Do your pets ever watch tv?

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?

No. There was one fluke moment where my dog started howling with another dog on the TV.

That was just a one-time thing though.

I’ve had dogs bark at the images of running horses more than once. Sometimes cats will stare at the TV or computer monitor, but who knows?

Not usually, and I have had a lot of pets.

However, once when I was between leases (it was a hiccup between when one lease started and another ended, and it was New York-- it would have cost more than I made in a month to pay for two months off-lease) I lived with my parents for a couple of months as an adult, and I had a cat at the time. My brother was there, because he had just finished his freshman year of college, and was home for the summer. He spent a lot of time playing Nintendo (the original NES), and Super Mario Bros. in particular. This was back in the days when TVs were nice warm places for cats to sleep, and my cat spent lots of time on the TV.

One day, when my brother was playing Mario, the cat noticed the screen, and started batting her paw at Mario whenever he jumped up. This became a regular thing.

Mario was the only game she ever paid any attention to, but Wow, did she go crazy trying to catch Mario! Got to the point where, when she heard the theme music, she’d come running out from wherever she was, and jump on the TV. My brother just had to stop playing it until I moved out.

My grandmother had a DVD of wild birds, and claimed her cat loved to watch it. I never witnessed this, but I have no reason to suspect her of lying. She said he reacted just like he did when he watched birds out the window.

Usually my cats ignore the sound of dogs barking on the TV, and with good reason, I suspect: most barking dogs are actually dubbed by human voice actors. Once, I was watching something, I forget what, and there was a GSD barking, and all the cats went nuts. They jumped, they hid, they raised their hackles. I rewound it just for fun, and got the same reaction. I can only assume that in this one particular case, it was the sound of the actual dog barking, and not a voice actor.

My dog goes nuts whenever there is a dog on TV. He didn’t start that way, but one hungover saturday I was lazing on the couch and caught “Bolt” while channel surfing. The dog hated Bolt! Barked his head off. Ever since, he barks at dogs on TV. Horses are suspect. Dinosaurs are right on the edge. It doesn’t seem to make any difference if they are real or animated.

I was actually thinking of starting a thread about this. It seems that lately, last 9 months or so, there are more dogs in commercials.

Not anymore, but when we first got Tonka we also had a new, bigger, TV. I was watching Tarantula (1955). Tonka saw the giant arachnid on the screen and kind of freaked out.

Usually not but it sometimes happens, so interest akin to a red dot from a laser pointer. But just to mention I had a cat who would often turn on the TV and sleep on the cable box. Perhaps the sound was of comfort but I suspect the main reason was the cable box got warm after she turned it on.

Annie always watches TV with me, since the first night I brought her home and we watched The 7-Percent Solution. She sits in my lap, or squeezes herself into the space next to me in the armchair–back against the back of the chair, legs stretched out in front of her–and keeps her eyes attentively on the screen unless she decides her grooming is more important.

I’ve had other cats that looked at the screen now and again–Lucia used to like cartoons but never had any interest in live action, and Charley used to sit and stare at The Sopranos when she was a kitten, but I don’t think that show was a good influence on her. I’ve never had a pet before Annie that was so dedicated to watching TV. I have no idea what she makes of what she’s seeing; it’s not like she can follow the plots.

Gos (Catalan for “dog”) was my uncle’s Catalan Shepherd. He spent most of his life looking for things to hump and humans to jump on (or hump). But one day as they were talking a walk on the mountains, they came upon a strange sight. There were a bunch of these… fluffy animals? White, fluffy animals? Who’d run and go hither and fro when Gos approached? No sooner had Gos started investigating the joy presented by this interesting discovery that a female German Shepherd got on his case for “bothering MY fluffy animals”, but once he appeased her properly and accepted her authority, she taught him the basics of How To Make Sheep Do Stuff.

The human shepherd was almost crying, “he’s a natural! Don’t you see, the name itself says it, they’re shepherds, this is what they were made to do! Please let me train him and show him for you, he’d be winning ribbons left and right!” My uncle refused.

Ever since and whenever sheep came up on TV, Gos would try to herd the telly.

One of my Siamese cats talks back at the TV if any screech-y sound comes on. My TV is mounted on the wall so he gets as high as he can on a cat tree and makes that weird meow/howl, that only a Siamese cat can do, til it stops. A siren, a scream, a soprano singing. Once Kellyanne Conway set him off. I have had a few dogs who would watch TV. My 2 now are too busy being lazy slobs to look at TV.

Apparently the old CRT televisions with 60Hz refresh rates looked like a flickery mess to dogs, but apparently they can see the new ones pretty well.

But overall I think dogs and cats react more to sounds than the pictures.

My cat, who passed away two months ago, was fascinated by, of all things, monkeys on television. When there’d be a monkey on a TV program (which happened more often than you’d think – my wife loves nature programs), the cat would walk up close to the screen, and stare at the monkey until the scene ended. The sound may well have been part of it, but he was clearly also watching the monkeys’ movements on the screen.

Conversely, he hated the sound of a howling wolf on the TV. When those would come up, he’d grow visibly uncomfortable, and sometimes either hide behind the couch, or leave the room entirely.

Ursala Kitteh has no interest in television. She doesn’t react to hearing a dog bark or a cat meowing. She doesn’t even look at the tv.

My cats watches TV if I put a video on the TV for cats, i.e. something with birds, fish or squirrels. My cat especially likes watching videos with squirrels.

My dog will bark if she hears a doorbell on TV, but I have never seen her look at the screen. Even when I left on the free preview of the “Dog TV” channel for her.

When my rats are on the couch with me while I watch TV, they show no interest in it. However, they know that when the TV goes off, it’s time to go back to their cage, so they run to my lap when they hear the sound stop. Sometimes in a quiet part of the show they’ll perk up to see if it’s really the end or not. Most interestingly, if I watch the same show for a few days in a row, they come to learn the end credits music, and when they hear that, they run to my lap.

Firstly, can I just say how amazing the OP is. I’d be thrilled if my Dylan did anything other than gruff when a TV show includes a doorbell or barking dogs.

But let me tell you about Charni the cat, who belonged to my ex. Charni was not a lap cat, or a TV watcher, but she was obsessed with chocolate wrapped in gold paper (like Ferrero Roche), to the point where she would dive onto you if you were trying to eat one and push her face into your hands.

At the time, Ferrero Roche had a TV ad running regularly, and my god, if that was on, Charni would be right up by the TV, paws on the screen and meowing loudly.

Literal LOL! That’s awesome!

My sister had a service dog. Once when I was visiting the TV was on. Usually the dog did not give any indication of interest in the TV. However, for some reason on whatever we were watching the word “DOG” appeared on the screen in large letters. When this happened the dog stood up and walked up to the TV.

My recently passed old man dog had zero interest, but my little guy (cocker spaniel/husky mix. Seriously) will watch intently. He likes the expected Animal Planet type shows, but he loves specific dramas too. The Walking Dead is his absolute favorite. This is a problem, because my interest in the show has waned over the years, but I can’t give it up because he loves it so. He’ll sit and watch intently, even when there are no fighting/action scenes. He also loves Game of Thrones.

Sometimes he’ll get up and try to look behind the tv if someone exits the screen to one side or the other. :smiley: