Whole Dog Journal's Blog March 31, 2015

Dogs Watching TV

Posted at 08:40AM - Comments: (38)

Another canine fan of nature shows.

None of my dogs have ever watched TV. So I was frankly dubious about my sister’s claims that her dogs go crazy every time a certain pizza commercial comes on; she told me that when the dogs hear the pizza commercial music, they come running to the TV, and they leap in the air and whine when the close up shot of the pizza appears, where the single slice is pulled away from the sizzling hot pie and tendrils of cheese are stretched through the air. But why the pizza commercial, I asked? She said they always share pizza with their dogs, and they really like it! Hmm, I said.

Until I was at her house and witnessed the pizza commercial phenomenon for myself. Her two Jack Russell Terriers were snoozing on the couch and the TV was playing in the background while my sister and I talked. Suddenly, both dogs sat up and fixed their gazes on the TV. “Ha! It’s Round Table time,” my sister laughed. The dogs tilted their heads this way and that until the close up, when they both leaped off the couch and jumped in the air in front of the TV, as if they could somehow grab a slice of the pie out of the air for themselves. I was flabbergasted. Did they really recognize the pixelated vision as something they’d like to eat?

Not long after this, I was interviewing a dog owner at her home. She and her two lovely standard Poodles met me at the door, and I fussed over the well-mannered, healthy dogs for a bit. But when we prepared to sit at the dining room table to do our interview, she brought the dogs into the adjoining living room, and turned on the TV. The dogs jumped up onto her sofa and lay down, and she told me, “I’ll just put on a nature show for them. They’ll stay out of our way for a while.” I laughed, not sure if she was joking, but when she tuned the television to a PBS channel showing a forest scene, both dogs sat up, transfixed. They scanned the screen, clearly looking for whatever animal might appear in the scene. And when the camera panned the sky, taking in a picture of a bird flying across the forest canopy, one of the dogs barked in excitement. “Now, now,” my interviewee warned her dogs. “If you get too excited I will change the channel.” They seemed to understand, because both dogs lay down again, and we left the room. Again, if I hadn’t seen it for myself, I never would have believed it.

It was clear that my dog, Otto, had never been in a house before the summer day in 2008 when my husband and I adopted him from my local shelter. He jumped at every household noise, including the change of the washing machine cycles and the microwave’s “ready” ding. But he paid no attention to the TV, until about a week after we brought him home, a commercial featuring the Geico caveman came on. Some noise made him look at the TV, and when he saw the caveman’s hairy face, he jumped to his feet and started backing out of the room, growling and then barking, hackles raised. As soon as the caveman was no longer on the screen, he came back into the living room and lay back down. And he never did this again. The only thing he responds to on TV now is the sound of a doorbell. That will always make him growl and at least look toward the door, if not jump to his feet and bark at the door.

Do your dogs watch TV? Do they have favorite shows?

Comments (38)

My familys pitbull,rotwiler, and boxer mix used to lay on the couch and watch tv and the black lab puppy we have now has always popped up when the flam grilled hot dog commercial comes on and the guy yells "Flame grilled hotdogs here"

Posted by: Norton koob | July 7, 2016 1:08 PM    Report this comment

I had one dog who loved the Westminster Dog Show. The dogs I have now, 2 Jack Russells (one a birthday gift, the other a puppy mill mama rescue) and my silver double dapple Dachshund (a shelter rescue) love Chopin. The nocturnes relax them when I have to leave the house. The waltzes make one of my Jacks want to dance with me. She also likes to dance to Jazz and Michael Buble's music. They only respond to TV when they hear a door knock or other dogs barking, but they enjoy good music.

Posted by: Mama56 | April 3, 2015 3:00 PM    Report this comment

We have had fourteen dogs since the early 80's, including nine Bulldogs. Until the ninth Bulldog, we had never encountered this phenomenon. Bella, our soon to be two year old Bulldog, cannot stand windshield wiper commercials and does not appear to like college football. Every time ANY windshield commercial comes on, she jumps off the sofa, races to the entertainment center, puts her front paws on the front and barks at the television until I change the channels. She will occasionally attack when there is a football game on, but not always. I don't know if she just dislikes certain uniform colors or is just messing with me!

Posted by: Ken %26 Debbie Perkins | April 2, 2015 7:20 PM    Report this comment

I find our Choc Lab staring at the TV, not sure if it's motion or a noise that may have triggered it. ALL our Labs have always reacted to the bag pipe. At our previous home I had to bring the Yellow in when the young girl two doors away would practice it outside....Cassie would bark and bark. The Black lab and existing Choc react to them on TV during funeral scenes.

Posted by: rescuesaveslives | April 2, 2015 9:28 AM    Report this comment

My Australian shepherd/border collie mix watched TV with me. She would always jump up and try to get at the dogs she saw on TV, even stick-figure dogs. I could understand her noticing the real dogs, but I couldn't figure out how she knew the difference between a stick-figure person and a stick-figure dog. Another funny thing she did: she could be in a dead sleep, but when the music to certain commercials featuring dogs came on (an attorney with a dog and the Beggin' Strips commercial), she would wake up and jump up and attack the TV. My current dog doesn't notice anything on TV. I miss having to momentarily change the station to keep the TV from being wrecked by my previous dog. I don't expect my current dog to learn that behavior; my previous dog did that from day one, and as aggravating as it was at the time, I do miss it.

Posted by: Zellybelly | April 1, 2015 2:28 AM    Report this comment

I only have two dog tv experiences. My current dog reacted during the Walking With Dinosaurs dvd. A predator dinosaur in attack mode filled the tv screen, and my dog looked up and slowly rose into her attack stance. I turned off the screen immediately. The second tv experience happened during the 20 years that I lived without a tv. My mutt came with me to visit family, and all the people gathered into one room, sat on chairs and faced the tv in the corner of the room. My mutt walked into the room, looked at all the people, then walked right in front of the tv set, sat down and faced everybody. She had no idea what the tv was, and couldn't figure out why everybody was staring silently at one corner of the room.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | April 1, 2015 12:17 AM    Report this comment

Several months ago I was watching a documentary on the poaching of elephants in Africa and in one scene, there was one elephant that was obviously upset, it was explained, with the camera crew, because of recent poaching to her herd. She had recently become very wary of humans since the poachings. She was swaying back & forth, her ears flapping back & forth, and her trunk swinging from side to side and she was making so much noise. One of my Goldens awakened from a sound sleep, ran to the TV and started acting very upset and even started whimpering. It was as if she felt the pain of the elephant....so much that I felt I had to change the channel. Any time there's any type of animal on TV, she'll jump from her bed or from wherever she is to be there right in front of the TV......and always showing emotion. It doesn't have to be a dog or cat......it can be a dolphin, a whale breaching, an eagle flying, any type of creature. If I'm on my computer and watching a video with any animals on it, as soon as she hears the noises, she'll run over to wherever I am with my lap top, and she's just got to see what's on the screen. Sometimes, she'll even start her crying or whimpering sounds! Surprisingly, though, my other 3 Goldens could care less. I'm really convinced that there's some sort of feeling and she really has some connection with what she's seeing on that screen. It's a very emotional thing to watch.

Posted by: Goldens4 | April 1, 2015 12:17 AM    Report this comment

I had a Rottie mix who loved to watch TV. His favorite movies were Dances with Wolves and Seabiscuit. He knew the music to commercials that had animals (especially horses) and would always perk up and watch when they came on. Now we have a female Boxer who also likes to watch TV. She will watch animals run off the edge of the screen and look for them behind the TV. She will also watch videos on the computer or iPad. Our male Boxer has no idea what she is doing and tries to get between her and the TV.

Posted by: pattylu | March 31, 2015 11:44 PM    Report this comment

One final comment people. Dog TV is intended for entertainment. The psychology here, is directed, at you. I am sorry if your need to believe your dog's are "watching" TV is your motivation to pay for the service and delude yourselves, into falsehoods. This lIke everything else, is about, the people, not the dogs. Have you ever tried to understand the reason(s) a dog "stares"at you? Do you get it, when the trainer tells you the attention span of your fog, is severely limited, that the dog for a not think so deeply, a human condition. They live literally, in the moment, time aldo, a human condition. We want the very best for our dogs. No argument. They need US. That, is the very best for our dogs, maybe we should, give them more of that. Not conscience aleaving contrivance and program more time to da center with our dogs. This I can promise rewarding and will "pay" you, with dividends for years to come. Play with your dog.

