We love to have our pets around when we watch TV, right? And they also seem to love it. But do they really enjoy watching TV or do they enjoy the fact that they can sit close to you?
Well, let’s find out.
Many experts claim that it depends on the dog’s personality. Some dogs simply lose themselves when they see another dog or any other animal on screen while others like advertisements that are bright and loud.
Do they really understand what’s going on or is it just a random reaction to events on the screen?
Scientifically speaking, dogs can perceive images on TV just like human beings. They are intelligent enough to recognize different animals and maybe even to discern the different images that splash on the screen.
Instinct and Personality
In addition, they are also tuned to the sounds. For example, if they hear another dog barking, they will react to it. Same is the case with other animals, even ones that they’ve never had a chance to see such as lions and tigers.
One way to explain this affinity to other animals, regardless of whether they have seen that species or not, is their natural instinct. In the wild, they have a genetic predisposition to see other animals and probably even gauge what their next action would be. This is all a part of their natural instinct.
Even today this instinct remains with the dog, despite the fact that they are now domesticated and live with humans. This partly explains why dome dogs get excited when they see other animals. Some of them even run behind the TV to look for these animals. Such dogs tend to be sociable by nature. They like to be around other dogs and maybe even animals, and it is this personality that makes them react to the images on TV.
But why the others don’t? Again it is probably because they understand that the animals on the TV pose no threat to them in any way, so they are simply not interested. How they react wholly depends on the dog’s personality and how they perceive other animals on TV.
To some extent, it also depends on the breed. While some dog breeds are aggressive like German Shepherd, there are other more laidback ones as well. So, this aspect also has a bearing on how dogs react to other animals or dogs on TV.
Likewise, breeds such as hounds have a well-developed smell instinct, so what comes on TV doesn’t interest them at all. They are the ones that decide to react based on the smell of another living being. Since the TV provides no stimulus for their smell instinct, it does not attract them at all.
What about the non-animal images? Do these excite dogs as well?
Before answering this question, we should talk a little about dog’s eyesight.
The eyes of your dog work much faster than yours. Again, this comes from their genetic traits, but they can see things more quickly than you can ever dream of.
For example, images that appear on old TV sets where the number of frames per second is much lesser than modern televisions, is too slow for your dog. In fact, it may appear like a 1920s movie for them!
In addition, dogs have dichromatic vision, which means, they can see and perceive two primary colors namely yellow and blue. Humans, on the other hand, have a trichromatic vision which means we can see and perceive three primary colors namely red, blue and green.
This difference makes many images less appealing to your dog because they will not be able to distinguish colors as well as you. This is also why a dedicated HDTV channel called DogTV appeals to dogs. The programs in this channel are really fast and they use only two colors. So, the dogs not only enjoy the action better, but they are also able to see the full range of colors that appears on this channel.
Interestingly, there are reports that show that this channel has decreased stress in dogs. For example, there are specific relaxation programs that show images of dogs chilling out in grassy lands to help the dog to relax. Likewise, if you want to stimulate your dog, there are a few programs that show dogs surfing off the California coast. A lot of research has gone into these programs and this is sure to keep your dog hooked and engaged for many hours.
Now to answer the question of whether dogs enjoy watching non-living things, it again depends on the breed and personality of the dog. A study was conducted to see how dogs react to different non-animal objects and their preferences for one over another. In this study, dogs were presented with three screens. None of the dogs seemed to prefer one screen over another. They just preferred to watch one screen, and that too, only half-heartedly, regardless of what was played in that screen.
This experiment proved that dogs do not really have preferences when it comes to TV shows, but they would sure like to watch specific dogs channel as it is something that they can relate with.
Do They Enjoy Watching TV?
Now that we have explored how their visions work and what their preferences are, do you think they enjoy watching TV?
Unfortunately, we do not know the answer yet because scientists are yet to delve into the complex functioning of the dog’s brain. Let us hope that they come up with an answer to this question at the earliest, so we can decide what to expose our dog to.
In short, dogs are like human beings in some ways. They do like to watch TV and maybe will even react to some things, mostly other dogs or animals. Some studies even show that they enjoy specific dog channels and programs. But, there is no conclusive proof on whether they enjoy what’s being played.
So, for now sit back and watch your favorite program with your canine friend.
- Katherine Tolford, Can Dogs See TV?, PetMD
- Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, PhD, Here’s What Dogs See When They Watch Television, The Conversation