Why Does My Dog Bark at the TV?
Humans yell at the TV on occasion, like when their favorite sports team does something great (or not so great). You may have noticed that humans aren't the only ones who do this. Your furry companion can go from snoozing at your feet to sounding off at the screen in seconds. When this happens, you no doubt wonder, Why does my dog bark at the TV?
What Do Dogs See on the TV?
First, it helps to understand what television looks like from your dog's perspective. Dogs can see the images on TV — just not how you see them. Contrary to popular belief, dogs can see color, but they see the world in yellow, blue, and combinations of those two colors.
So, your pup isn't missing out on movie night entirely. Now, what's up with the barking?
4 Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Barking at the TV
Barking is a natural part of being a dog — it's how your pup communicates. Barking can be a territorial warning, an alarm, or an expression of excitement. If your dog barks when the doorbell rings in real life, he's trying to tell you someone is there. If he barks when the doorbell rings on TV, he might be telling you the same thing. And if he barks when he sees dogs or other animals outside, he may react the same way when he sees them on TV.
1. He's confused or bored
Some dogs understand TV better than others. A puppy might see something interesting on the screen and go behind the TV to investigate. When he finds nothing there, he may bark in confusion or frustration. Other dogs, though, realize TV images aren't real. Because of their sense of smell, pups may know that things on the TV aren't actually in the room. For some pooches, that can be comforting. For others, it's as confusing as thinking strange dogs have gotten into the living room.
However, a pup barking at the TV might not stem from alarm or confusion. Your dog may be flat-out bored by your binging, and he could want you to interact with him instead. This is often a problem with canine companions who have learned they can get their human pal's attention by barking.
2. He's distressed
Even if your dog understands that what's on the TV isn't real, the images still might distress him. For instance, footage of an animal making a sound of pain may prompt your pup to whine or bark.
Some furry friends may also become upset if the TV volume is too loud for their sensitive ears. Try lowering the volume to see if that helps with his barking.
3. His breed instincts are kicking in
Compared with dogs who rely more on hearing or smell, breeds developed for good vision are more likely to get excited by TV images.
A bloodhound may not care about your show because it's not smell-a-vision. But a terrier or sheepdog may react to movement — even if it's only a cartoon rabbit.
4. He's sensitive to the TV
Sometimes, a dog's reaction to TV boils down to individual personality. Certain pups are more sensitive than others. They may hide when people come to visit or overreact to unexpected situations on a walk. These doggos are also more likely to bark at the TV.
Tips for Keeping Your Pup from Barking at the TV
If you've moved past wondering "Why does my dog bark at the TV?" and shifted to "How can I get through my next marathon in peace?" then try these strategies for when you want to press "mute."
Try counterconditioning. If your dog is sensitive to the TV, you may need to teach him that TV time is safe, if not fun. Time his meals or treats to happen while you're watching TV. Or you might play games such as fetch or tug-of-war in front of the TV. He might find an interactive toy more engrossing than another episode of "Jeopardy."
Teach your dog "quiet." When your pup barks, say "shhh" or a similar command word. That alone may stop the barking at least for a moment. When he hushes, reward him with a treat or clicker sound. This way, he'll learn that "shhh" or "quiet" means he needs to stop barking.
Teach your dog "place." An excited pup can seem like a sugared-up toddler. So, use a similar calm-down strategy. Teach him to go to a specific spot, like his bed, when you say the command "place." Directing him to a safe, comforting place may be what he needs to chill out and stop barking.
Seek help. If you can't solve your pup's barking on your own, try talking with a dog trainer or behaviorist. It's great to have a pro in your corner.