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Dog Bones

Why Do Dogs Watch TV?

What do dogs actually see on TV?

What do dogs see when they stare at TV?


Domestic dogs can perceive images on television similarly to the way we do, and they are intelligent enough to recognize onscreen images of animals as they would in real life—even animals they've never seen before—and to recognize TV dog sounds, like barking.

As the photo demonstrates, some dogs pay rapt attention to television. But, hey, it does seem a bit on the sneaky side to insert high-frequency sounds that only dogs can hear in a commercial - even though it might help sell dog food.

There are some differences between our vision and dogs' eyesight. For example, dogs' eyes register images more quickly than ours. So older television sets, which show fewer frames per second than modern TVs, would appear to a dog to be flickering like a "1920s movie," said Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University, in Massachusetts.

Dogs also have dichromatic vision, which means they see a range of two primary colors, yellow and blue. Human vision is trichromatic, so we see the full range of colors, according to Binghamton University's Ask a Scientist web page.

Some dogs not only bark at animals on the screen, but also run behind the TV looking for them. Others, like my dog, Lucy, show no interest in anything on the TV.

Source: Liz Langley, National Geographic

B.L. Ochman

B.L. Ochman is the human companion of Lucy the Rescue Puppy. She is a professional writer, podcast producer and trusted advisor to brands in verticals from cars to cookies. She's a native New Yorker and lover of Central Park—where dogs can be off-leash until 9 am. She also is a really pretty good swing dancer.


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