Canine expert explains why dogs bark at TVs including ‘sensitive hearing’

Our dogs can be complex little characters, and while we think we know them inside out, sometimes they just do things that leave us stumped.

Sometimes we need a little advice from the experts. That was the case for one member of TeamDogs, Averill Stanley.

While she’s completely besotted by her adorable Maltese Shih Tzu, Bailey, she does have one little habit that Averill has no idea how to handle.

She asked: “When any dog appears on the TV Screen, she barks like crazy and jumps straight up.

“It doesn’t seem to matter about size or breed… she sometimes mistakes cats or other animals.”

Averill wondered if it could just be Bailey protecting her home.

And while we’re completely obsessed with our furbabies here at TeamDogs, we’re not experts.

So we put Averill’s question to a dog behaviourist.

Greta Inglis, a dog behavioural specialist at Wamiz, said: “It’s fairly common for dogs to bark at animals on the television and it doesn’t seem to make a difference on their breed!

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“Dogs are naturally very interested in things that move and studies have shown they can perceive images, even if they're on the TV.

“They also have such sensitive hearing, they will also be reacting to the noises on screen, perhaps confused as to where they’re coming from. This is something worth solving, as it can lead to frustration for your dog.”

Can you relate to Averill’s dilemma? Greta had some advice on how you can train your dog to react calmly to four-legged TV stars.

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She said: “To start working with your dog, you will need some high-quality videos of animals and if he or she seems particularly interested in dogs, then we would recommend videos of dogs specifically.

“Select a clip you feel she will be interested in, but not overwhelmed by, as we are looking for very mild reactions at first. This will help keep any frustration at bay.

“Play the clip and as soon as she notices the dog on screen, reward her with a high-value treat. This should be something she loves. If she knows the command ‘leave it’ or ‘quiet’, you can use one of these.

“At first, reward consistently for every moment she looks towards the screen, pairing a command if that’s what you choose. Reward all calm behaviour. Once she is looking towards you on seeing the animals on screen, you’re ready to move on to a more challenging clip.

“Keeping reinforcing all calm behaviour from her, building on the intensity of the clips over time. You are changing her emotional response and helping her learn that keeping quiet gets her tasty treats.”

Do you have any questions for a behaviourist? Does your dog behave in a way that leaves you scratching your head?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected] and will see if we can help answer your questions.

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