Does Your Dog Watch TV?

Dogs watching tv

When Bo was a baby, hearing a dog barking on the TV would get his attention. But no more. I’ve tried to get him to watch youtube videos with dogs in them, but he’s just not interested. It always made me wonder if dogs can actually watch TV or not.

Well, it seems that there is a TV station in the US, and now in Israel, especially for dogs. But do they actually watch it?

The BBC asked Stanley Coren, professor emeritus in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia and expert on the subject of the dog-human relationship, for help answering that question. His answer? Sure, dogs can watch TV, but it depends on a few optic factors as well as the temperament of the dog itself.

Refresh rate is the term that’s most important here–it refers to the speed at which an image is replaced by the next image on the screen. The first HDTVs had a refresh rate of 60Hz, meaning the screen draws 60 pictures each second. Our eyes can be fooled by about 50Hz, so we see a continuous moving picture. If you drop below that, we start to see flickering, like in a flip-book.

Dogs (and cats, though they’re not mentioned in the BBC article) have much sharper eyes than we do; dogs will still see that flicker up until about 75Hz. Luckily, newer TVs have much higher refresh rates, so you can grab a TV with a 120Hz, 240Hz, or even higher refresh rate. That’s needed for a dog to identify the picture as moving and not as a series of still images. ᔥCan Dogs Watch TV? | Popular Science

The article goes on to say that the position of the television is also important, and should be at the dog’s eye level, instead of the human’s. But, if you read the comments on that article, there is some more interesting information, plus some disagreement, especially about refresh rates.

One commenter pointed out that dogs see in only 2 primary colors, unlike humans, who see in 3 primary colors. Makes me wonder what the TV screen looks like to a dog.

A few of the other commenters seem to have dogs that are a lot more highly evolved than any dog I’ve ever owned- one dog has memorized jingles and comes into the TV room to hear them – IF an animal is in it; another dog will bark at the right answer of which animal was in a commercial – when it’s owner names a list of animals, and also recognizes a certain lion logo; another pays attention to the TV only when there are animals and violence involved.

I don’t think Bo would ever be that interested in the TV, although I do leave it on for him if he’s going to left alone at home for a while. But I do think that dogs are a lot smarter than a lot of people give them credit for, so who knows? Maybe if I put the TV on the floor, he would love to watch “Dog With A Blog”!

Does your dog watch TV?

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  1. Reply

    this is so interesting…
    people are really getting good at research.. the last thing I heard was dogs don’t watch TV cause they can’t smell it, so it isn’t real to them.. but cats do/did, cause they can accept the visual..
    nice to be informed..

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