Have you ever settled in on the couch to watch your favorite television program when suddenly, your dog starts barking when a doorbell rings on the television? It’s a common enough occurrence that it makes people wonder what causes some dogs to pay attention to certain television stimuli while other dogs ignore them completely.
For instance, this tiger-growling commercial from Kaufman & Stigger Injury Lawyers has been known to make dogs bark. Some dogs come running to the television when they hear attorney Cara Stigger’s voice because they know the tiger will soon follow.
What’s behind this highly entertaining phenomenon?
Dogs have incredible hearing
You probably already know that dogs can hear much better than humans. They can listen to and differentiate a car coming down the road much sooner than you or I can, and if they recognize that car as belonging to someone they know and love, they’ll start barking before the vehicle even pulls into the driveway.
The same is true for television sounds. Their ears can pick out doorbells, other animal noises, and slamming doors on television when they may sound like background noise to us.
But, even though they’re brilliant, dogs can’t tell the difference between what’s an actual doorbell or animal noise and one that’s on television.
This is why dogs may start barking. They think someone is at the door and can’t wait to see them!
Or, they think that animal might be in the room with them, and they need to protect you from that growling beast! They are doing what they’re supposed to do. Warn you of a potential issue when they hear an alarming sound.
Different dogs, different reasons
While confusing a fake doorbell or animal sound with a real one is probably the main reason why dogs bark at the television when one comes on, there are some other reasons behind this behavior as well.
For one, they can’t see as well as humans, so they might be frightened by the sounds they hear coming from the television when they can’t determine what is making the sound.
Dogs have a limited ability to see colors, and if the television screen isn’t large, they may not be able to make out the shape of what’s making the sound.
When dogs are frightened, they bark at the object that makes them scared. In this case, they know where the sound is coming from — the television — so they bark in that direction.
They may not be barking at the doorbell on television or a growling tiger on an attorney’s commercial, but instead are just barking because they don’t understand what is making the sound.
Other dogs bark at everything that moves, including images on television. If familiar sounds (doorbell, animal growling), accompany those, they’re even more likely to bark.
Rewarded for barking
No matter why your dog barks at the television, if you laugh and praise them, they will do it again, especially if they learn that a specific commercial triggers your reaction.
Now, if it doesn’t bother you, by all means, continue allowing your dog to bark at that growling tiger.
But, if you want to change their behavior, you’ll have to stop rewarding them for barking and instead reward them for remaining quiet when certain stimuli come on television.
Help your dog understand television noises
Sometimes, it can be highly entertaining when your dog engages with the television, especially when they think they’re protecting you from the legal tiger.
But, if the barking continues or expands to everything on television, you may need to take steps to break this bad habit.