Up until recently, the answer to this question was that they can’t, since their eyes and other senses work differently from humans. One of the main difference is that while in most humans flicker fusion occurs at around 50 to 60 Hz, the flicker fusion rate for most dogs may be as high as 70 to 80 Hz, so when they watch a CRT screen that refreshes at a rate of 50 or 60 Hz, they see flickering frames instead of continuous motion pictures.
However this is not the case with LCD technology, especially when the refresh rate is 100 Hz or higher, which is already good enough for dogs (and cats) as well. In a recent article, Auckland-based vet Alex Melrose also pointed out that the widespread theory of dogs not being able to see colors is wrong. They can see the colors of the blue spectrum, so they’re just red-green color blind. But why are they behind us regarding colors when they can detect faster motion? The simplified answer is because they have more rod cells but less cones in their retina.
Visual capabilities also vary by dog breeds: Greyhounds and Labradors tend to have better eyesight than other breeds, so they are more likely to enjoy Animal Planet. However, with the advancements made toward a more realistic visual experience, probably more pooches will get interested in watching TV. But even if you have a perfect sound system with your TV set, there’s one thing that your dog will miss: smell. Without an intriguing scent dogs are likely to lose interest soon. Which is good, because we don’t want them to become couch potatoes.
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