Why Your Dog Isn’t a Couch Potato

Ahh…the weekend.  Those two glorious days of trying to relax and forget about that pesky job.  There’s the sleeping in….the going out…and, of course, the watching of the junk TV.

While Buffy is my faithful weekend companion (we do almost everything together Saturday and Sunday), she just will not join me in my couch potato ways.  I will lay around watching old movies and E!, and Buffy will lay in “her” chair by the window and keep an eye on the comings and goings of the neighborhood.  Occasionally a barking dog on screen will get her to perk up for a moment, but almost immediately she realize the threat is false goes back to gazing outside…chin resting on the windowsill.

So what’s up!?  Turns out dog’s eyes are SO much better than ours, the stuff on the TV looks too fake.  Back in the days of CRT screens (you know…before TVs were flat and hung on our walls) they refreshed at about 50-60 Hz.  This is perfect for us humans.  Dogs, though, have a flicker fusion rate of 70-80Hz.  

(Science term for the day – flicker fusion: the tendency to perceive a flickering sensory input signal as continuous when the frequency is above a certain threshold….in other words, how quickly images have to be flashed at you so you can see them as continuous motion.)

So, on old TVs, it would appear to a dog as if the picture on the screen was flickering (like a strobe light).  What about new fancy TVs, you say? Most pups still aren’t interested, but not because of their eyes.  Their noses are the problem!!  (I just read about this, and I had seriously never thought about it before.  Now it seems so obvious!  Dogs take in their surroundings nose first unlike humans who always favor their eyes.)  Dogs simply have no time for a world that doesn’ have smells.  (Of course there are exceptions to ever rule.  I’m sure some of you have dogs whose tails start waggin’ when Wilfred comes on!)

The fact that dogs don’t “see” the television does not stop pooch parents from leaving theirs on when they are out.  Almost 60% of pet owners leave their TVs (or radios) on for their dogs or cats.  Personally, I never leave the TV on for Buffy.  She loves to nap, and I’m worried that it will be more annoying than comforting.  I don’t think most dogs really care one way or the other, but I must say that sometimes I leave the television on for background noise when I’m home alone…so I can totally understand.

The only time Buffy is ever interested in our TV is when the television is off.  We do not have it mounted, and it sits level with the couch directly across from it.  That girl will see her own reflection and start barking her head off!  She will go from dozing lazily on the sofa to at attention with hair raised in about 2 seconds. What a nut!

(I think she is really just pointing out to me that she is the only thing on TV worth watching.)


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