Our furry friends can sometimes be a little unusual—like for instance, when they bark at the TV. Do they understand what’s going on? Are they registering their excitement or dismay? Are other dogs barking on the TV communicating something to them?
So, why do dogs bark at the TV?
We investigated, and found five factors that may influence your best friend’s behaviour around your television.
We know dogs are smart—and as a result, they can perceive images on television similar to how we do. They can recognise images of other animals and dogs, just as they would outside the TV. Even using only vision, a 2013 study published in Animal Cognition revealed that dogs can identify other dogs, animals and humans. So when your pet is sitting next to you focused on the screen, yes, they may very well be watching the excitement with you (even if they don’t understand the complexities like we do).
Dogs don’t just come in all shapes and sizes—they also come in all sorts of personalities too, so of course different dogs will react differently. Just like some humans become excited seeing their favourite sporting team win, or react to their favourite shows, dogs do too. While they won’t always show their reactions, they do understand—it’s simply a matter of whether or not they care, and how your particular pet will show their emotions.
It isn’t just personality that affects a pooch’s reaction to the screen. Different breeds of dogs are driven by different things. For example, where a hound may not react due to their reliance on their keen sense of smell, a breed like a terrier—who is more visually stimulated by movement—may appear more engaged to what we’re watching.
Dogs can process images faster than we can, and their sense of sound is also obviously superior to ours—so it makes sense that they’d react more, too!
If your pooch is distressed about what you’re watching, try turning down the volume, taking them to another room, comforting them, or even simply covering their eyes and ears—not all reactions will be pleasant!
Sometimes when your pooch spots another on the screen, they’ll run around the set, attempting to find the other pup. Again, depending on the dog’s personality and breed, this could be out of excitement to meet a new friend—or, if your pal is rather protective, their barks could be a warning call to you of potential danger.
Do you think your pet watches TV with you? Let us know in the comments.