Often, the last step on our way out the door is to click on the TV, so pets don’t feel like they are alone. Owners can spot Fido staring intently at the show they are watching, and sometimes they even bark back when Rin Tin Tin reruns come on.
Some owners might ask; do pets even benefit from having the television going? If dogs do, how can owners choose programs that stimulate pets while they are gone? 2 Paws Up Inc. did the research and is here with the results.
Which Dogs Respond to Television?
The facts are in; some dogs are fully capable of watching television when the subject matter interests them. All dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than they do vision, seeing the colors of yellow and blue most clearly handicaps them a little. Dogs who are most likely to watch TV also have better vision, such as Greyhounds, Whippets, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. These breeds, among others, were bred to hunt by sight and speed, so would be able to track motion on television much easier than a bloodhound.
Not all dogs will show interest in television. Breeds with the best eyesight are most likely to respond to a TV being left on for them as opposed to breeds who use mostly scent. To test this, show your dog videos of dogs barking and running. If your dog shows an interest in YouTube videos or Animal Planet episodes, chances are they would enjoy some digital companionship.
What are Dogs Responding To?
A dog will be most interested in exciting stimuli, such as other dogs running, dogs barking, or dogs socializing. When the dog shows interest in another pet running through a field barking, they will try to interact with the video as they would in real life; by barking and trying to sniff or approach it. When faced with a new experience, a dog would normally do exploratory behaviors; sniffing, barking, approaching. It is likely that a dog would lose interest once these exploratory behaviors stayed one-sided.
Once a dog loses interest in TV, they are less likely to pay attention to it so that an ideal TV program would have constantly changing subjects.
How to Use Television in Training
Knowing which dogs will respond to TV and what they are interested in is one thing, but knowing how to use this interest to your advantage can be a game-changer. If your dog is a habitual watcher, including a television in your training habits, can give you an extra edge.
If your dog has separation anxiety when you leave your home, try recording your family during social interactions, such as dinner or when having friends over. When leaving for a short time, put this taped encounter on your television. Hearing your voices and the sound of humans in the home can distract your dog from destructive behaviors, and your immediate return before they can lose interest in the recording interrupts the anxiety loop. Start making your trips from home longer and longer while playing this tape to help your pet ease their separation anxiety.
If your pet barks like a maniac every time, the garbage man comes by (or postal worker, or Girl Scout entrepreneurs, etc.) try making a tape with several visits from this aggravating visitor. Play this video on repeat so that your dog hears the sounds of the approaching truck or person and can see them approaching on the TV. By getting your dog used to the sounds of this guest without them invading their territory, they will become less likely to respond to it in real life. The mad barking that wakes the dead will become less and less likely as you play the tape.
These training aids are only a few of the several ways you can incorporate television into your pets’ life. Even if your dog shows no interest in the TV, there is no harm in leaving it on. Maybe your pet will still get a few benefits when it comes to screen time, and maybe it is only you who will get peace of mind while you are away. Either way, it is worth the extra screen time.
Do you have any funny stories about your dog interacting with your TV? Please share them in the comments! We, at 2 Paws Up Inc Pet Sitting, Dog Walking, and Dog Training would love to hear your story!