What dogs really see when they watch TV.
Ever watched to see your dog’s reaction when other dogs are on the TV? Or (be honest now) covered their eyes when something that might upset them comes on screen? Well it turns out that dogs do prefer certain images and videos.
By tracking their vision researchers have identified that dogs have a preference for watching other canines on screen. A 2013 study proved that dogs can even pick out the faces of other dogs among human and other animal faces on TV.
But sound is what attracts them to the screen in the first place. The most popular sounds include dogs barking or whining, toys squeaking or humans giving commands and praise.
And they don’t see exactly what we see. Canine eyes register images much faster than ours so images on older television sets would appear to flicker from their perspective. Modern, high definition television has many more frames per second which may have improved the way dogs perceive the images on screen.
The colour question…
Humans have trichromatic vision, meaning we perceive colour in a range of three colours – red, blue and yellow. Dogs see in two primary colours — only yellow and blue, which means images with lots of these colours are more appealing.
With very short attention spans (no surprises there) and eyes that are highly attuned to movement, dogs are multi-taskers, tending to glance at images rather than focus on them as a human does.
They’re also terrible couch companions. Dogs tend to be active watchers, running between the TV and their humans. Some will bark at movement on screen and others will run behind the TV to make sure that lion isn’t going to jump out at them…
What to do with all this science?
Why start a TV channel for dogs of course!
DogTV was created to provide visually appealing, canine-specific content to entertain and comfort dogs while their humans are out. There are videos containing snippets (for the short attention span, remember?) of dogs running on the beach, lush landscapes and ocean swims — all with the yellows and blues bumped up for maximum enjoyment.
New Zealanders are increasingly humanising our pets with clothing, expensive collars and ‘doggy daycare’. So we have to ask – is this a channel too far? What do you think?
Of course we could always ask Nelly.