Do dogs like watching dogs on TV?

Mallory Benedict, our very own photo editor, asks us the first Weird Animal Question of the Week of 2015: Why does her sister’s poodle watch television with such rapt attention?

When any kind of animal appears on television, he completely loses it. Benedict questioned, “How does he recognize animals on TV, and why does he have such a strong reaction?

Domestic dogs are intelligent enough to recognize animals onscreen as they would in real life, even those they have never seen before, and to recognize TV dog sounds like barking. They can perceive television images similarly to how we do.

Using only their visual sense, dogs were able to distinguish images of humans and other animals from those of other dogs, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Animal Cognition. (See also “Is Your Dog OCD? OCD Dogs and People Have Similar Brains.”)

But there are some distinctions between us and man’s best friend. For instance, a dog’s eyes register information more quickly than ours do. Accordingly, Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University in Massachusetts, older television sets would appear to a dog to be flickering like a “1920s movie” because they display fewer frames per second than modern televisions.

Dogs’ dichromatic vision allows them to distinguish between a spectrum of two primary colors: yellow and blue. According to the Ask a Scientist website at Binghamton University, because human vision is trichromatic, we can see the full spectrum of colors.

According to Dodman, the channel’s chief scientist, DogTV, an HDTV cable channel made specifically for dogs, appeals to them because HDTV has a lot more frames per second and is specially colored to accommodate canines’ dichromatic vision. (See National Geographics best dog pictures. ).

DogTV features three different modes: relaxation, which features scenes of dogs relaxing in a grassy field, stimulation, which features scenes of dogs surfing in Southern California, and exposure, which features scenes of a dog responding to a doorbell and following commands to help accustom them to similar circumstances at home.

Beyond biology, a dog’s response to television may depend on their personality or breed, whether they run around, bark enthusiastically, or just ignore it.

“Different dogs, like people, have different personalities,” Dodman said. Some are pushy, some are shy; some are territorial, some are not; some like people, some don’t; some are predatory, some don’t;

TV-watching dogs frequently become excited when they hear a barking dog on the set. (Watch the German shepherd in this YouTube video barking only when another dog appears on the TV and completely ignoring those boring humans. ).

Some dogs run behind the television in search of the animals they see on the screen as well as barking at them.

Others “have been desensitized to television. They might assume, “Those guys just hang out on the television” when they see a dog on television. They never actually walk around,” Dodman said. (Take National Geographics dog quiz. ).

A dog’s responses to television may differ depending on its breed. Herding breeds like terriers may be more stimulated by moving objects they see on a small screen than hounds, which are motivated by smell and are less interested in visuals.

Many people leave a radio or television on when they leave the house to keep their dogs company in the hopes that the sound will be more soothing to them than silence, according to Dodman.

Even though news programs might be preferred, dogs frequently only half-watch television, just like many humans.

They focus on topics that interest them, give it a few moments of their attention before saying, “Hmm, interesting,” and then turn away, according to Dodman. Nevertheless, “that’s preferable to spinning your wheels all day while your owners are away,” “.

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Why Do Some Dogs Watch TV and Others Don’t?

Like people, dogs will enjoy television in different ways. Some breeds (and individual dogs) may be better able to see what is happening on TV than others due to differences in sight capacity.

A dog may be more engaged if they can see and recognize a dog chasing something on a screen than if they must rely more on their sense of smell or hearing. And some dogs might be more easily “duped” by what they see on the screen, whereas others might be a little more perceptive and realize what they see is not real.

Beyond color, different breeds of dogs have varying visual acuity. The canine eye’s visual streak is where vision is sharpest. But the size and number of receptors vary depending on the breed and individual dog. How dogs perceive the world is greatly influenced by the differences in this eye structure. Related article.

Today’s high-resolution images and crystal-clear audio on modern televisions (and phones) give our dogs a clear view into another world. Dogs can view fluid motion on modern HD/4K TVs because they refresh at a much higher rate. A dog’s television viewing can be significantly impacted by sounds as well. As most pet owners can probably guess, research has shown that puppies pay more attention to videos that feature barking, whining, and positive feedback.

DOGTV was introduced in 2012 to meet these specific TV-watching requirements. The 24-hour channel is made specifically for puppies who stay at home because it has a higher frame rate and displays colors that are better for a dog’s eyes. The network was “scientifically developed to provide the right company for dogs when left alone,” claims DOGTV. Years of research led to the development of content that is specifically tailored to a dog’s senses of vision and hearing and supports their innate behavioral patterns. The outcome is a self-assured, content dog who is less likely to experience stress, separation anxiety, or other related issues. ”.

Science still doesn’t have an answer to the question of whether dogs enjoy watching television, despite the fact that we know they can see, hear, and interpret what is on the TV.

Even with a specially made channel, dogs tend to watch tv for only short bursts of time, usually just glancing at the TV. But some dogs are more reactive to TV than others. Herding breeds, for example, often watch television with more intensity because of their attraction to moving objects. Veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University, Nicholas Dodman, was the lead scientist on the DOGTV project. In an interview with National Geographic, Dodman explained why some dogs react to television and others don’t. “Different dogs, like people, have different personalities,” Dodman said. “Beyond biology, how dogs react to TV—whether it’s running around, barking excitedly, or just ignoring it—may come down to personality or breed.”

TV is good company, but it’s not a dog sitter

When pet owners leave the house, they frequently leave the TV or radio on to keep their dogs company. That’s completely fine, Millan says, in moderation. Advertisement.

When it comes to using TV time as a reward for chores or completing homework, pet parents should consider how they would with human children. In the case of a dog, it might be a soothing treat after returning from a pleasant long walk. Before putting your pet in front of the TV, Millan advises getting in a solid hour of nonstop exercise.

That might also serve to keep your dog from becoming overly enthused by the action on the screen. Bear in mind that dogs cannot distinguish between on-screen action and real-world situations. According to Millan, while filming episodes of his reality TV programs where he assists in the rehabilitation of dogs, he had to prevent dogs from attacking the TV. “You find out what excites the dog, but not too much,” advises Millan.

Therefore, it’s probably best not to leave Caddyshack on the tube while you’re out of the house if your dog, like a goofy-eared pit bull I know, is transfixed by gophers. However, a Sesame Street or Planet Earth episode might be just what you need.


Do dogs understand dogs on TV?

Domestic dogs are intelligent enough to recognize on-screen images of animals as they would in real life—even animals they have never seen before—and to recognize TV dog sounds, like barking. They can perceive images on television in a similar way to how we do.

Do dogs watch other dogs on TV?

Even though dogs have their own TV channel and have demonstrated a preference for watching other dogs through brief interactions with specially colored programs, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

Is it good for dogs to watch TV?

Likely, no. The same is true for your dog: while watching television can pass the time, it does not substitute for the animal’s need for exercise, engagement, and stimulation.

What do dogs think when they see TV?

Dogs process screens and televisions differently from humans, but it turns out that they frequently understand what they are hearing and seeing. While some dogs aren’t interested in watching TV, other pet parents report that their dogs are fascinated by screens.