What Do Dogs See When They Watch TV?

When watching your favorite show on TV, snuggled up with your dog on the couch do you ever wonder if they are engaged in the show too? Does your dog watch with fascination? Does your dog bark back at the TV? Does your dog ignore it and just fall asleep when the TV is on? Dogs can watch TV with you. However, they process the experience in different ways than humans do.

Beautiful women playing with a dog and having fun
credit: domoyega/iStock/GettyImages

How dogs see color

Dogs don't see things the same as humans do. Dogs perceive color differently. According to The American Kennel Club, "Unlike humans, who are trichromatic (meaning we have three kinds of cones in the eye's retina, allowing us to see more color), dogs are dichromatic and see the world in yellow, brown and grey tones." There is a fascinating tool called Dog Vision that allows you to alter an image to see it how your dog would. Try it out to see the world from your dog's eyes.

How dogs process visual information

The American Kennel Club explains, "In fact, dogs can process visual information faster than humans, according to a 2013 study published in Animal Behaviour. Basically, when we see something move, like a tennis ball rolling across the floor, a dog would perceive this same tennis ball to move a little slower than we would. This means that dogs can detect quick changes in their visual field, like a squirrel quickly running through the backyard." This can affect if your dog is interested or underwhelmed by the TV screen.

It's a personality thing

Beautiful woman watching TV with her pug dog
credit: domoyega/iStock/GettyImages

Some dogs love watching TV. Others tune it out or don't seem to be particularly excited about it. Many dogs respond to noises they hear on TV, especially familiar ones such as barking, meowing, squeaky toys or doorbells. Some dogs will get up and run towards and behind the TV to try and locate where the sound is coming from. The breed of your dog may also affect their response to the TV. National Geographic says, "Hounds, which are driven by smell, aren't as interested in visuals, but herding breeds, such as terriers, may be more stimulated by moving objects they see on the small screen." Just like us humans, some of us love TV; others prefer a book.

They love seeing other dogs on TV

As stated in National Geographic, "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." So a show with dogs, cats or other wildlife may pique your pup's interest more. National Geographic elaborates "A 2013 study published in the journal Animal Cognition showed that dogs could identify images of other dogs among pictures of humans and other animals, using their visual sense alone." So they know the cast of characters, even if they can't fully follow the plot.

TV designed for dogs

A unique channel, DOGTV, is specially designed for dogs' eyes and ears. According to their website, "DOGTV is a veterinarian-recommended TV channel to treat loneliness, anxiety and depression in dogs." It can be used to entertain your dog, but it can also be used to help your pup while you are gone. It can ease separation anxiety and boredom. It has shows featuring dogs playing on the beach and fetching a ball thrown by their owner. Sounds like some binge-worthy TV for pups!

So the next time you and your pup are watching TV together, you will know what he's thinking. Maybe you can discover a shared favorite show and binge watch together.