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Can Dog Watch TV

Can Dogs Watch TV: Is Your Dog Actually Watching TV?

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by Helen
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Do you ever wonder if your furry friend enjoys watching TV or if they ignore it altogether? They might even seem disinterested in the entire concept of sitting down to watch a screen. To understand why dogs sometimes enjoy snuggling up with a blanket and their favorite human to watch TV, we need to take a closer look at a fascinating aspect of their anatomy: the canine eye. Sometimes, I catch my dogs watching TV as if they were enjoying what they see.

What Is the Difference Between Human and Canine Vision?

Both humans and canines have nerve cells shaped like rods and cones in their eyes.  Rod cells detect light and motion, while cones perceive colors.  Dogs can detect motion more effectively than humans, especially at long distances, and see better in low-light conditions thanks to having more rod cells than humans.  This adaptation is inherited from their wolf ancestors who needed to detect prey and avoid dangers.    Most of the time, dogs do not watch TV continuously.  Nonetheless, all dog's TV viewing habits differ.

A dog's eyes are very sensitive to light and motion due to the extra rods.  They can detect even the slightest motion, such as a tiny bug scurrying across the patio.  Additionally, a dog's eyes may appear to glow in the dark due to a reflective membrane at the back of their eyes.  This membrane intensifies the light hitting their retina, making it easier to identify objects in the dark.

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Can Dog Watch TV

The Human Eye Perceives More Colors

Our eyesight differs from that of dogs due to the number of cones we possess. As humans, we have trichromatic vision, meaning we can see red, green, and blue hues. Whereas dogs have a dichromatic vision and can only see shades of blue and yellow, everything else appears grey or brown to them. This is similar to how humans with red-green color blindness perceive the world. 

Dogs also have difficulty distinguishing between different shades of colors. For example, they cannot differentiate between light blue and dark blue colors. Instead, they see a generic ‘blue' hue.  Although dogs have excellent night vision, their daytime vision is only approximately half as sharp as ours. However, they compensate for this with their superior sense of smell and hearing.

According to Bonnie Beaver, a veterinarian and author of “Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians,” a dog's facial shape can impact their perception of the world. Dogs with elongated and thin snouts perceive the world differently than their brachycephalic counterparts with cute, flat faces.

Do Dogs Watch TV As We Do?

Dogs have the ability to listen to and react to sounds coming from the television.  However, what do they actually see on the screen?  The colors on the screen look different to dogs than they do to humans.  Additionally, dogs may be unable to distinguish as many details as humans when viewing a bright screen.  Nevertheless, the introduction of high-definition television (HDTV) has significantly enhanced the visual experience for pets.

Television does not display a continuous flow of images.  Instead, it displays a rapid sequence of separate images that appear one after the other.  In the past, TVs used to produce this sequence at a rate of 60 Hertz (Hz).  Since humans can only perceive motion up to around 55 Hz, we cannot detect the flickering as images change and perceive it as a smooth, continuous motion.  However, dogs can perceive changes at up to 75Hz.  They probably wonder why their humans spend so much time staring at all those flickering images!  Modern TVs offer high-resolution pictures that flow much faster — at a rate that even our dogs perceive as nice, smooth motion.  With resolution that helps them see better and without the annoying flickers, is it any wonder that more dogs than ever are watching TV?

We have all seen our dogs watching TV, especially when barking dogs, animal noises, or crying babies.  My dogs will even bark at the TV with certain noises like they do their toys.

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Final Thoughts: Can Dogs Watch TV Like Humans?

In conclusion, dogs see and react to TV shows differently than humans. Their dichromatic vision allows them to distinguish only a limited range of colors, and their excellent motion detection capabilities enable them to identify even the slightest movements on the screen. Although dogs may not enjoy watching TV as much as humans, they can still be attracted to certain shows, especially those featuring other animals. As responsible dog owners, we should be mindful of the content we watch with our furry friends and avoid triggering their instincts or harming their sensitive hearing.

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Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs

Below are more fascinating facts about our dog's eyes.

What is the size of a dog's eye?

A dog's eyes vary depending on their breed and size. For instance, breeds like Pekingese have more prominent eyes. However, a dog's eyes are proportionate to a human's.

Can dogs see colors?

Dogs have dichromatic vision, seeing blue and yellow and shades of brown and gray. Scientists believe that greens and purples may appear blue, while red and orange probably look brown to them.

Should you leave the TV on for your dog while you're gone?

That depends on whether your pup indeed watches the TV or only glances at it occasionally. In any case, keep the sound turned down low because of your pet's sensitive hearing.

What are the best types of shows to watch with your dog?

Regarding TV shows, dogs are more likely to be attracted to those featuring animals on screen. Nature documentaries or shows with dogs as the main characters are great choices. Some dogs may also enjoy watching sports, especially those with fast-moving balls like soccer or tennis. However, it's essential to be careful about what you watch with your dog nearby, as some shows may trigger their instincts and cause them to behave differently.

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