One meta-lesson from Youtube is that just about everything I was told as a child about what animals never do turns out to be wrong in at least one example or another. For example, dogs and cats were said to not watch TV. Yet …
someone just give him that ball
(monjgi_mom IG) pic.twitter.com/IVr6nGsqQa
— Humor And Animals (@humorandanimals) May 4, 2019
Do dogs watch more TV in 2019 than they did in the past? Maybe pet culture is evolving?
In the 1988 movie “Scrooged,” Bill Murray is a TV network executive whose senile boss, Robert Mitchum, wants to lure in the vast yet untapped cat audience with a crime show about detective who is always dangling yarn:
Maybe that wasn’t a joke, and the TV executives’ 20 Year Plan is now working?
Okay, here’s a 2013 BBC article by dog expert Stanley Coren:
12 July 2013
A number of new television stations are opening around the world with programming specifically designed for dogs to watch. Does this make sense, asks dog expert Stanley Coren.
Many people report that their dogs completely ignore what is visible on television, while others report that their dogs are often captivated by events on the TV screen. Whether or not a dog pays attention to a TV programme depends upon a number of factors.
One important factor has to do with the way the dog’s eye works. The canine eye is designed to efficiently detect movement. The image on a standard television screen is updated and redrawn 60 times a second. Since a human’s flicker resolution ability is only 55Hz, the image appears continuous and the gradually changing images give us the illusion of movement.
Since dogs can discern flickers at 75Hz, a television screen probably appears to be rapidly flickering to them. A flickering image would obviously appear to be less real, and thus many dogs do not direct much attention to it.
Nonetheless, some dogs ignore the apparent flickering of the TV image and seem to respond to dogs and other images on screen if they are interesting enough.
Recently, changes in technology are beginning to increase the number of dogs that watch television. The increased availability of high-resolution digital screens that are refreshed at a much higher rate means that the images are less likely to appear to be flickering to the canine eye and we are getting more reports of dogs who are very interested in various nature shows that contain images of animals moving.
There's now a subscription channel called DogTV made specifically for dogs to watch; mine loves it, I sometimes leave it on when he's home alone for a few hours. But I can't even put the "Relaxation" program on at night because it's too exciting for him. pic.twitter.com/spbLddT3nK
— Alex S. (@Alex_94706) May 5, 2019
Or maybe the content of TV has just gotten a lot more interesting to dogs and cats. Maybe in the past TV was mostly human beings talking but now it’s more gorillas fighting T-Rexes:
Actually, you could do a test involving the 4 big budget versions of King Kong from 1933 to 2017 and see if they increasingly appeal to pets. I wouldn’t be surprised if movies have gotten more animalistic in their appeal.
I’m actually serious about this idea for experiment. Big budget human cultural products like movies are an interesting subject for social science research, but it’s hard to find human subjects who aren’t already biased by the culture. On other hand, now that animals often enjoy watching TV, it opens up a new set of potential experimental subjects less biased by nurture.