Strange Behavior Explained: Can Dogs Watch TV and What Do They Really See?

Strange Behavior Explained: Can Dogs Watch TV and What Do They Really See?

Can animals watch tv and what do they see

More than two-thirds of pet parents put the TV on for their dogs while they’re out for the day, and many even claim their pooch has a favorite TV show. At some point, you’ve probably been interrupted by a sudden bark while you were watching something, but the question is can dogs watch TV, and if so, what do they really see?

We’ve previously looked at strange behavior in “why do dogs hump?” and “why do dogs roll on their backs?”, but now we’d like you to join us as we look at all things dogs and television.

Why Does My Dog Watch TV?

Despite his derpy moments, your four-legged friend is a very intelligent creature. An Animal Cognition study found that just like in real life, dogs can visually recognize other dogs on a screen. This wasn’t a simple memory test — even if the participating pooches hadn’t seen a specific dog breed before, they were able to identify it as a fellow canine.

While your dog is perhaps more intelligent than you give him credit for, there are always limitations. It’s not out of the question for a dog to bark at another dog on TV before running behind the back of the TV set to look for it. Whether your dog is aware he is watching television or thinks the dogs he sees on TV are simply hanging out in a strange rectangle remains to be seen.

Why Do Some Dogs Watch TV and Other Dogs Not Watch TV?

Just like humans, dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and most importantly, with different personalities. In an interview with National Geographic, renowned animal behaviorist Nicholas Dodman explained that “whether it’s running around, barking excitedly, or just ignoring it,” the way your dog reacts to TV likely comes down to his personality or breed.

Herding dogs naturally have an attraction to moving objects, so they’re more likely to be interested in the show you’re watching. Hounds and other dogs that have been bred for their sniffing capabilities are less likely to be interested in what’s on the screen.

What Can Dogs See When They Watch TV?

What a dog sees on TV differs from us in two main ways — speed and color.


Dogs' eyes are quite impressive. They can perceive fast-moving things like squirrels or tennis balls a bit slower than we can — meaning they have more time to react and change direction! This “slow motion” vision also means television looks a little different to them.

Humans won’t notice flickering images if a TV’s screen refresh rate is faster than 55 hertz (which means 55 images appear per second). TVs have traditionally put out images at 60 hertz, which is a problem for pooches as they can see flickers up to 75 hertz.

The good news for your dog is that modern HD TVs usually have a refresh rate of 120 hertz, so the moving images they see should appear a lot smoother now.


While dogs may have us beat for speed, their perception of color isn’t quite as impressive.

Dogs have dichromatic vision, which means they see the world in yellows, browns and grays. Our vision is trichromatic, which gives us a full range of colors.

Another cool fact is that dogs have more “rods” in their eyes than we do. These are found in the retina and give pups the power to see very well in the dark!

What Do Dogs Like to Watch on TV?

If you’re wondering what to put on for your pooch while you’re at work, you might be interested in the cable channel DOGTV. Launched in 2012 and claiming to help with separation anxiety and stress, this channel offers a high number of frames per second and is specially colored for dogs.

In 2014, UK dog food brand BAKERS created a “dog-friendly” commercial, complete with high-pitched sounds and dog barks. Still, it remains to be seen if videos for dogs like this are enough to convince pet parents to change brands!

Should You Let Your Dog Watch TV?

Your dog is far more likely to enjoy watching TV with you next to him on the sofa. When he’s on his own he’s probably not too concerned about what images are coming from your set.

Still, if it seems like your dog enjoys watching TV, there’s no harm in putting it on for him — as long as it doesn’t interfere with playtime and outdoor time.

If you’re leaving the TV on while you’re at work, make sure the volume is low and that your dog can get away from the TV if he wants to. Who knows, it might make the time apart pass a little quicker. Another way television can be used is as an alternative to relaxing music, to help distract your dog from loud noises like fireworks or vacuum cleaners.

We’re wondering if your pooch has seen our cool commercial for Canidae® World of Goodness? If not, check out our YouTube channel and show it to him right away!

Or even better, you could treat him to our delicious Goodness recipes. Designed to bring out the best in your dog, these tasty formulas always contain real, antibiotic-free meat as the first ingredient. Antioxidants, probiotics, and omega-6 and 3 are included to support a healthy immune system and digestion.

Why not let him try Real Salmon & Brown Rice? With complete and balanced nutrition and no fillers or artificial preservatives, this one is a doggy favorite, regardless of whether the television is on in the background or not.

Are you ready to transition your dog to Canidae? Learn more here!