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Some dogs just seem to love watching TV. But are they really watching what we see?


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Sources:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1071581916300611
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201106/do-dogs-understand-what-they-are-seeing-television
https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/can-dogs-watch-tv
https://www.dogtv.com/
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150111-animals-dogs-television-pets-science-tv-behavior/
https://theconversation.com/heres-what-dogs-see-when-they-watch-television-65000

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[♩ INTRO ]Does your dog ever seem more excited for the next season of Game of Thrones than you are?

Or, like, weirdly into barking at nature documentaries? If so, like a lot of our Patreon supporters, you might have wondered whether your dog is really watching TV, or if you’re just reading too much into things.

Well, science is here to tell you they are probably watching it. But they aren’t seeing exactly the same thing you are. Some dogs just seem to love watching TV.

Watching habits can vary by breed—some, like hounds, are mostly motivated by smell,so they’re less likely to be interested in the scent-free images on a screen. Herding dogs, on the other hand, tend to get excited when they see movement. So they may be more readily drawn to video.

But regardless of breed, what dogs see on the screen is definitely not what we see. Dogs’ visual systems are much more sensitive to flickering, which helps them perceive movement more efficiently. So, if you were to start flashing a light on and off slowly, then ramp up the speed,you’d stop being able to distinguish the flashes when it’s flickering faster than55 times per second.

A beagle, on the other hand, can see pulses that flash up to around 80 times a second. The image on an old, standard TV screen refreshes about 60 times a second: fast enough that we can’t see the individual pictures, but too slow to fool our furry best friends. So to your pup, your favorite show might look less like video and more like dancing in a very fast strobe light, or thumbing through a flip-book.

And that’s not the only part that might underwhelm them. No matter what type of TV you have, what might look to you like a vibrant, colorful image could be pretty “meh” for your dog. That’s because a typical scene uses a lot of hues they can’t distinguish.

Instead of having three different color receptors in their eyes like us, dogs only have two,so they only see the world in shades of yellow and blue. But if you really want Fido or Spot to be able to enjoy TV with you, science has some tips. There’s nothing you can do about the colors, but you can get a new TV if you’ve been holding out.

On a lot of modern TVs, the image on the screen changes more than 60 times per second. You can also choose shows that your furry best friend will find more engaging. Dogs can be drawn into watching videos by noises they already find intriguing, like barking or toys squeaking.

And unsurprisingly, they seem to like watching other dogs. Which is why we are going to have new SciShow, hosted only by dogs, four dogs, just dogs…That’s it. You’ll want to go for live action, not cartoons—so Lassie, not Clifford.

Dogs are intelligent enough to recognize photos and videos of dogs and other animals, which might be why they don’t respond well to animation— probably don’t look enough like the real thing. But maybe, we have anecdotal report from inside of the studio that it does works at least one dog. If you really want to go all out, there are even satellite TV channels with programming designed for dogs.

The brightness, colors, sounds, and camera angles are specifically chosen to appeal just to them.... What? But if your dog just isn’t interested in TV, don’t sweat it.

Researchers haven’t actually looked to see how screen time affects dogs, so we don’tknow if it has consequences long-term. And you might think your dog is already enough of a couch potato. And in any case they probably be just as happy, maybe happier, if you go on a walk, and that’sgood for you too.

Thanks to Patreon patron Elaine Allen for asking this question, and to everyone who voted for us to answer it. If you have questions for us or want to get cool rewards like access to a monthly blooper reel, we added to it with this episode, you can check out patreon.com/scishow.[♩OUTRO ]