And by ‘watch’ I mean maintain their focus for at least several minutes.
Our previous dogs might perk up with alertness momentarily if there was, say, a dog barking or a wolf howling on some tv show, but otherwise the television held no interest for them. We used to refer to the television set as being a ‘light box’ for dogs - just a source of illumination that featured nonsensical images to them.
Not so with our current GSD. We have Roku and signed up for The Great Courses Plus (which by the way is an awesome service). There’s currently a ‘dog training 101’ course being offered. Since we’re in the process of training our new rescue GSD, we thought it’d be a great resource. So, we’re sitting on the family room couch and turn the lecture series on. The course instructor is demonstrating how to give commands and rewarding the dog with treats whenever the dog obeys commands. The instructor also gives the same positive reinforcement phrase to the dog (good girl) that we’ve used for our own obedience training. The Hund immediately perks up when she heard the instructor say ‘good girl’. Not entirely surprising, but what did surprise me was how she got off her pillow, placed herself in front of the tv and riveted her attention to the tv for the next 10 minutes (that’s over an hour in dog time). Our dog’s tail would frequently give a quick wag whenever the dog on tv was rewarded! Almost like she was being rewarded vicariously. We decided to try some training that would match whatever the instructor was doing on screen, occasionally hitting the pause button as we attempted our own repetitions for command trials. Our dog loved it!
We’ve watched seven courses in the series so far and each time she’s spent prolonged periods of time (we’re talking several minutes at a time) watching it. She doesn’t pay attention any other time the tv is on, only with this particular Great Courses lecture. We now call it the ‘Good Girl Show’.
Here’s the mind-blowing part. Last night I was watching the course with her down at my feet when the phone rang. I left the tv running and exited the room to answer the call. When I returned our dog was still watching, but get this - the instructor was giving the command to ‘sit’…and our dog sat when the instructor on tv gave the command! I’m sure I’ve never seen a dog interact with a television show like that.
Do your pets ever watch tv, and if so, what level of interest do they exhibit?