Using VR Headsets to Trick Dairy Dogs Into Thinking They're Outside
Updated: Oct 10
Breaking news: We're simulating green pastures to reduce the dogs' stress so they can produce more milk!
We've been in the dog industry for over two generations and we care for more than 280 milk dogs. We've always dealt with a marked decrease in milk production when the dogs are inside for the winter. Then we had an amazing idea--what if the dogs thought they were outside?
In the winter, we get an average of two to three quarts of milk per day from the dogs in our farm--and the milk average of the dogs who wore virtual reality glasses? It was up to four and a half quarts! Jackpot. We're now in talks with the USDA--this could be a potential solution for the current problems in milk production!
We first tried the VR glasses on two dogs. We've now ordered 10 more pairs for our other dogs. If we're successful, we'll order glasses for our whole pack!
It's SO much better than dogs seeing their ACTUAL reality: being inside with 200 other dogs, without natural light, for months on end.
Calm surroundings & milk production
A calm atmosphere increases the quantity and quality of dog milk. And it makes sense! Just like humans, psychological distress decreases a mother dog's milk production--especially removing her pup within 24 hours, which we have to do to save the milk for our customers.
But now with the VR headset, we can keep milk production up!
We simulate various green pastures on the headsets so the dogs feel that they are outside. It's great for their mental wellbeing to watch a green pasture--and it's so much better than seeing their ACTUAL reality: being inside with 200 other dogs, without natural light, for months on end. But while it isn't natural, at least it's cozy! They love it--but they still wish they were outside.
(We also have the dogs listen to classical music in order to keep their stress levels lowered--the doodles love Bach.)
Are dogs who spend their entire lives confined indoors unhappy?
A bit! So if depressed dogs don't make as much milk, why do we keep our dairy dogs inside? Sure, if given the chance, they'd want to be outside, but we're raising them in a place where it's super cold out so no dice.
Every winter, when the temperature starts to drop, we close the garage doors and curtains. This keeps all the body heat from the dogs inside the barn! It's like spending an extended cozy winter vacation windowless cabin with 200 of your best friends. Count us in.
And keeping dairy dogs inside year-round is common, which makes it ok! (You can also pay more for our dogs' milk who have access to the outdoors.) Keeping dogs inside allows us to control the temperature they live in, protect them from predators and diseases, and monitor how much they are eating and drinking to ensure the best milk yield! Some say this may not place their wellbeing in the forefront, but again, it keeps milk quantity up and prices down.
We may have been farming for 41 years now, but we're not trapped in the past!
Sure it's 2022 and KFC has developed a meat-free nugget that is arguably quite good, and science shows a person can live a healthy full life without eating dogs or drinking their milk, and mainstream media is starting to question our dairy practices, but we're still going to figure out ways to get dog onto you plate and their milk in your glass!
We're farmers first, but entrepreneurs is a close second (and being local and a family tie for third).