While science has shown that dogs can engage with television and that they prefer certain programmes, it has yet to delve into the complex question of whether they actually enjoy it. We as humans will often watch distressing footage or videos that make us feel a range of emotions, from distress to anger and horror. It’s not always because it makes us feel good. We just don’t know whether similar factors motivate dogs to watch.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
How dogs watch TV is very different to the way humans do, however. Instead of sitting still, dogs will often approach the screen to get a closer look, and walk repeatedly between their owner and the television. They are essentially fidgety, interactive viewers.
Dog owners often notice their pets watching televisions, computer screens and tablets. But what is going on in their pooch’s head? Indeed, by tracking their vision using similar methods used on humans, research has found that domestic dogs do prefer certain s and videos.
This research indicates that dogs have a preference towards watching other canines – but our studies have also discovered that sound often initially attracts dogs towards television and other devices. Favoured sounds include dogs barking and whining, people giving dog-friendly commands and praise, and the noise of toys squeaking.
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Picture this: Youre snuggled in for the evening with your dog at your feet, as you catch up on your favorite series, you notice your pup perk up, tilt their head and stare at the TV screen with intent. Then, they bark and wag their tail. Theyre clearly happy, but whats going on? Do dogs watch TV? Do dogs prefer certain shows? And maybe more importantly, do dogs understand TV?
To answer these questions, were digging into the science behind a dogs vision and how they process what they see.
Do Dogs Know That TV Isn’t Real?
It is hard to know what dogs are “thinking” when they watch TV, and some seem to take it much more seriously than others. That being said, it does appear that dogs recognize other animals on TV, will respond to the barking of dogs, and readily distinguish photos of dogs from cartoon dogs.
But dogs also heavily rely on other senses, such as smell—which clearly isn’t possible on a televised . Based on the disconnect with dogs’ most important sense (smell), it’s likely that dogs do recognize that the on the screen isn’t real, but instead a representation of an animal or figure.
That being said, dogs do often respond to the sounds made by animals on TV, and this clearly communicates information to them, even across species lines. So it might be wise to avoid shows involving distressed animals when your dog is sharing screen time.