantage of that napping.

After the Movie:

7. Start Over

You’re movie break was their resting period as well. Be prepared to get active with them again and start the cycle over, but this time you can be strategic and tweak things to meet your dogs need better. One thing we learned was that Ripley loves Star Wars, Alien, and Marley & Me (for obvious reasons). Knowing this we watched Marley & Me with Zuzu our first night we had her. So instead of getting annoyed that you can’t watch movies like you once did, embrace the chaos and adapt to it. Eventually, they’ll be old enough to not care, but in the mean time why not make the best of it.

Does your dog like specific movies or any experiences to add? Comment below to join the discussion.

- AJ