Dogs As Movie Dates

Will a canine movie theater be a hit?
By Karen B. London PhD, December 2018

K9 Cinemas just opened in Plano, Texas so that people can take their best friend with them to the movies. Owner Erik Lankford wanted a place where people could enjoy a movie and be with their dogs. As someone who wants to spend time with his dog, Lankford felt that such an opportunity was lacking in his community.

There are guidelines designed to keep the theater safe and fun for humans and canines alike. Three rules are non-negotiable: 1) Clean up after your dog. 2) Bring proof that your dog’s vaccinations are current. 3) No more than two dogs per humans are allowed.

As dog lovers, it’s natural to applaud the opportunity to spend more time with them, and it’s easy to ask “What could possibly go wrong?” in a movie theater that welcomes dogs. Unfortunately, and at the risk of sounding like a grump, it’s also easy to answer that question.

My hesitation about this movie theater experience reflects concerns that dogs will not have a good time. Though the films should hold the attention of the people, the entertainment factor will not necessarily be there for the canine moviegoers. It’s not natural for dogs to sit still in a confined area in the dark while their guardians focus on the movie. Yes, I’m sure people will pet their dogs and be kind to them, but the activity is highly human-oriented. Dogs may be bored or restless, and some will probably be agitated or even afraid of any loud sounds from the film. Additionally, the presence of multiple dogs in the situation may lead to unpleasant social interactions, with barking being particularly likely. Skirmishes or fights are hardly out of the question.

The purpose of the theater, according the owner, is for people to be able to watch a movie and relax just as they can do at home. To me it makes sense to actually do so at home and for outings with dogs to focus on activities that they are more likely to enjoy than sitting in a movie theater.

What do you think about a movie theater where people can bring their dogs? Would you take your dog to one?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.

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