What Do Pets See When They Watch Television

What Do Pets See When They Watch Television

Written by Uswa Zainab

In the United Kingdom, a television ad for Bakers dog food, devised and created to fascinate dogs, aired in 2012. The ad contained sounds of high frequency that are not audible to normal human ears. The company intended to attract the attention of dogs so that their owners take a note and buy Bakers dog food for their pet’s next meal.

The idea was good, but it didn’t work well. Most of the dogs didn’t react at all. This showed, perhaps, humans are more susceptible to television commercials than canids (Sing. canis, Latin word for ‘dog’).

Although pets cannot be influenced easily, they are often found interested in television screens, especially reacting to images, sounds, animals, or other dogs. This article stands on what dogs really see when they tune in.

Coming to the color, there is no difference between television and reality for dogs. Dogs have dichromatic vision, they see everything through the span of two colors, yellow and blue; contrarily, humans have trichromatic vision, they can see the full color spectrum. It is also believed that cone cells in dogs’ eyes blur their sight to an extent. Moreover, the mechanism in dogs to process the frame rate, flicker fusion frequency, of screens is different from that in humans. Humans are able to detect movements at 16 to 20 frames per second; on the flip side, dogs need 70 or more frames each second. Modern televisions have a fast frame rate, dogs might enjoy watching such high-definition televisions. However, if they are watching an older TV, they may find it resembling a flipbook or even an electronic flashlight effect. This was about the visuals.

Now, about what you need to know is ‘the content’. Generally, dogs react to the same things that captivate them in a place, such as commands, toys that squeak, or barking. In 2013, a study was published in Animal Cognition. In the study, nine canids were noticed to see if they could distinguish the face of a dog from that of a human or another animal, on a computer screen. With every right choice, the dogs were rewarded with treats. The sample size wasn’t big enough, however, it indicated that a dog can identify another dog on a screen. If a person has a dog as his pet, he might have noticed that a dog suddenly becomes alert when a canis appears on camera.

If a dog used to get delighted on seeing another dog on screen, but then lost attraction, it can be said that they simply became less sensitive to their aspect, realizing that the dog in the image is not going to exit the boundaries of the screen.

Content related to animals other than dogs might not be much exciting. In a study, published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies in 2017, each dog was presented with three different screens having a different view. The dogs didn’t show any specific preference for one screen over the other. When three screens were shown to them at once, they looked apathetic and uneager to watch anything at all.

It was also noted in the study that dogs have a limited attention span to television. Instead of copying humans’ habits, staying on screen for hours, dogs most often prefer to have a glimpse of the screen for a few seconds, although, this behaviour can also be specific to different breeds. Dogs that rely more on smell can, perhaps, be indifferent from those who are bred for hunting. The hunting ones might be attracted by moving objects; the smelling ones might have different interests.

Now, let’s talk about cats. In a 2008 study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 125 rescue cats were provided with a television and made to view it for almost three hours daily. They were divided into five groups and given many different programming to watch, including humans to prey footage to a completely dark screen. Cats, on average, spent 6.1 percent of the total observation time watching the television. When watching TV, most of their attention was aimed at the prey.

As cats are likely to react to the pictures of birds and rats on television, their owners should better not let them watch TV unattended; otherwise, they might have to say hello to a new television. Another way to make sure the cat doesn’t knock the TV down is to secure it to a wall.


It is concluded that dogs and cats are usually more interested in the happenings of real-life rather than those of television. Humans should take a lesson from the limited screen time of the pets.

About the writer:

Miss Uswa Zainab is an apt student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali, one of the distinguished grammarians in the contemporary world. She has gone through his 4-month course on Freelance Creative English Writing and Basic to Advanced Grammar. Pursuing graduation in the field of computer science and studies in English writing, she relishes writing articles and blogs on diverse themes: academic articles – everyday science, current affairs – and creative blogs – technology, beauty, fashion, entertainment, etc.

Name of the Student: Miss Uswa Zainab
Qualifications: BSCS
Total Articles/Blogs: 17
English Coach: Sir Syed Kazim Ali
Course Taken: Creative English Writing & Article Writing

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