Can Dogs See TV: When Fido Has A Favorite Show

Can Dogs See TV
John Walton
Written by John Walton

It is a common misconception to pet parents that dogs cannot see what is on the television if they decided to sit with us on the couch while watching our favorite series or TV show. A sweet-sounding myth is that they only stay because they want to be around, regardless of whether they can or cannot see what we are watching. But can dogs watch TV for real?

According to dog experts and veterinarians, dogs can see what we can see in general. In fact, the newer television models with higher resolution that generate higher frames per second compared to the older television generations actually allow dogs to see the images just like we humans do. By incorporating a fast set of images that our eyes register as a moving image is known as flicker fusion frequency.

Because new televisions deliver smoother frequency, our fur babies are able to catch up. The human vision only needs up to 20 frames per second to see an image as a continuous film, but dogs require up to 70 images per second. The frame per second varies on breeds, age, and even attention span.

Dog watching television

Still, there are numerous factors regarding dogs watching television that affects the way they respond. A television that is viewed by the dog to its eye level is more likely to create a response compared to televisions placed on a higher spot and dogs must look up just to watch.

Positioning, the quality of imagery, and the accompanying sound are just some of the factors that affect the response. Now, even if these factors are fulfilled, many dogs do not watch television when the TV is placed at a comfortable human eye level. Because dogs do not tend to scan images by looking up, they rarely notice what is on the TV.

So, to make things clear, dogs can watch TV but that doesn’t mean they always do. Sometimes its attention is more focused to someone or something more important like your company. Dog day care centers often offer TVs to showcase how well-equipped their facilities are. However, this is actually an ineffective way to capture the dog’s attention especially if it is placed at a high place. The only effective way to gain their attention is to place the TV on the floor. If this is something you’ll find in the dog day care center, then the facility owner is doing it right.

It is a surprising and at the same time learning experience that while dogs respond when there is an animal or real image that appears on the screen, they do not respond to animated or cartoon dogs. This is a really strong proof that dogs have a great ability to accurately perceive moving images. While they can see how a cartoon dog moves, this is not something that is moving realistically. Thus, when a dog sees something moving, the realness of the moving image will determine how the dog will respond.

Dog-dedicated channels

Due to the large percentage of families that have dogs, the development of dog-dedicated television channels is on a constant rise over the past few years. These channels show films that are configured to be healthy and non-agitating to our fur babies.

Dog dedicated channels

These dog-dedicated channels encourage pet parents to give their dogs a healthy viewing experience, especially if the dogs stay inside the house most of the time. Channels like DOGTV and FidoTV are just some of the dedicated channels that have been utilized by dog owners that share the love for television with their pets.

Composite pet ownership

For families that have numerous pets in the house that are not just dogs, you should be aware that not all animals share the same frame per second requirement to keep them away from trauma and anxiety. Families with dogs and birds should understand that dogs require around 70 images per second, but birds will require over a hundred frames per second.

Any value that is off range will definitely agitate the bird. This anxiety can be similar to a child that gets stressed when exposed to strobe lights.

Doggy viewing experience

While it is true that dogs can see what we can see, the quality of visual imagery sets us apart. The human eyes have cones, which enhances the television viewing experience and making it different from our dogs. Our fur babies can see the details of what we are seeing, but it is not as clear. What they can see on the television shares the similar amount of detail on how much they can see it in nature. This is why some dogs rush towards the television screen when there is another dog or animal that appears.

Doggy viewing experience

However, as previously mentioned, it is not just about visual acuity that affects the reaction of the dog. Some factors should also be included such as temperament, age, and how the dog was raised by the family. For families with several dogs in their homes, they can observe that some dogs have their attention glued into the television, while others are more distracted and don’t pay attention at all.

Hunting instinct activated

No matter how much hunting or herding instinct was washed off from a breed due to selective breeding and further domestication, there will always be a part of it that will remain. This is something incorporated in their genes.

This instinct will also depend on the breed’s intelligence, as there will be dogs that will keep on chasing a stimulus that is appearing on the television screen, whereas some dogs will figure this out quickly.

Dog Watching TV

When an animals like dogs or its early ancestors, are hunting, the motion that is caught by its eyes against a non-moving background is what activates the hunting instinct. This is why television shows can trigger this innate instinct. The hunting instinct is fairly normal to be activated to dog breeds that were bred as domesticated hunters, such as retrievers and pointers.

Healthy watching

Aside from the ideal dog level which is something that can be compromised if you are willing to place the TV on a lower position or the other way around, there are several other factors that encourage a healthy viewing experience. As dogs have hyper acute hearing ability, and it is very important to understand how we can maintain a healthy watching experience and environment for our dogs.

Healthy watching

If you can anticipate that a show will have a large array of stimuli that can agitate the dog, you can either find something else to watch or transfer the dog to a less agitating location in the house. You should also adjust the volume and brightness to keep erratic or anxiety-inducing sounds within a tolerable range.

Doggie well-being

Televisions, when utilized properly, can be a good method of diversion for dogs. However, if you are looking for an authentic stimulating activity, there is no better HD viewing than the outside world. It will strongly encourage the mental and physical stimulation of your dog without worrying if it is really paying attention or not.

We can combine natural and technological stimulation to keep our dogs mentally and physically healthy, and this combination can allow the formation of a closer bond between you and your fur baby whether outdoors or in the couch.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.