Posted by: Just Ritche | March 31, 2015 11:18 PM    Report this comment

Do not know what is happening to my wording, but the site, is THROUGH A DOGS EAR. My apologies.

Posted by: Just Ritche | March 31, 2015 10:57 PM    Report this comment

DOGA DO NOT SEE COLORS. NO TRUTH HERE. SHADES OF GRAY CONTRASTS NOTHING MORE. VETERINARY OPTHAMOLOGY. The sound "effects" may be heard, but I would caution the "psyco-bable" being touted, by "Dog TV" The music may not be dedicated to the auditory channeling required to have a positive effect. That, is to say; Not intended to elicit a neuro response beneficial to your dog. Any, loud and/or mechanical devising is most assuredly for entertainment value (yours). If the sound were, in any way properties to be threapudic, Dog TV would be obligated to disclose it. The cost of the science, behind music analysis and recording for threapudic benefit and the requirements of "Dog T V" to gain market share audience favor, would most likely be prohibitive to profit. The song and "dance" here, is for a following, all the way, to the bank. Do your homework. It'a not called yhd"boob-tubd" for nothing. They send their dollars for research into mind-set passiveness, hours engaged (yours, not the dogs) advertisement and survey studies. To gain important data and insight, on the viewer and their hoped compliance to accept, on the face the offering touted and accept the explanation and solicitation, as gospel. Never shop, on an empty stomach. Buyer beware.

Posted by: Just Ritche | March 31, 2015 10:54 PM    Report this comment

It, is true dogs can and do follow motion, but as to understanding what they see and remember sight, is not their strongest sense. Sound, is yet, anothet subject for which dome science can be spoken to (pin intended) To bette understand sound from a Canine focus. One, might, like this link This site, is deadI cared to Sound, as benefiting fogs and the science behind it. Music and technology join forces to effect and challenge behaviors and health issues plaguing our csnines. Worth a listen.

Posted by: Just Ritche | March 31, 2015 10:28 PM    Report this comment

Why, would you post this nonsense? This, would have been, an opportunity for Whole Dog Journal to play educator to the loyal paying following of this journal. There, is much to be taught here. Biology, to start and then, mabye a short behavioural snap-shot. Dog TV relies, on such mis-conceptions to ensnare the trusting and under-educated dog fancier. Follow the money or just, the science behind Through A Dog's Ear. Yes. The dogs are "reacting" to stimuli, emitting from the "boob-tube" but,...here's where, that education I eluded to could have played-in nicely. Whole Dog Journal, is a trusted source of knowledge and advice to it'a devotees. Please. Do not go down this path. Some uninitiated may, trust the present station, as worthy and carry the mis-information to the mid-midguided. Whole Dog Journal must be held to a higher responsibility and standard to it's readers. I have followed and endorsed the membership and information contained, within it'a pages for many, almost countless years and dogs. I desire to take away from those pages informative and reliable insights and research, along with the charm of it'a review authors and the products "tested" by their canine quality controllers. I love reading the casr evaluations and feed-back. Food lists and informative breed and other, articles, on heslth, training and more,...my since hope, this continues.

Posted by: Just Ritche | March 31, 2015 10:18 PM    Report this comment

I have read that dogs can see the new high definition tvs because they are so fast.
We have an old tv and my collie responds to dogs barking on tv but doesn't seem interested in watching the screen.

Posted by: jschmitz48@hotmail.com | March 31, 2015 8:26 PM    Report this comment

My dog Emma, a Golden Retriever, would always watch TV. We had two other Goldens but she was the only interested in the animals on TV. Anytime an animal was on the TV, she would go crazy, jumping up and watching so intently. The other two would look at her like she was crazy. She especially liked the Puppy Bowl but we would have to turn it off after a while since she would lunge at the TV if the pups got too excited. We lost Emma a few years back and miss everything, including her TV watching.

