What can a dog see on a screen?

The lovely KA of NVSDR recently brought home her new puppy, a lovely Alaskan Malamute named Blair, from Icepure Kennels.

KA has been sharing lots of gorgeous puppy photos as little Blair has been introduced to her uncle, Buckley and her new family, including KA's two little people. Sooo cute!

I was playing a video of Blair "telling off" someone (we're not sure if it was aimed at Buckley, or the purple squeaky toy sitting next to him) in my study, and immediately had Ishka and Bolo all hunting all around the room for the puppy!


This raises the interesting question of whether dogs can watch a video or tv. Our dogs only seem to be interested when they can hear other dogs, or sounds they associate with sled racing (when J plays helmet cam from race videos!). It isn't clear what our dogs can see on the screen, while I have a few friends with terriers who definitely can - little Holly sits in her daddy's lap to watch TV, and if he swivels his chair sideways, she barks to tell him to move back!

Its generally known that dogs have key differences in their vision - they have only two types of colour receptors (cones) in their eyes, while humans have three.

This means, for instance, that what we perceive as red will be seen by dogs as yellowish or white

Ernst Otto Ropstad, an associate professor at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science.

 And this provides poorer detailed vision - I guess this explains why a non-moving object, like a ball, is often ignored by a dog focussed on other things.

But, what I didn't know, til I read an article on canine vision recently, was that dogs and other animals perceive a series of flickering image as separate images at a much great rate of frames per second than humans do. While humans only need around 20 images per second for the brain to be fooled into seeing the series as a moving image, it takes 70 images per second for the canine brain to merge the individual images into a "film". Its only fairly recently that televisions have had this capacity.

In terms of my video of Blair, I'm fairly certain that a large part of the problem was the angle of the ipad on the desk. From Bolo and Ishka's point of view, it probably appeared black, just like having the laptop screen tilted too far. However, they were determined to find little Miss Blair - I think its a good sign that she will be a commanding and formidable lady when she grows up!