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Can Dogs See TV + Can They Tell What's Happening on the Big Screen?

The first time you catch a quick glimpse of your pup peering into your TV screen during a Netflix session, it seems unbelievable. Can dogs see images on TV, or is it just a coincidence or a reaction to a sound? Learn more about what, if anything, a dog sees when it's watching the big screen. 

In modern times, many of us end up in front of the TV to unwind and relax after a long, busy day. Even better than Netflix and chilling is cuddling up with your best doggy companion for a snuggle fest on the couch while you catch up on the latest series that's caught your attention. 

Some dogs seem to enjoy sitting in front of the TV for more than just the bonding cuddles it brings. Many canines even appear to watch and react to the objects on the screen in front of them. 

How do dogs see the TV?

A dog's vision works much differently than ours, and the anatomy of their eyes allows them to see some things much better than we do and others much worse. 

We're digging up everything you need to know to understand if dogs honestly watch TV or if they're hearing familiar noises that cause them to react. 

Do dogs watch TV? 

If your dog is peering at your TV screen, chances are a triggering sound caught their interest and drew their attention. 

Surprisingly enough, your dog can see some images on your television, but likely not all of them. 

What do dogs see on the TV screen?

To understand what your doggo sees when he looks at your TV screen, we need to explain a few things about dog vision and how it differs from ours. 

Are dogs color blind?

All dogs are colorblind, with dichromatic vision, meaning they see only color tones on the blue and yellow spectrum - red and green objects look muddied and grey in the eyes of a dog.

On a flat, 2D screen like a television, the limited color range can affect how much a dog sees. Without the extra dimension, the brown and grey colors prevalent in a canine's vision make it harder to distinguish various objects.

Dogs Like Hi-Def Better, Too

Our doggos may greatly benefit from the new TV upgrade as much as we do - new TVs are scientifically better for a dog to watch. 

What dogs lack in color vision they make up for in their eye's ability to register speed. This tool helps them see small prey moving at lightning-quick speeds and makes them more likely to watch modern television. 

Older televisions showed fewer frames per second, which couldn't keep up with the speed of a dog's eyes - the image would likely be rapidly flickering as they watched.

HDTV and those with much faster frame rates per second look smoother to a dog, who can then more easily pick out familiar objects. 

Factors of a Dog's Interest in TV 

Mostly, your dog's preference for TV, or lack of one, all comes down to personality. Some dogs might be utterly uninterested in TV, while others show a bit of curiosity, to full-on excitement, with plenty of jumping and barking. 

If you're like the rest of America and watch TV regularly, your dog is likely a little desensitized to the television. Even if a pup sees a dog on TV, he'll probably understand that the dogs walking around on-screen never actually appear in the flesh unless it's his first rodeo. Similar to when dogs dream, they mostly seem to tell the difference between fiction and reality. 

There are common patterns in the way that certain breeds react to the TV. Hounds and other scent-driven pups pay less attention to images and focus on using their snouts instead, which usually leads to a low interest in the TV screen. 

Any dog breeds historically bred as herders are more likely to want to watch TV with you, as their eyes are more fine-tuned to look out for subtle movements, like those on a screen. 

Gauging and Understanding your Dog's TV Reactions

Dogs have binocular vision, which allows both eyes to move the same way at once. This unique trait also means that our dogs can see that the TV's images aren't in the room with them but on another plane. 

Do animals like music and other sounds they hear on TV?

Your dog may bark at the TV if he sees another dog, but it may be more about the noise than the image - dogs are programmed to respond to any calls they hear with a loud callback. Some dogs like music and may even sing-along, while others find it hard to withstand.

And while your pup is most likely to notice and watch moving images, experts aren't sure that dogs watch TV and know what the image is that they're watching unless other sound cues are clueing them in. 

Final Notes: The Best Videos for Dogs to Watch

Many owners have dogs that absolutely dread being left alone and will leave a TV on for some noise to provide the pet a little comfort while their favorite person is away. 

As with everything pet-related, some people took this idea to the next level and created shows aimed at doggie entertainment. 

Most episodes are only three to five minutes long, which is the average length of most dogs' attention span. There are stimulating episodes and relaxing ones, with plenty of different options available. 

Most dogs like to see other pups on the screen, but they don't necessarily love to hear triggering barking sounds - instead, many episodes contain classical music. 

Does TV for dogs work to soothe pups?

It's hard to say and largely depends on your dog's personality. If you're curious, try playing some YouTube videos for your pup and see how it reacts. 

Either way, we don't think you need to worry about your furry friend asking you to hand over the remote anytime soon.

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