We've already written about whether or not dogs can see images on TV (kind of a no-duh thing for dog owners!), but not until recently have we learned exactly what dogs prefer to watch, and how they watch it.
Thankfully for us dog-loving laymen, scientists conducted research around this very question using vision tracking methods (the same used to gauge interest among humans) to discover what onscreen images grab the attention of domesticated dogs the most. Any guesses? You might be thinking: squirrels, people, cats, or other dogs. Well, if you guessed other dogs, you'd be right. Turns out (unsurprisingly) that pooches love seeing shows about their own kind.
However, their attention spans are limited, so chances are they won't be binge-watching the entire first season of Stranger Things with you any time soon. They prefer their TV in very small doses, with the perfect episode of a TV series for dogs falling somewhere between 3 to 4 seconds. Yep, seconds.
Research also suggests that it isn't the images, but the sounds that first attract the dogs to entertainment devices like TVs, computers, iPads, etc. And the noises most likely to make Rover stop and take notice are: dogs whining and barking; humans giving standard dog commands and words of praise (e.g. "that's a good boy/girl!") in a friendly voice; and good ol' squeaky toys.
Another thing they found out is that dogs watch TV kind of the way that die-hard sports fans do. That is, dogs typically like to interact with what they see on TV — often walking up to the screen for a closer look and as well as getting all worked up over what they see.
The next logical question here is: are dogs actually enjoying themselves when they watch TV? That's a complex question that researchers are still working on. Complex because even if scientists discover that some shows make dogs "happy" while others make them feel "distressed," this doesn't mean that they aren't being entertained. After all, we watch shows and movies with "distressing" images all the time (Dexter, anyone?), yet us weird humans feel entertained. But that's a question for another study!
Main image: Twenty20