Posted by: truckeetree | March 31, 2015 7:47 PM    Report this comment

There is actually channel called "DogTV" that specializes in programming specifically for dogs! It's reallly incredible - apparenly a lot of research went into each of the different programming segments to make the viewing more interesting to dogs. Case in point, the color schemes of the filming is geared specifically towards the spectrum of colors dogs see distinctly. Also ALL filming is done from a dogs point of view, i.e. low to the ground. My dogs will periodically watch it - but I really like having it on while I'm gone because even if the dogs don't want to watch, I feel the psychoacoustics of the musical accompaniment provide some stimulation/relaxation as well.

Posted by: TootieToots | March 31, 2015 4:33 PM    Report this comment

Our chocolate brown Standard Poodle, Ally, loved television. At first, she would try to find the dog that had ran off the screen behind the television. Once she figured out the dog wasn't hiding back there, she would relax and watch. Generally, when commercials came on, she would sit back waiting for the regular to continue. Once it did, she would sit back upright and watch without budging. She would sit on the hassock watching entire movies with us, even those with few or no animals.

Posted by: Prentiss | March 31, 2015 4:06 PM    Report this comment

We have a rescue Scottie. She is only 12 lbs, about half the weight of a "normal" Scottie. She regularly watches TV. If she sees other animals on the screen, cars or animation she goes nuts. Barking and spinning around. At first it is cute and adorable, as is she but after a while it gets trying. We have to be careful of what we watch when she is in the room. Our other three dogs, one Scottie and two Goldens have no reaction at all to the TV.

Posted by: Goldens Rule | March 31, 2015 2:47 PM    Report this comment

I got dogtv channel for my yellow Lab's 8th birthday. "Jack" never paid much attention to TV but I thought he might like this station created just for dogs, and I was curious to see it. The timing was perfect because one week after his birthday Jack was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. It was early October and the oncologist told us there was a chance he might not live to Thanksgiving, 2013. Fast forward, Jack is still here, 91/2 years old and thriving. I credit prayer, 2000mg DHE a day, raw duck diet, 9 Chinese herbs from the vet, acupuncture and chiropractic, but a big factor in my mind was his dogtv. He doesn't so much watch it, as listen to it. I don't know what's in the sound, but he transforms immediately when it comes on. We have doggie relaxation recordings but this is different. I've never seen him behave this way anywhere else. He stretches out, snores deeper than I've ever heard him. We have throat noise "conversations". It's the most special and healing times we have now. He has "told" me that there is too much talking in most times with people, including me. He likes us being and experiencing together with this background. And the music and visuals are not bad for me, either!

Posted by: auntiesharon | March 31, 2015 2:23 PM    Report this comment

My border collie X Springer spanielm Dash loved any show with animals in it. His favorite shows were dog shows where he would lay and watch then when certain dogs where on screen he would get up run to the TV whine and softly bark, while his whole back end wagged. He would look back at me like " isn't that the most beautiful dog?, it should win" He also got very excited when Agility events came on and once again would be right there at the screen making his comments. Yes he did agility himself and loved it.

Posted by: Dashdog | March 31, 2015 1:45 PM    Report this comment

My b&t coonhound Rachael used to have a particular bark for the arrival of the UPS truck. One night -- after UPS deliver hours -- she was sleeping, woke up and gave the UPS-truck bark while looking at the TV. Sure enough, there was a UPS truck on the screen.

Posted by: Jessie | March 31, 2015 1:30 PM    Report this comment

I have a Bull Mastiff Vinny that also watches TV. We can no longer have him
in the same room with a view of the TV. He has lunged at the television leaving his nose print on the screen. While at my parents he watches cowboy show through the patio window with my Dad. And he still goes bananas over the horses and cows, dogs. I used to leave animal planet on for the Bulldogs. It never seem to bother them. Until Vinny so I put on the Food Network on, and, again with the excitement of the dogs on the commercials.

Posted by: hulaflygirl | March 31, 2015 12:55 PM    Report this comment

Although my dogs pretty much ignore the TV, I did have a cat one time that really enjoyed a particular nature program that showed lions catching and eating their prey in Africa. Both my husband and I noticed and remarked on this, telling the cat not to get any ideas.

