Do Dogs Like To Watch TV | What Do They See

Have you ever caught your dog watching TV? What was it that caught their eye? Maybe it was a dog barking on the TV, or something else.  I have always wondered what it is that our dogs are capable of seeing when they look at the TV.  Is every dog the same or does it depend on their personality?  Do dogs like to watch TV?

These are all the burning dog questions that I am going to answer.

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Please see my disclosure.

What do our dogs see

To start, we need to first understand how our dogs see.  We all know that when we see things, we see all the different colors of everything.

Our dogs do not see the same colors that we see.  Human eyes see things in trichromatic, which really means our eyes are made up of 3 cones within our retina.  These 3 cones allow us to see all the colors that we see.

A dog sees things in dichromatic, which means that they have only 2 cones.  They see things in browns, yellows and gray tones.  They are missing the red and green ones.

Each type of cone registers a different light wave length. When we look at humans, we do see the reds and greens. This is of course unless you are red green color blindness like my dad.  Many people are color blind.  They just see things different from the rest of us.

This is the same for dogs.  It is not that they don’t see color, it is just that they don’t see all the colors that we see.

Visually a dog processes things much faster than we do.  That is how they are able to see things like a squirrel darting across the yard, before we are even able to see it.

Dogs definitely are capable of seeing other dogs on the TV screen.  In 2013 a study was published in the journal Animal Cognition which says that dogs really are capable of seeing images of other dogs.

Whether it’s a dog that looks like them or a totally different dog, they definitely can see other dogs on the TV.

Does sound bring make them watch

Does your dog bark when the doorbell rings on the TV?

Research has shown that sound can attract our dogs to the TV.  It can be a dog barking or a commercial that shows an owner calling or praising their dog.  Maybe even a specific dog toy commercial that squeaks a toy.

Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be a dog at all, it could be a cat meowing on a commercial that attracts your dog to dart to the front of the TV.

A veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman at Tufts University believes that dogs can perceive sounds and images coming from the TV.

dog in tv

I can 100% say that even Boo that doesn’t have any interest in TV, will bark when the doorbell rings on TV.  So he may not watch the TV, but the sound does definitely grab his attention.

When we go to work every day, we always leave the TV on for our dogs, just to make it seem like they aren’t alone. The other reason for leaving the TV on is if we leave them in complete silence we worry that every little sound that happens outside, may result in the dogs barking.  Nobody wants their dogs to bark all day, even if it comes from inside the house.

As we know, certain sounds can actually calm your dog down.  Whether it is separation anxiety or just keeping them from utter silence, sound does play a part in how are dogs behave.

Are different breeds more likely to watch TV

Just like people and culture, not everyone is interested in the same things.  This is the same for dogs, not every dog or dog breed has the same interests.

For example my dog Finn is a Doodle and he loves to watch TV.  Our other dog BOO who is a Cockapoo, could really careless.  He has absolutely not interested in watching the picture on the TV.

Finn is mesmerized by seeing another dog on TV.  It doesn’t even matter if it is a dog cartoon or not, he right away moves up close to the TV so he can watch.  He will run from another room just to get to the TV to see what is going on.


But dogs seem to watch TV more than they used to before.  Why is that?  What’s changed?

Part of the main reason for the big change is due to the innovation of High Definition TV.

Now that we have HDTV it offers the TV picture at higher frames per second which fits dogs vision very well.  The specially colored pictures also suits with dogs dichromatic vision.  Hence why they seem to now have more of an interest in TV at all.

Malcolm Welshman the former veterinarian at the London Zoo did some research to see if certain dog breeds were more interesting in watching TV.  What he found through his study was that hunting dogs that are used to responding to visual cues showed way more interest in watching TV.

Dogs like Whippets and Terriers fall into this category.  In contrast dogs that are led by their nose and sense of smell like a Hound dog, were way less interested in what was on the tube. LOL!

Programming just for our dogs

With science, we do know that dogs can become engaged in watching TV, but do they care what they watch?  For us of course we have our favourite shows and we keep coming back.  Do dogs care what they watch?

Yes dogs do find shows or specific commercials that they always react to when it comes on the TV.

Like everything, once discovered, companies always seem to find a way to have that work to their advantage.  Now, HGTV has even started a DOGTV channel, specifically for dogs.  They even tailor their channel with the colors that dogs see best.

Before HGTV actually launched DOGTV Ron Levi from the network reached out to animal experts and conducted studies in dog homes throughout New York and L. A to see the viewing habits of dogs.

The way they did this was to leave a security camera running in the home with the TV on or off to see what interest the canines actually had with regular programming vs DOGTV.

The results showed that dogs paid way more attention to DOGTV than other channels. This was due to the coloring and content that DOGTV puts on their channel.

One other thing that they found was if you match the right picture with the right sound, 72 % of dogs were more relaxed.

We do know that certain sounds are proven to actually relax your dog.  Whether it is separation anxiety or just a nervous dog the best way to calm down this type of behavior is to have the right sound coming from the TV.  DOGTV knows this and has ensured that they tailor their programming accordingly.

DOGTV today is shown in over 15 countries and is in 120 million houses.  In some places it is part of the basic cable package, while in others, it is an additional add-on channel to your package.

Dog’s and TV

Through all the research that has been done in answering the question:  Do dogs like to watch TV, we have learnt many things along the way.

We now know that some dogs actually do like to watch TV.

For some dog breeds more than others of course their is genuine interest in dogs watching TV.  Some technology changes within TV’s has made it much easier for dogs to see the picture while realizing that certain sounds can also grab their attention.

Like everything else with dogs, their is no golden rule whether your dog will be a TV watcher or not.  Just look at my 2 dogs who are both 1/2 Poodles.  One does show interest in the TV, while the other really could careless.

Each dogs personality really will be the difference when it comes to answering this question about dogs and the TV.

We have come so far already with dogs having their own TV channel now that is made just for them.  By simply focusing on the right color choices and the right sounds has made the ultimate change in keeping your dogs attention on the TV.

I wonder what will be next?


4 thoughts on “Do Dogs Like To Watch TV | What Do They See”

  1. Hi! This is interesting. I had noticed that dogs can stay staring at a screen but I wondered what they saw. Could they possibly be seeing things on a screen as we see them.

    This post has answered most of my questions. It’s fun to know that they could actually enjoy it and it all comes down to their personal preferences.

    I really enjoy your site. Keep on posting interesting content as this one! Thanks!

    • Hi Henry,

      I really want to thank you for your positive comments on my posts. It is so great to hear that you enjoyed reading my posts. 

      I love dogs so much, it is really rewarding to be able to share my knowledge with anyone that is even remotely interested in dogs.

      Thank you Henry.


  2. From what i read in the post, Dogs can see pictures on TV the same manner in which we do, and they are clever enough to perceive onscreen pictures of creatures as they would in real life, even never they’ve never seen—and also recognizes dog sounds, such as barking. DOGTV provides television for dogs as a 24/7 digital TV channel with dog – friendly programing scientifically developed to provide the right company for dogs when left alone.

    Nice writeup Coralie

    • Hello Jordan,

      I really appreciate your feedback on my post. It is so interesting to hear what people think when they learn something new about what dogs are really capable of seeing and doing.

      They are such amazing animals and I am glad that you found some interesting things about dogs that surprise you.

      Thanks again.



Leave a Comment