Is this dog really watching Air Buddies? With their terrible vision, can dogs even see televisions?
One company is hoping they can, as they’re launching a Direct TV channel just for dogs in August. DogTV “the first and only 24/7 television channel scientifically developed and tested for dogs” is an actual 24-hour channel that will debut on August 1st. According to the channel’s Facebook page:
DOGTV is a 24/7 digital TV channel with programing scientifically developed to provide the right company for dogs when left alone. Through years of research, special content was created to meet specific attributes of a dog’s sense of vision and hearing and support their natural behavior patterns. The result: a confident, happy dog, who’s less likely to develop stress, separation anxiety or other related problems.
DOGTV is recognized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and uses concepts widely supported by leading organizations including The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as a valuable product that contributes to the enrichment and quality of dogs’ lives.
Their content will come in three types: relaxation, stimulation and exposure. Relaxation is meant to calm dogs with soothing visuals. Stimulation involves “active camera movements, exciting animations and moving objects and animals with appropriate sounds and frequencies help encourage dogs’ playfulness.” Exposure is designed to use “special sounds and visuals help comfort and habituate dogs by exposing them to different day-to-day stimuli.”
DogTV’s website has sample clips for each of these types of programs. Here’s the Exposure one:
According to Stanley Coren, author of the book Do Dogs Dream?: Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know, dogs can see the TV, but they don’t see it the way we do:
The image on a standard television screen is updated and redrawn 60 times per second. Since this is above a human’s flicker resolution ability of 55 Hz, the image appears continuous and the gradually changing images give us the illusion that it is continuous. Because dogs can resolve flickers at 75 Hz, a TV screen probably appears to be rapidly flickering to dogs. This rapid flicker will make the images appear to be less real, and thus many dogs do not direct much attention to it. Even so, it is true that some dogs ignore the apparent flickering of the television and seem to respond to dogs and other interesting images on the TV screen if they are interesting enough. However, changes in technology are beginning to change the number of dogs that watch TV. High-resolution digital screens are refreshed at a much higher rate so even for dogs there is less flicker, and we are getting more reports of pet dogs who are very interested when various nature shows containing images of animals moving.
So dogs probably can watch DogTV. Whether they’ll enjoy it is a harder question.
More from Smithsonian.com: