Do Dogs Watch TV (And Do They Think It’s Real)?


You cozy up on the couch, reach for the remote, and pick up where you left off on your new favorite show. A moment later, your dog comes into the room and plops down in front of the TV…

Antics like this show how dogs can be more human-like than we think! So many of the real-life sounds and sights that intrigue furry friends are replicated in movies and television—such as rumbling cars, ringing doorbells, and scurrying animals—and it only seems natural that pups would enjoy watching them on the screen.


So, Do Dogs Watch TV?

Yes, dogs can and do watch TV! While your furry friend's interest level depends on their breed and personality, many dogs like resting in front of the screen and watching the action. Dogs can't follow storylines the way humans can, but the unique noises and movements can indeed attract their attention.

How well dogs can see TV is a different story. While dogs can see color, they cannot see the full spectrum of the rainbow. Pooches can make out blue and yellow shades but struggle to see colors like red and orange. So, the colors on the screen can greatly influence how well your dog perceives the movie or show. A scene featuring the ocean's aqua-colored waves might stand out to your furry friend, but a field of red roses will probably look dull and hazy. Plus, dogs can't see as well from far distances as humans can; the activity happening on a TV can be difficult to discern if your pup is not directly in front of the screen.


Do They Think It's Real?

 dog on couch with remote

There's no way to tell for sure whether dogs think the on-screen events are really happening, but the signs point to probably not. TV screens don't have depth, making the illusion of reality less convincing. More importantly, dogs can't use their dominant sense of smell to interact with the TV. Furry friends rely heavily on their noses to learn about the world around them, and the lack of scent attached to the people and objects on TV can make these figures less believable.

Even with these limitations, some dogs may be captivated by a loud noise or fast movement on the TV, so don't be surprised if your pup barks back at an on-screen dog! Interestingly, cartoon animals are another story. Dogs can recognize that an animated figure's movements are not a precise rendering of a live animal's movements—and therefore they can understand what they're looking at is not a real animal, according to Psychology Today.


What Do Dogs Like to Watch on TV?

While we wish dogs could appreciate our favorite dramas and comedies, their taste is much simpler. Many pups prefer to look at animals they're familiar with—such as squirrels, rabbits, and fellow dogs—making nature documentaries a favorite among doggy audiences. Shows and movies with lots of action can also keep your pooch engaged, although it's best to keep the volume low enough that they won't be startled.

Speaking of sound, programs with relaxing music could interest your dog. In fact, a Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine study found easy listening music to have a soothing, therapeutic effect on dogs. If you happen to stumble upon a film with a subdued and calming soundtrack, check it out and see if your pup appreciates the melodies!


RELATED: Do Dogs Like Music? 3 Playlists They'll Love


Do All Dogs Like TV?

pomeranian dog watching tv 

Now that you know what dogs like to watch on TV, you might be wondering whether the appreciation is universal. Not all dogs enjoy TV, but the majority of furry friends seem to like it! In fact, nearly 60% of pet parents claim their dog has a favorite show, according to Rover.

But what about the fur pals in the minority? Ancestry is probably the biggest obstacle. Breeds like Terriers that were bred to hunt may react to squeaky noises and sudden movements on the screen, but scent-trailing breeds such as Bloodhounds may not be as engaged because there is no odor, according to the American Kennel Club.

Check your dog's body language while the TV is on to find out how they feel about the movie or show they're watching. An intense gaze and wagging tail signal they are happy and intrigued, while barking or pacing could mean they feel uneasy about the sights and sounds they're experiencing.


Is High-Resolution TV More Enjoyable for Dogs?

Humans aren't the only ones who appreciate high def! As TV technology evolves, so does our dogs' understanding of what they're watching. The motion you see on a TV screen is actually a series of still images that are rapidly cycled through, similar to a flipbook. For humans, it takes at least 55 cycles per second (also known as 55 Hertz) for a set of these "flickers" to appear as one continuous motion. While we see fluid motion on the screen, dogs can resolve flickers at 75 Hz, according to Psychology Today. In other words, furry friends see the action on most TVs as a series of still images rather than an ongoing movement.

Some contemporary TVs refresh at 120 Hz, allowing dogs to see continuous motion. If you have one of these models, the events on the screen are far more lifelike to your dog!


Time to Tune in

Even though there's evidence dogs do watch TV, there's no way to know what your furry friend might like until you introduce them to different shows and movies. Sit your dog down and see how they react to various TV actions and settings…and don't forget to experiment with scenes featuring highly visible blues and yellows!


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