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Why Do Jack Russells Watch TV? (What Do They See?)

Have you ever noticed your little Jack Russell’s ears perked at attention when you are watching tv when they hear or see something interesting? My good friend Nancy has a Jack Russel that loves TV. It’s so much fun to see what reaction we can get from trying out different channels! But it made me wonder can dogs even see the TV and recognize what they are watching?

It may surprise you, but, Jack Russell’s can and do watch tv. They can recognize other people and animals on the screen and sometimes react in funny ways. They perceive colors very differently than we do and if they aren’t watching tv in HD the screen may be jumpy.

Not all dogs react to TV the same way though, so what’s typical of Jack Russells? Of course, I wanted to find out so I asked other Jack Russell owners to give me the dirty details. Here are some things I learned about Jack Russell’s watching TV.

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Alfie watching his favorite program Countryfile! Thank you Mark B. for use of the picture.

What do they see and hear

Dogs see the world completely differently than we do, and Television is no exception.

After doing my research into this I have found it fascinating that what they see and hear is not what I expected. I think It would be very interesting to see the world from their eyes for a day to really grasp what it’s like, but for now, I’ll have to rely on finding from the owners and experts.

Usually, it’s the sounds from the TV that will catch our pup’s attention first. They are very keen to hear any kind of animal sounds. Barking is the most reacted to but meowing or other sounds like cows, birds, reptiles, and even a favorite game show host, or sporting events can catch their attention.

I’ve also had owners tell me that their Jack Russell’s can be easily startled by some kind of noise on the TV. The sound of a doorbell ringing or someone knocking is a common tv sound that will get a reaction. Sometimes they are fooled and run to the front door to see who is there but more often they start barking at the TV.

Jack Russell standing in front of the tv screen watching a show about dogs.
Olly loves watching any program with animals and will watch through to the end! Thank you Andrew B. for use of this picture as well as the cover photos!

Once their attention has been grabbed they will sometimes, but not always, zero in on the culprit by staring wide-eyed relentlessly into that black box and either sit contently gazing, or let you know how they really feel with a deep throaty growl or even a full-on bark fest at the offending character making all that ruckus.

If you really want your Jack Russell to have a smooth viewing experience though go for that nice High Depth quality! Dog’s are a bit more sensitive when it comes to their vision and can detect 70 flickers of light compared to our 60. Because of the higher resolution of our fancy HD TV’s these days, the screen will be less jumpy and more life-like for them to enjoy.

What about color? Dogs are technically color blind, but that doesn’t mean they see everything in black and white. They actually get to have some yellow and blues thrown in there, so even though it’s not quite as vivid to them, they can still perceive some color in their favorite program.

What do they want to watch

Other dogs of course! Well, not always, but there is this cool study that shows dogs can actually tell another dog apart from humans and other species just based on visual clues alone even on a TV or other screen. So when you have that muted dog show on TV your Jack Russell is smart enough to tell he’s one of his kind, and that might be enough to grab his undivided attention.

So what are a Jack Russell’s favorite programs to watch? I asked other Jack Russell owners and got a wide variety of answers, but almost all of them included some kind of program with another animal in them or a recognizable noise. Here are some of the things they said their Jack Russell’s reacted to.

  • Animal Planet (#1 Favorite)
  • Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs
  • Anything with Cows, Horses, or Pigs
  • Hope in the Wild
  • Knocking at the Door
  • Anything with fire
  • Phone Ringing
  • Someone in Trouble or Getting Hurt
  • Other dogs barking or whining
  • Socer Games
  • 101 Dalmations
  • Dog TV Channel on dish network

How do they react

Of course the most common and noticed reactions are when they start growling, barking, or whining. It’s quite comical to see your dog concerned about something you know very well to be made up.

Some dogs will go on and on barking until their owners either get after them to calm down and be quiet or turn the TV off all together.

Other Jack Russell owners say that they will just loose interest after a while and go to sleep.

The comical truth is that some of us get more entertainment watching our Jack Russells watching TV than actually watching the programs ourselves!

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