Posted by: AB in AR | March 31, 2015 12:41 PM    Report this comment

I also have a Welsh Terrier, and JudyU's comment made me do a double take -- that I didn't write it! Ha! I have two Welsh Terriers and one loves to watch TV, computer videos and video on my phone! He also enjoys the Life of Pi movie and Geico commercials. Of course he prefers programs with animals, but other times watches cartoons and all kinds of things. He doesn't just look at TV. He watches it -- for up to 45 minutes without moving.

Posted by: KatieC | March 31, 2015 11:21 AM    Report this comment

My Welsh Terrier watches TV commercials and programs. And he gets it! He first responds to any perceived danger or violence, like squirrels springing out of the hedge or golf clubs being swung--especially the cowboy bumping into The End at the end of the Geico commercial. This is a bit of a problem, and we usually mute the TV during commercials! He is sitting in my lap at this moment because he likes to check my email and Facebook with me. I have a photo of him watching the judge going over a Welsh Terrier during Westminister Dog Show on TV! I had to stop watching "The Life of Pi" because Beau was whimpering and crying over the boy in the life boat being tossed about during a storm at sea! I think, like Enzo in "The Art of Racing in the Rain", he is planning on coming back as a human in his next life!

Posted by: JudyU | March 31, 2015 10:51 AM    Report this comment

My Pug, MuShu, watches anything with animals, live or animated. He first started watching bull riding. He would jump up in front of the screen and bark, then when the cowboy would fall off and the bull would leave the screen, he would run to the sliding door and look for him outside! He loves when I watch Westminster, but I eventually have to turn him around so he can't see it, or he would bark all night. He also loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and any commercials with dogs. Sometimes he even barks at Shaun T when I'm doing my Insanity workout. He also will bark at Pug pictures on magazines or calendars. We totally enjoy his TV watching antics and laugh every time.

Posted by: DogMommy29 | March 31, 2015 10:46 AM    Report this comment

We had an elderly and young poodle. A few days after the elderly one died, we came home to voices in the bedroom. We tiptoed down the hall to find the young poodle had pulled all of the pillows to the foot of the bed, made a nest, turned on the TV, and was watching it. After she turned it on a few more times, we started putting the remote out of her reach and adopted a second young dog to keep her company.

Posted by: Furrykids | March 31, 2015 10:42 AM    Report this comment

My dog, a Shorkie (Shi Tzu/Yorkie) watches TV. If there are ANY animals (shows and commerials), she jumps at the TV and barks incessantly. This drives me crazy because so many shows and especially commercials have animals (especially dogs) on them.The "Beggin Strips" dog commercial is her worst. She goes nuts at that dog zooming around the house to get her treat!! I can't change the channel fast enough!!!

Posted by: Grammy of 11 | March 31, 2015 10:38 AM    Report this comment

We had a pit mix who loved the Nat Geo Wild channel. He would stare so intently at the screen but turn away if we changed the channel. He especially loved shows w/baby hippos...lol

Only one of my current dogs shows any interest in the tv. It's on occasion but always some animal. I shouldn't be surprised - she has an extremely high prey drive.

Posted by: Scamp's mom | March 31, 2015 10:23 AM    Report this comment

Our German/Australian Shepherd watches certain things. During the Christmas season, our local channels advertise for a health food store in the area. It plays "flight of the Bumblebee" and features a black and white cartoon bumblebee doing swirls and twirls through the air, back and forth across the screen. As soon as she hears the music, she flies to the living room, parks in front of the tv, and proceeds to 'track' the bee. This leads to her, paws on the tv stand, bumping the tv screen w/her nose, and searching past the screen and behind the tv. She has been doing this for two years now...she turned three in Dec. She also chases shadows, lights, laser pointers, etc.! SO much fun! =D

Posted by: MaryP | March 31, 2015 10:18 AM    Report this comment

My girl loves to watch tv as well as videos on the computer. She went absolutely nuts over a video that was going around on Facebook of a dessert rain frog. She leapt from the floor to my desktop to see it better and for several days afterward kept checking the computer screen to see if it was there! I first noticed her interest in tv when there was a show with elephants (still a favorite of hers). If there's anything with birdsong, especially sea gulls, she's immediately interested (she's a springer spaniel with natural bird interest, even if it's just a sparrow!) My boy who I lost 2 years ago also watched tv. I even have a video of him watching himself on a video on tv. There once was a car insurance commercial with squirrels playing chicken with cars. My tv was in a corner between 2 windows. As the squirrel ran out of the road and off the screen, my boy ran to the window to see where it had gone!

