Our furkids perceive images on television in a way that’s similar to the way we do, and they are intelligent enough to recognise images of animals onscreen as they would in real life— even animals they've never seen before — and to recognise animal-related sounds, like barking and meowing.
Can dogs identify images of other dogs?
A 2013 study published in the journal Animal Cognition concluded that dogs could identify images of other dogs among pictures of humans and other animals, using their visual sense alone.
They exposed the pooches to diverse stimuli: Images of dog faces, and images of non-dog species from 40 different animal species—including domestic and wild animals, even humans.
Overall, the dogs were shown more than 144 pairs of pictures to select from. It was then observed whether the nine hounds could discriminate any type of dog from other species, and could group all dogs together, whatever their breed, into a single category.
According to their results, all the furry subjects were able to group all the images of dogs within the same category.
Dogs See Dogs
Dogs have dichromatic vision, meaning that they see a range of two primary colours: Yellow and blue. Humans, on the other hand, have trichromatic vision, which means that we see the full range of colours.
However, there are some differences between ourselves and man's best friend—for one, dogs' eyes register images more quickly than ours. So older television sets, which show fewer frames per second than modern televisions, would appear to a dog to be flickering like a 1920s movie.
There might be other reasons behind Fido’s reaction to television, be it running about and barking excitedly or just feigning ignorance—this might actually be a result of his personality or type of breed.
For example, Bloodhounds—a breed that is driven by smell—would not be as interested in visuals, but herding breeds like terriers might be stimulated by moving objects they see on the small screen.
DogTV is an HDTV cable channel designed especially for dogs, and it captures their attention due to the higher number of frames per second displayed on a screen. The colour treatment of shows on DogTV is also specially altered to accommodate Fido’s dichromatic vision.
There is a total of three modes on DogTV: Relaxation, stimulation, and exposure. Relaxation displays images of dogs unwinding on a grassy field; stimulation shows scenes of dogs taking a surf in California, and exposure depicts a dog reacting to specific sounds and obeying commands—this helps to season them to similar situations at home.
However, as of now, DogTV is only available in 13 countries around the world, including the US, the UK, Japan, and China.
*This article was updated on 23 Jul 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com on 14 Dec 2016.