Can Your Dog See What’s Happening On the TV?
Does your dog seem to watch TV whenever you flip it on? Do they ever jump up, bark, or run at the TV when they see another dog, a cat, a squirrel, or just something that excites them? Does your dog seem to have shows that calm them down or rile them up?
No, it’s not just a coincidence. Your dog is watching TV!
Dog lovers have engaged in some debate over whether dogs can actually see, enjoy, or engage with TV and media on screens. However, if your dog is one of the ones who watches TV, you’ll know it’s pretty obvious that they’re not only seeing it but at some level also understanding what they see.
Let’s take a closer look at the world of dogs who watch TV, dispel some myths about canine eyesight, and explore media made specifically for dogs to enjoy with or without their humans!
What Do Dogs See When They Look at a Screen?
You might have heard that dogs can’t see TV screens because of frame rate—there’s a little bit of truth to this theory, but it doesn’t change the fact that dogs can see and watch TV.
Dogs have a much keener ability to detect movement than humans. Because of this, TV shows or videos shown at a lower frame rate may appear to flicker to dogs. While the flickering could make the image less interesting to dogs, it wouldn’t make it impossible for them to watch TV. More recently manufactured TVs, like digital and flat screen, have a much higher frame rate, and are able to refresh quickly enough that dogs likely won’t see much flickering.
When your dog watches TV, they’re probably seeing an image similar to the one you’re seeing, with a few key differences.
Dogs see a limited range of colors including yellow, blue, and gray tones. While they can detect small changes in movement more readily than humans, their dichromatic vision makes the world slightly less vibrant and sharp. If you were to watch TV through a dog’s eyes, you would probably think everything had lost saturation, and that your vision was just slightly blurry.
With all of this in mind, dogs absolutely can and do watch TV—and some dogs even find it soothing.
Why Do Some Dogs Watch TV While Others Don’t?
If your dog isn’t responding to your TV, it’s not because they’re less intelligent, unable to see, or exhibiting anything out of the ordinary. The reason some dogs watch TV while others don’t is simple: some just aren’t interested!
Whether or not your dog will engage with the TV will depend on a wide range of factors including nature, nurture, and opportunity. Some dogs are particularly alert or visual, and are more inclined to react to visual stimuli. Some dog breeds have particularly high prey drives, guarding instincts, etc., and find watching the TV exciting. In some cases, dogs might not watch TV because they simply have never had the opportunity before, and don’t quite know what to do when given the chance to try.
Remember, even if your dog isn’t watching the TV, they could still enjoy the noise. Many dogs—especially those that have grown up in homes where the TV is regularly on—find the noise of the TV comforting.
Do Dogs Enjoy Watching TV?
Some dogs really enjoy watching TV, while others don’t care at all whether it’s on or off. Others still are indifferent to TV until their favorite programs or types of images come on, and some might even react negatively when you turn on your favorite shows.
In a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club and IAMS dog food, nearly half of those surveyed had dogs that showed some interest in what was happening on the television screen.
Whether or not your dog will like watching TV will depend entirely on their unique personality. Take note of how your dog reacts when you sit down and turn on the tube. Do they settle in next to you for a long nap? Do they sit up and stare at the screen? Do they hide or leave the room? Over time and by observing your pup’s reactions each time you watch TV, you’ll learn just how they feel about it.
In some cases, TV can actually help dogs cope with boredom, anxiety, or stress. Dogs who enjoy having the TV on get mental stimulation from the sounds and images. While keeping your anxious dog stimulated might sound like a bad thing, many dogs find the interaction with the TV comforting, which can help to keep them occupied, relaxed, and out of trouble.
Dog-Friendly TV Options
Dogs can—and do—watch TV and movies made for humans, but did you know that there is media made specifically for dogs? Leaving something on for your canine bestie is such a popular solution to boredom and separation anxiety that there’s even an entire cable network dedicated to it!
DOGTV is a super unique streaming service that features shows for pet parents and their pets! DOGTV literally has hundreds of programs with endless hours of content to leave on for your pup or watch with them. The company says their programming is scientifically designed for dogs.. Programs are divided into 3 categories, to meet a dog’s typical daily cycle and enrich their environment:
• Relaxation – Content designed to reduce their stress level and keep them calm through soothing music, sounds and visuals.
• Stimulation – Dogs need to be stimulated, which is hard to achieve when they are home alone. DOGTV uses stimulating scenes with and without other animals, animation sequences and a variety of moving objects to stimulate the dogs. Great care is taken to use just the rights sounds and frequencies to encourage the dog’s playfulness even when home alone.
• Exposure – Based on the most advanced veterinary science, DOGTV uses special sounds and visuals to help habituate the dog and make him more comfortable in his environment, by exposing him to different day-to-day stimuli.3 months of DOGTV at 2$ a month
Content creators on YouTube and across the internet have created similar—if less comprehensive—pieces of content geared towards anxious pups. A quick search for “videos for dogs” will turn up thousands of results.
Some research suggests that dogs enjoy watching content with other dogs and animals the most, so that’s where we recommend getting started.
Can Dogs See TV? FAQ
Let’s take a look at some of the other questions dog owners have about their pups watching TV.
Do intelligent dogs watch TV more than less intelligent dogs?
There isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that intelligence has anything to do with whether or not a dog watches TV. Since all dogs can see TV equally, it appears that dogs who are more interested are those with higher prey drives, more alertness, and more interest in watching people or other animals, not necessarily the more intelligent dogs.
Do dogs like to watch TV when alone?
Some dogs really like to watch TV when alone! Leaving the TV on while you’re away can help your pup relax, especially if you put on a familiar program. If TV riles up your dog, then it’s probably not a good idea to leave on while you’re away.
Are there some dog breeds that watch TV more than others?
Breeds with a naturally higher prey drive and interest in chasing/watching may be more likely to watch TV than others. For example terriers and sighthounds may be more reactive to movement on the TV since they are typically more reactive to movement in real life.
Do dogs like watching TV with dogs?
Yes! Dogs can easily recognize other dogs on the TV, even if they are a completely different size or breed than themselves. Research suggests that many dogs actually prefer watching programs with dogs in them vs. content without dogs or other animals.
What does it mean when a dog watches TV?
It just means that your dog is interested! There’s nothing to do or worry about—your pup is just taking in the sights and sounds of the TV.
Can cats watch TV?
Yes! Cats can watch TV, and like dogs, some of them really enjoy it! Cats are especially prone to trying to catch or play with images on screen, something dogs are less likely to do.
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