What dogs can see on the screen is also different to humans. Dogs have dichromatic vision – they have two types of colour receptor cells and see colour within two spectrums of light: blue and yellow. The use of colour within media is very important for dogs and explains why canine TV channel, DogTV prioritises these colours in its programming. Dogs’ eyes are also more sensitive to movement and vets suspect that the improved flicker rate that has come from the shift from standard to high definition television has allowed dogs to better perceive media shown on TV.
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.
What a dog does engage with, however, differs from dog to dog, depending on their personality, experience and preference. This is speculated to be influenced by what their owner watches, with dogs following their human’s gaze and other communication signals, such as gestures and head turns.
But while dogs have their own TV channel, and have been shown to prefer to watch other dogs through short interactions with specially coloured programmes, many mysteries remain. Nevertheless, technology has the potential to provide entertainment for domestic canines, improving the welfare of dogs left home alone and in kennels. Just don’t expect a doggie version of the Radio Times just yet.
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.
Find food that fits your pet’s needs
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.
The History of Your Dog’s Eyesight
While there isnt much history on this topic, dogs eyesight was originally evolved for hunting. As descendants from wolves, this was essential to survival and enabled dogs to see the big picture before zeroing in on prey. Because of this, dogs have really good peripheral vision and are better at seeing movement from a distance rather than up close on a screen.
Screens are also a relatively new tool, and dogs still rely on instinct to interpret the world around them. For instance, a smell-less screen is a lot less interesting than the squirrel outside your kitchen window.