A TV channel explicitly aimed at canine viewers launched in Israel earlier this year, following a successful launch here in the States. But can dogs actually see what's happening on a TV?
The BBC asked Stanley Coren, professor emeritus in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia and expert on the subject of the dog-human relationship, for help answering that question. (We've previously talked to Coren about domesticated foxes and whether animals dream.) His answer? Sure, dogs can watch TV, but it depends on a few optic factors as well as the temperament of the dog itself.
Refresh rate is the term that's most important here--it refers to the speed at which an image is replaced by the next image on the screen. The first HDTVs had a refresh rate of 60Hz, meaning the screen draws 60 pictures each second. Our eyes can be fooled by about 50Hz, so we see a continuous moving picture. If you drop below that, we start to see flickering, like in a flip-book.
Dogs (and cats, though they're not mentioned in the BBC article) have much sharper eyes than we do; dogs will still see that flicker up until about 75Hz. Luckily, newer TVs have much higher refresh rates, so you can grab a TV with a 120Hz, 240Hz, or even higher refresh rate. That's needed for a dog to identify the picture as moving and not as a series of still images.
Positioning also seems to be important for dogs. They won't pay much attention to TVs that are placed at the eye level of humans, since they're not used to looking up there. TVs for dogs typically have to be placed on the ground for the dog to investigate and watch. And certain shots or styles of video are of more or less interest to dogs, too; videos that are shot low to the ground tend to hold a dog's interest more, as do shots of animals (but not cartoon animals).
Helpful tips if you want your dog to share your interests! "Have a seat, Barkley. Game of Thrones is on." Truly man's best friend.
Also, dogs perceive colors differently than humans. They have only two "primary" colors vs our three. And their visible part of the spectrum is shifted into the ultraviolet.
I have a West Highland White Terrier who is currently about 15. Since she was about 3 or 4 she would watch t.v. whenever my parents or myself were watching also. Not "tuned in" so to speak, but she would absolutely recognize what was going on. Any animals (dogs, cats, moose, lions, monkeys) and some violence would cause her to run at the t.v., while barking. The t.v., which was on a wooden entertainment stand (that was also used to stack vinyl records vertically, so approximately 20"-22" high) was an old 36" CRT of some type. She still to this day does it, on a newer LCD, even though she is now completely deaf.
Yes me and my Yorkies watch TV together. But they draw the line at reading PoPSCi because of all the spam.
I refute the statements in this article. My dog is a sheltie/blue heeler mix and she has watched tv since she was a puppy. She sees every animal whether it is real or cartoon. She even knows a lion silhouette for a legal firm. She will also react to something that I was not watching and I can ask her different animal names and she will only react to one. I rewind the dvr and she is right.
She also knows the audio and will run to the tv if her favorite commercial is playing. Her favorite animals are bears and horses. My other dog will only react once in a while if dogs are on tv.
"Our eyes can be fooled by about 50Hz"
Thats so stupid. Every single thing on TV and every single movie is under 30hz. Youre saying everyone whose ever watched a movie felt like they were watching a slideshow? No. Continuous motion happens at around 25hz, or lower, depending on the medium and method presented.
That is 30 frames per second not 30hz.
... ok, I just signed up for POPSCI to add my two cents on the frame rate thing ...
I did classical animation in college ...
typically a cartoon / film is shot @ 24 frames per second.
TV shows are typically shot up around 36 frames per second.
Anywho ... from wikipedia:
"The hertz (symbol Hz) is the unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI). It is defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon"
Hertz is Cycles per SECOND.
also, some projectors used multiple shutters running at a higher rate to give the impression of 48 frames per second or even 72.
in short, i think we can all agree that the higher the speed, the smoother and more fluid the images will be.
My dog watchs TV all the time (Australian Shepherd). She actually memorized commercial jingles so even if she's in another room or sleeping, she'll come in barking if she hears the jingle and remembers it as one with an animal in it. And she most certainly does recognize cartoon animals
Dogs and cats gave up the independence of wild animals for the protection of man. They did so by figuring out what we are thinking and becoming important to us, either by playing at being cute, or doing some sort of chore. My OPINION is every pet, to a greater or lesser extent, is therefore able to watch TV, depending upon the animal type, breed, age, and what is portrayed.
My cat saki showed a lot of interest in flipper, but then totally ignored other shows. My dog boone will react to the TV, but it's not his thing either. My guess is if you put a TV in a cage with a wolf, he might look at it out of boredom, but he's totally ignore it in a big enough enclosure.
Random Factor, you rock.
I have 3 border collies. The male watches TV when he's bored. he really watches and seems to follow the action (not the plot, lol). He loves to see other animals, and always barks at the MGM Lion. He has favorite commercials that he'll run to the tv to watch. I love to watch him watch tv. He gets pretty animated. He hates to see people fighting. He's a great dog!
The two girls don't seem to get it. One will bark/growl if there are animal noises or certain other sounds (doorbells, etc.), the other one, suprisingly the smartest of my three dogs, doesn't get it at all. Can't understand why. Dogs!
I wrote mine it disappeared into cyberspace.