Friday, May 18, 2012

CAN DOGS SEE TV?


Do dogs watch television?  The people at DOGTV, cable's first television network for dogs, say YES!  But even though they've adjusted the colors and sounds to be exclusively appealing to dogs, I'm a skeptic.

Way back when we didn't have digital televisions, dogs couldn't see television the same way we did.   The screen refresh rate, how many still images appear on the screen, was set at 50 to 60 frames per second,  just above the critical flicker fusion frequency  that humans see.  Because dogs see 70 to 80 or more frames per second, the screen would appear jerky or worse.  Different from one species to the next, flicker fusion frequency is probably related, in an evolutionary sense, to the speed of the prey animals we chased, or how fast we had to out run predators.  Birds see about 300 frames per second.

But even with digital television, video images lack depth cues important to dogs.  A television screen is a two dimensional surface and the images on it are representative of three-dimensional space.   For example, it’s clear to us that in a chase episode, the police car may be a fifth the size of the suspect's vehicle, because it's three  blocks farther away.  On the other hand, it's likely that  if something, a cat for instance, is shown actual life size on the screen, dogs may understand that it is indeed a cat.
Another thing - canine distance vision is poor relative to ours. They can only see at 20 feet what we can clearly see at 80 feet.   Odor and movement more likely determine depth in their vision field.  For example, something 100 feet away on the sidewalk may have the shape of an animal, but if it doesn’t smell like that animal should at that distance, and it doesn’t move, then it may as well be a rock.  

Now that we've digitalized television to accommodate canine flicker fusion frequency problem, it seems to me that we still need to add appropriate depth perception cues and odor enhanced stories.  


But I may be wrong. If you've tried DOG TV  let me know what your dog thinks.



8 comments:

  1. I have never heard of that, will have to see if I can get it.
    One time I had the animal planet on and there was a guy throwing a frisbee on the beach, to his dog. My dog started trying to catch it, took a few times to realize it wasn't going to happen, lol.

    Debbie

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  2. My dog Dot will occasionally look at it for a second if a dog is barking and moving fast across the screen. She always barks when there is a doorbell sound from the TV. We don't have a doorbell so her attention to the sound must be leftover from those people that had her the first year before we got her at the pound...those people that spoiled her so badly.

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  3. My dog has never watched TV, only looked at it when they have animals making sounds she finds interesting - like kittens mewing or puppies making that whimpering almost barking sound. She doesn't even look if they have barking dogs on.

    I have caught my cat sitting in front of the TV watching dog shows however.

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    1. None of my dogs take an interest in what's on TV. I'm wondering of DOGTV catches their interest.

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  4. our Jack Russell terrier watched tv with us. She looked in the direction of the screen, appeared interested, and watched for long periods of time. When an animal (Animal Planet show), or a baby, came into view, she would run up to the tv and jump up trying to nip the image. She went directly to the object of interest and only reacted when these stimuli were displayed. All behavioral indications was that she could see and was interested in the images on tv. When we settled in to watch a show, she would settle in with us, facing the television, and appeared to 'enjoy' watching with us. Her reactions were not based on sound as she would be attracted to animals and babies even if the sound was muted. I have never seen any other breed show so much interest in tv, and I've had lots of dog pets. I half considered modifying the remote to train her to turn the tv on if she do desired. I am confident that it would have worked, but never attempted to do so. Sady our precious Sophie died a couple of years ago, and we still miss her terribly (she was 16 when she died), but in our personal experience neither me nor my wife ever witnessed a dog with such a sustained interest in television.

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  5. What an amazing story. Although I've never lived with one, I've heard JRTs are special dogs. No matter how long our dogs live, it's never long enough.

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    1. Hi I have a minature poodle, Bijoux, and she is constantly watching TV. As soon as any animmal appears on the screen she runs to the TV screen and starts barking and jumping at the screen. The animmal can be a dog, bird, fish whatever. She never reacts to humans on the screen or any other stimuli, just animmals. It doesn't matter whether the animmal is making a sound or not. If I say to her where is the animmal and the TV is on she immediately checks the TV screen. If I am tricking her she does not react but if there is an animmal again she will run up to the screen and bark and jump. As soon as the animmal disappears from the screen she stops but remains attentive in case another animmal should appear. So when we watch an animmal intensive show such as Dr Harry Animmal Vet our house becomes crazy with her antics. My other poodle shows no reaction to the TV at all.

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  6. i have had six dogs one would jump and bark at the tv had animals

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