Re: Are dogs unable to see 2-D images (mirrors, photos, TV)?

I have a German Shepherd (named Dakota) and a large hi-def television (Mitsubishi Diamond 63") Dakota usually lays on the floor next to me (unless there is a loud thunderstorm - which transforms him into a very large, somewhat uncomfortable lap dog). Usually, he ignores the TV, unless I’m watching a nature show on an HD channel and the TV is set on 1080i output. The first time he reacted (he charged up to the screen and growled quite menacingly) the program was talking about a wild dog from India, called a ‘dhole’. I TiVo’d the program (Tiger Jungles on Nat Geo) and I’ve tried the same footage with the sound muted, and different resolutions and Dakota consistently responds to 1080i. Interestingly, he watches, but shows no aggression towards footage of well-behaving dogs. His interest perks up with footage of cats, squirrels, etc. but only charges the screen when a dog or large wild animal seems to be acting aggressively.

Here’s the link but note the article is from September 27, 1985.

My pug watches the TV and reacts at every single dog or horse on it. Horses really get him going for some reason. But when he finally saw one in real life? He didn’t say boo.

Dogs must enjoy TV, they have their own station now.

Blackjack couldn’t care less what’s shown on TV, but I’ve seen dogs who do. He does react to sounds from the TV, including dogs barking, and explosions. He also recognized voices on a cell phone.


I have read that dogs’ eyes can see a much higher flicker rate than humans. So the smooth video we see at 24 frames per second is very flickery to dogs. That is typically why they don’t react to standard TVs. But the newer TVs which have much higher scan rates do look like smooth video to dogs. That may explain why your dog is reacting to video in certain resolutions. In the other resolutions he can see the flicker.

Well, in the precise scenario depicted, the dog’s reacting to 1080i… interlaced, or 1/2 half normal frame rate (alternating fields)… or, in mundane terms, more flickery than, say, 720p. So maybe the dog sees flicker better?

BTW, as far as I recall, US HDTV uses 60 fields per second (or, if interlaced, 30 frames per second). 24 frames per second is film.

A previous dog of mine understood mirrors. He would look at my reflection, into my eyes, and knew it was me. My current dog has not the slightest conception of mirrors and takes no notice of either the TV or computer, even when animal sounds are present.