Do Dogs Watch Television?

According to, 87% percent of owners believe that their pets watch television. A survey by the American Kennel Club and Iams found that nearly half of dog surveyed showed some interest in what was happening on the television.

Looking at how a dog’s eye works, they may not see television the same way we do. Human eyes perceive a continuous scene; dog eyes may be fast enough to catch each frame. Read more about how dogs’ eyes work, and what they can or can’t see. Read more about how cats’ eyes work!

The problem with a dog vegging out and watching TV for hours is that television doesn’t engage a dog’s most important sense: smell. The sight of the screen and the sound of the action may catch his attention briefly, but won’t hold his attention for too long. Even a dog barking on television is not quite the same as a dog barking in real life — at least not to our dogs. There are other cues that are missing to their senses.

Just like all dogs have different personalities, all dogs may react differently to the television. Some may frequently check the back of the TV set to see where the animals and people on the screen have gone. Some dogs will respond to certain voices or actions or even languages coming from the set. In general, dogs appreciate watching things they are normally interested in — other dogs and other animals. A cat’s attention is often caught by something moving quickly across the screen.

And keep in mind, your dog may just be curling up on the couch or at your feet for the company, not so much for the programming choices. Your furry friend doesn’t really need the television for entertainment… not when his family is around. A dog with separation anxiety, however, may appreciate the noise of a television or radio when he’s home alone.