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Can Dogs Really Watch TV?

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Dogs were not able to watch television in the past because the screen quality was too poor. A dog is able to recognise images quicker than we can and the television sets of the past that showed fewer frames per second meant dogs weren’t really able to watch them. To them the images would be poor quality and flickering.

Televisions have come a long way in recent years and the picture has improved significantly, especially with HD TV. Dogs are now able to see the pictures shown on TV more clearly. ‘Now that modern TVs generate more frames per second, dogs can perceive the pictures as film, just like we do,’ says Ernst Otto Ropstad, an associate professor at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science.

However, dogs can’t see the same spectrum of colours that humans can. They can only see certain colours such as blue and yellow. So they won’t be able to make out the full range of colours shown on a television. When asked about whether dogs can watch TV, Stanley Coren, an expert on dogs said ‘Sure, dogs can watch TV, but it depends on a few optic factors as well as the temperament of the dog itself.’ Stanley works in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia.

How your dog reacts to watching television may completely depend on their personality and natural instincts. Some dogs go absolutely nuts when they see animals on the TV, whereas others may not even bat an eyelid.

A dog’s breed can also have a big influence as some breeds respond to specific cues they see or hear on television. Others simply have far better sight and hearing. For example, hounds are mainly interested in scent which they don’t get from a TV, so they are more likely to switch off. Dogs that are bred to chase things might be more likely to react to animals running on the TV. However, there isn’t much research into the difference between breeds when watching TV, these are just educated guesses based on the specific strengths some dog breeds have. ‘No research has been made regarding differences in breeds as regards how many images per second they need to perceive TV as film.’ Ernst Otto Ropstad, professor at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science.

Along with normal TV channels, there are now channels designed specifically for canine viewers. For example, DogTV is a HD channel that shows a higher number of frames per second so that dogs can make out the pictures better. Humans need 16 o 20 images per second whereas dogs need about 70 images per second to see images clearly.

This channel also uses the specific colours that dogs see.


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