Research conducted by the American Rover organisation shows that up to 80 per cent of dogs react to what appears on the TV screen. 60 per cent of respondents declare that their dogs have a favourite programme. What is the truth? Do dogs watch television? Do they understand it? Here is what is known on this subject.
How do dogs perceive the TV screen?
Not all pets are interested in watching TV, but some dogs love it. They see the screen differently from humans, but they still know what’s on it. Research shows that other dogs are the most likely to watch.
Dogs can’t see all colours. They have trouble reading red. Yellow and blue tones predominate in their world – this is why at canine competitions dogs have yellow and blue balls and most obstacles are in these colours.
In return, dogs are not as sensitive to deteriorating light as humans. At night they may not see as well as a cat, but unlike humans, they can get around the house without having to turn on the light. This is all due to the large cornea and the ability to increase contrast.
It also has a wider field of vision. A dog can see not only objects directly in front of its nose but all objects within 120 degrees. In comparison, the width of a human’s field of vision is 85-100 degrees. A dog does not have to look at the TV all the time in order not to lose the thread.
A dog’s eye is much more sensitive to movement than a human’s. This has its disadvantages. With televisions with a low refresh rate (up to 55 Hz), the dog does not see smooth movement, but blinking slides. For a four-legged dog, the absolute minimum is 60 Hz; at 75 Hz it has good picture quality.
Is there a television for dogs?
We have Netflix, dogs have Netflix. The first television for dogs was launched in 2012. The channels were adapted to dog eyesight: they have a different colour gamut and display a minimum of 75 frames per second.
On DOGTV, dogs (or rather dog owners) can choose from several channels. One of them is for relaxation. It displays dogs running around in a meadow, with butterflies flying around them. Underneath the video, you can see pictures of dogs that have watched the film with fascination.
Another programme is designed to socialise puppies. It shows them riding in a car, walking on a leash, greeting other pets and sleeping in a bed. These programmes have an educational value – researchers at the University of Bristol proved that dogs who watched such channels were less aggressive and fearful.
There’s also something for the dog-smart: dogs skateboarding, doing tricks, playing with their companions, jumping on their heads – but actually, why would you want to show such programmes to your dog? The DOGTV website claims that they increase self-confidence and reduce vulnerability to stress. Is this true? Not sure.
Do dogs like to watch TV?
Some people spend the whole weekend in front of the TV, others just watch the evening news. It is the same with dogs. Depending on their disposition, they may have different preferences. Some will enjoy watching TV, others will not.
Shepherd dogs may be more drawn to watching television. Breeds such as the border collie, Shetland or Australian shepherd are very sensitive to movement. They tend to chase bicycles and cars – with equal passion they can stare at the dogs running around the screen.
However, one should be careful that watching TV with a dog does not turn into fixation or addiction. The most important thing for a dog’s development is to spend time with its owner. Preferably outside, not in front of the TV.