Question – Can a Dog Watch TV?

Two Dogs Watching TV together

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Many people enjoy watching television with their canine companions, but what are dogs really seeing during the premier of the newest episode of The Newsroom or Hannibal?

To answer this question we need to examine what makes a dog’s eyes tick, if you will. Now to perceive a bunch of images as film human beings need to have those images transitioning from about 16 to 20 frames per second. But a canine needs about 70 frames per second to see anything, the reason for this is that dogs have much better motion perception than we do.

So if the question is merely, can dogs see what is on a television screen, the answer is unequivocally, yes, but only if that particular television set has a frame rate of 70 frames per second or more (like many HD/Blu-ray televisions whose excessive frame rate often makes them hard for even humans to watch. The very first HDTVs had a refresh rate of 60, meaning that the screen would create sixty images per second. TVs like this aren’t ideal but their newer counterparts tend to have a much higher refresh rate than 60 so that dogs would be able to see it.

But even though dogs can perceive images on a television screen they will be seeing them much differently than we do. Dogs see in a different color range than we humans do so naturally a Hollywood color palette of blue and orange isn’t going to appear the same to them as it does to us.

But one might rationally pose the question, can dogs understand what they see? Well, that depends, obviously, a dog will only understand something on the television that it would understand in any other circumstance. That being said, dogs do understand the difference between an actual animal and a facsimile of an animal.

This is most potently demonstrated by the fact that most dogs that tend to watch television on a regular basis are very interested in nature shows (especially if shot low to the ground) and will often get excited by other animals running about.

However, in contrast, dogs will be singularly uninterested in cartoons most of the time, even cartoon animals, because they can understand the figures in front of them, however, they also understand that these motions are not those of any real animal. A dog can recognize another dog even through only a silhouette by the movements of the other canine alone, it is this impressive oracular ability that allows dogs to differentiate between real animals and cartoon ones.

Of course, it should be noted that the temperament of your dog or dog will also have an enormous impact on whether or not the dog will watch television. If your dog is easily frightened by loud noises or flashing images then every time that something happens on TV your dog will likely run away and hide.

Conversely, some dogs just aren’t very interested in watching television and it isn’t advised you make your animals watch them. Just like humans some dogs are more sensitive to light than others and some dogs (usually those with epilepsy) can be pained by quickly flashing lights.

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