Posted by: ChrisandAda | March 31, 2015 10:15 AM    Report this comment

Since I haven't owned a TV for 35 years, it is really novel for my dogs. Whenever we are visiting someone with a TV on (doesn't happen often unless we're getting together to watch a movie, so commercials don't come on) they definitely notice it. They seem to pay more attention to sounds, but the picture and its movement seems to make them uneasy. They will eventually fall into a fitful sleep, but keep waking up to glance at it in puzzlement. Then they look at me in puzzlement, as if to say, "what's the deal with you staring at this bizarre flickering light thingy, anyway?" But they are unmoved UNLESS some music with either an accordion or a harmonica comes on. Then they immediately start to sing along.

Posted by: LaurieR | March 31, 2015 10:14 AM    Report this comment

I was beginning to think my dog is the only one watching TV. Thanks for the article, it's good to know we're not alone. My dog reacts to every animal he sees, even photographs and animated characters. He has learned many commercials by their music (okay, we must watch way too much TV!). If he's out of the room and hears the opening notes, he comes running in, stands eagerly watching, eyes darting, waiting for the animal in the commercial and then barks and yelps like crazy. When we had the TV on a partial wall, he'd run to the other side of the wall as if he thought the animals must be behind the TV! He has expanded his repertoire to barking at gunshot sounds, the sound of water (he loves to play in the water and chase waves), and doorbells. We can only watch programs with dogs (or any animal) if we are willing to tell him to go lay down (he leaves the room and lays by the back door) over and over. He'll resist reacting for bit, but invariably, if the TV dog starts barking (or a horse whinnies or a cow moos, any animal sound), he's right back in front of the set wanting to watch and barking back. He's a mix of border collie/possibly lab. Very border collie in behavior, the size of a lab.

Posted by: samandme | March 31, 2015 10:02 AM    Report this comment

I've grown up with dogs and none of them have ever paid attention to the TV until we adopted Jimmy the Yorkshire Terrier. We first noticed him watching the horses on the Kentucky Derby coverage. But he's interested in every animal on TV, even cartoons. He rests quietly next to me on the couch but as soon as he hears the music of a commercial, he watches the TV for the animals who are invading his space!

Posted by: MrBoompi | March 31, 2015 10:01 AM    Report this comment

Elvis used to chase animals across the screen and look for them behind the TV until the HD switch over. He doesn't do it now.

Posted by: Maxshowdog | March 31, 2015 9:48 AM    Report this comment

Yes, both my dogs watch TV, primarily nature shows on the National Geographic Wild channel. The only thing I'm not too keen on is that they ALWAYS bark, get off the couch and jump up and down right next to the TV, when the Beggin' Littles commercial comes on. They would also sometimes bark at the "Animal Fight Night" show, to the point where I censored that show. I really think they were disturbed by that show. They also liked the unusual animal friends show (I forget the exact title).

Posted by: margeam | March 31, 2015 9:45 AM    Report this comment

I read an article a while back which explained why some dogs do see objects on the TV and others dont. My puppies watch TV but then dont as they grow up. I see life time TV watching more in small breeds.

Posted by: Kody | March 31, 2015 9:42 AM    Report this comment

I love this article. My Golden Retriever gets excited whenever the show "The Littlest Hobo" comes on. He could be sound asleep and the song begins and he is in front of the television. Once in a while he notices other shows where there are other dogs involved, funny enough, other golden retrievers. So much personality. We find out more and more just how much dogs observe and just intelligent they are. I don't think we know half of just how intelligent they are.

Posted by: MissMyZiggy | March 31, 2015 9:25 AM    Report this comment

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