We thought we’d take a break from video monetization reports and awesome video interviews to bring you the latest installment of our “Video and the Mind” series.
After years of backbreaking demographic research, studio execs greenlit a new channel, revolutionizing TV as we know it: DogTV. Think of it as a CNN but for canines. DogTV provides round-the-clock programming
of three- to six-minute clips showing bouncing balls, grassy fields and other puppy-pleasing videos.
Because yuppies have too many worries (and dollars), DogTV gives humans ease of mind knowing their canines are entertained. That way, they can leave the dog at home without worrying about separation anxiety (the canine’s, not the human’s ... OK maybe both. In contrast, techies don’t turn on the tube to keep their furry friends occupied; they build robot companions for lonely dogs
DogTV has spurred many questions, like, “what the hell is wrong with people?” and, “weren’t cat owners supposed to be the crazy ones?”
But the most prominent query remains, “Do dogs even understand what's happening on television?”
If there’s such a thing as a canine ivory tower (an ivory fire hydrant?), he’s in it.
Coren says behavioral researchers measured flicker sensitivity to understand the ability of humans and dogs to perceive motion and record events. A fluorescent light, even if it appears to be glowing continuously, actually flashes about 120 times a second. Laboratory tests have found that humans can't see flickering above 55 cycles per second, or Hertz, while dogs can see flicker rates up to 75 Hertz.
Typical TV sets update their screens about 60 times per second. Since this is a higher rate than humans' flicker perception of 55 Hertz, people see constantly illuminated and continuous screens. But because dogs have higher flicker perception than standard TVs, they instead see a rapidly flickering set -- not conducive to “Dog Whisperer” marathons.
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.
The main limitation to dogs vegging out in front of a television (or tablet
) appears to be hardware. But with new TV sets featuring higher refresh rates, Coren says there are more reports of dogs becoming glued to the tube. There are also content limitations. Owners have reported their canine friends following along nature shows with moving images of animals. The same can’t be said of cartoon animals because the animation movement patterns don’t align with real-life movements. Perhaps the programmers at DogTV might be barking up the right content tree.
So can dogs understand what’s happening on TV? With the right TV and right content, yes. And given dogs’ documented ability to empathize
, you might not be the only one weeping at the end of “Old Yeller.”