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Help! My Dog Barks at Animals on TV

Dog sitting with family on couch

Dogs tend to bark at almost everything. Even small things such as a ringing doorbell can startle dogs and cause them to bark for a long time. Not all dogs bark at anything that’s on TV, but when they do, it can quickly get annoying. Let’s take a look at some reasons why dogs bark at the television, and what you can do to fix this behavior.

Why Do Dogs Bark at the TV?

Canines get riled up when they spot other animals, even if they are on television. The following are a couple of causes that can make your dog bark at a TV.

Natural Instinct of Dogs to Bark at Animals

Dog barking at 2 horses

Various studies have shown that dogs can perceive images on a television in the same way as humans. Smarter dogs are also able to identify animals on screen. This happens more if the television screen is quite big. However, canines have a limited color palette despite recognizing images at a faster rate than humans.

For this reason, your dog may just be reacting to a confusing jumble of pixels on the screen. Likewise, they may not be able to tell the difference between a televised noise and one happening in real life. When your pup hears or sees animals on a TV, he/she barks at them by considering them real. Sometimes, your dog may even try to find the animal behind the TV.

Excitement

When your dog catches sight of animals on TV, there is an element of confusion and excitement. Some dogs may think that your TV is a window, and there are animals outside it. In that case, it is perfectly natural for your dog to bark.

On the other hand, your pooch may also start barking because the TV is confusing him/her. Many people believe that canines start barking because of the animal sounds they hear instead of what they see.

My Dog Barks at Dogs on TV

Corgi on TV

It’s natural for dogs to bark when they encounter other dogs in real life. So, it’s not uncommon for them to express the same behavior when they see canines on television. In some cases, the dog may try to leap at your TV in an attempt to greet the other canine. Therefore, you must keep a close eye on your pup because he/she can knock the television over.

The television is a confusing concept for dogs because they see lifelike images and hear common sounds. However, they are unable to find the scent and physical presence of the real animal. This state of confusion can urge your pet to bark a lot.

My Dog Barks at Horses on TV

Horse on TV

Dogs will bark at almost every animal they see. Horses are no exception, and you will often see your dog barking at horses on screen too. Dogs feel threatened by bigger animals, such as horses, and it could be anxiety that is responsible for this barking.

How to Stop Your Dog from Barking at Animals on TV?

Close up of dog being told no

Dogs barking or jumping at televisions is a behavioral problem, and counter-conditioning should be used to train your pet. You should NEVER resort to harsh methods, such as punishments, shouting, or shock collars. The following are some of the effective methods to stop your pup from barking at animals on TV.

Positive Reinforcement

This is by far the best way to train any animal. If you’re watching TV and your dog is not barking, give him/her some treats as rewards. Although this does take time, if you do it enough times, your dog will learn this behavior.

Another way of doing this is to give your dog treats as soon as other animals appear on TV. Give it several treats in a row as long as it remains quiet. This will result in your dog being conditioned to associate treats with animals on screen.

After a few short training sessions, your dog should start looking at you instead of barking. Once your pet starts adopting this behavior, you can cut down on treats slowly.

Distract Your Dog

Beagle mix with tennis ball in mouth

When in doubt, distract! If your dog is barking at animals on TV, divert his/her attention towards something else. The idea is to keep your dog busy while you’re watching television.

Dog toys are an ideal solution for this purpose. A stuffed KONG toy or puzzles can occupy your dog’s attention and mouth, keeping him/her from barking at the screen.

Wear Your Dog Out

A tired dog will not bark at TV and will prefer to relax instead. If you know you’ll be spending time on the couch, take your dog for a long walk. Alternatively, you can wear him/her out by playing an extended game of fetch. You will have to plan the physical activity according to your pup because certain breeds have more energy than others.

This is perhaps the easiest method on this list. By the time you finish watching your favorite show, your pet will already be snoozing instead of barking at the TV.

Use Wireless Headphones

Portrait of half a man's face with eyes closed and wearing headphones

If all fails, you can always resort to using headphones for watching television. If your dog doesn’t hear the sounds, it’s quite likely that he/she will not bark at the TV. Keep in mind that this is not a long-term solution. However, it’s a compromise that may make both of your lives less stressful.

Recommended Dog Training Courses to Stop Your Dog Barking at the TV

There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.

  1. Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
  2. Brain Training for Dogs

These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.

The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.

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