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Does your Dog Watch TV?

Does your Dog Watch TV?

Almost everyone I know with a dog claims that their pooch watches television. I believe them, but I also know that a dog’s eyesight is very different from ours, so what exactly does “watching TV” mean for a dog?

Pet experts say that a lot of dogs will actually follow the movement of objects on the screen–and may even bark. However a dog doesn’t see the screen the same way we do. Although dogs don’t see exclusively in black and white (as many people think), they don’t have the same range of color that humans do. There are fewer cones (color vision cells) in a dog’s eye than in a human’s eye. Yet, dogs have many more rods (light and motion detectors) than we do, so although they see a limited spectrum, they can see better at night. Dogs can also see flickering light better than we can, which means they might even be able to see individual frames in a television sequence where we would see a continuous scene.

Because of the anatomy of a dog’s eyes, the dog cannot tell what an object on the screen actually is. But the movement and shapes he is able to see can be pretty intriguing. The sounds emitted from the television are attention-grabbing as well. Because dogs can pinpoint the directional origin of sounds they hear, the TV can be quite aurally entertaining. Although experts say that a dog’s acute hearing can differentiate between a television sound and a live sound, many a dog still seem to be fairly well entertained by the sounds coming from the set.

Does your dog watch TV? What kind of programs does he or she like?

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Pets, , ,

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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8:55PM PST on Jan 14, 2015

my dog can spot a dog on the tv immediately even if they are not in the forefront. He comes in the house and more times than not sits down and immediately watches tv. If I pick up the remote and point it toward the tv he looks at the tv because he knows it is going to come on. Those dog shows on tv are not relaxing to my dog he barks and whines and finally will want to leave the room.

5:51PM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

I call BS on this.

Our last dog watched TV, & she would go into a barking frenzy anytime an animal was on.

We had to give up watching Bull riding because she went into such a frenzy.

She was so smart that when she was in another room, & heard a commercial come on that had an animal in it.

She'd come running in & get in position to react when it appeared.

One ever had a line drawing of a dog, & she recognised it.

So don't tell me they can't tell what they're watching.

The one we have now completely ignores TV.

3:34PM PDT on Jun 2, 2014

Don't know why, but my dog really likes to watch Sam and Cat when my sister watches it. When it's on he stares at the screen, then when it's over he just goes back to what he's doing.

5:15PM PDT on Jun 1, 2014

We have a 2 year old male Toy Chihuahua. We have tested the sound theory by having the T.V. on with no sound. He will bark at all animals big and small. We have a 55 inch LG HD, etc. However he also barks like crazy at some of my Bing Desktop Backgrounds on a 17 inch screen and also runs be hide the laptop thinking the animal is behind it. We have 3 Chihuahuas and my In-Laws have 2 and he is the only one who does this. My question is: he has hazel eyes and all the other ones have brown eyes, could this alter his vision? Can't wait to read any and all comments!

11:14AM PDT on Sep 26, 2013

My dog watches TV. And he goes nuts when he hears other animals howl, bark or make strange noises. The Ambulance siren makes HIM howl.....

6:29AM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

hahaha, this is very funny question


9:11AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

Yes! We have a Sheepadoodle puppy, Annie, who watches tv if any dog is on it. She is totally into it. I believe she absolutely recognizes dogs, with or without barking. Initially she ran behind the tv wall to try to find the dogs. Now she just paws at the dog images as they move about. Unless a dog is on the tv, she doesn't seem to enjoy watching. Walter made a brief (1+min) video of Annie watching the Shaggy DA and Westminster Dog Show. Pretty funny. Here's a link - enjoy! You may have to copy and paste.

1:29AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Our Bernese, Polo, didn't care about TV, his interest was singing when my father played viola, or his students played violin, his tail wagging like crazy. On the other hand, Max would growl every time President Nixon came on the screen. It was hilarious! Was she detecting a lack of integrity? It was uncanny!

1:24AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

On the other hand, Polo LOVED to sing when my father played violin or viola. When his students came to the house, Polo would always join in for a duet, wagging his tail like crazy! Then settle down and listen to the music. Now our cat comes in, primly sits on the chair, and waits for the concert! She loves music too! TV wasn't as exciting as the music in the living room.

1:19AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Our dog Polo didn't care at all, never looked at the TV when it was on. Max, on the other hand, would growl every time President Nixon came on years ago. It was hilarious! She obviously was in tune with something there, sensed a lack of integrity perhaps??? or perhaps picked up on our feelings!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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