In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, 87% of pet owners say that their pets watch TV.
To an extent, they are correct. However, a dog eyesight is very different than human eyesight, so what your dog is actually “seeing” is quite different from what you’re seeing on the TV screen.
Dogs have an appreciably lower visual acuity then humans. If the typical human eye scores 20/20 on the Snellen eye chart, the typical canine eye would score 20/75. Anything below the 3rd line of the Snellen chart would be a blur to a dog. Therefore, typical domesticated dogs do not depend on fine visual acuity to survive. Source
Here are some of the ways that dogs see things differently than humans, especially with regard to viewing images on a TV screen:
- A dog’s eyesight allows them to see better at night than we do.
The canine visual system is designed to operate well under low light conditions, while the human visual system performs best in bright light. Source
- Dogs also see flickering light better than humans do. That means when watching television where we see one solid screen, dogs see each individual frame.
- Dogs cannot see the actual objects on the TV screen. They simply see the movement and the shapes on the television instead.
- Dogs don’t have the same depth perception that humans have, which also explains how little they can actually see on a TV screen.
A dog’s increased peripheral vision compromises his binocular vision. Where the field of view of each eye overlaps, we have binocular vision, which gives us depth perception. The wider-set eyes of dogs have less overlap and less binocular vision. Dogs’ depth perception is best when they look straight ahead, but is blocked by their noses at certain angles. Source
Most people have vision that is trichromatic (3-color variations). People who are red / green color blind are dichromatic (2-color variations). Dogs’ retinas can distinguish 2 colors. These colors are blue-violet and yellow. Dogs can also differentiate between shades of gray. Dogs are unable to recognize green, yellow, orange, and red. Source
- Dogs can also differentiate the sounds coming from a TV versus those heard in the real world. The sounds coming from the TV seem to be just as entertaining for them as it is for us to watch them responding to the sounds!
Does Your Dog Watch TV?
I still think when I’m watching drag racing my dog is watching right along with me. Maybe it’s the sound that is drawling her to watch television. It’s a sound that she knows from going to the races. When she is watching the races on television, she moves her head as she watches the cars go down the track.
All dogs have different personalities, and therefore all dogs react differently to the things they see on TV. For example, here’s a dog that definitely has a reaction to something she sees on the television screen:
A survey conducted by the American Kennel Club and Iams found that almost 50% of all dogs surveyed showed some interest in the small screen. Source