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Here's why you shouldn't leave the TV on for your dog while gone

The television affects every dog differently.

There’s nothing better than taking a little break from reality in front of the television (or a long break — cue the TV marathon). All of your favorite binge-worthy shows help you drift away, so it’s fair to assume that our dogs would have the same experience. 

It’s actually not that simple, though. While it’s generally OK for dogs to watch television, the colors, sounds and content can make some dogs feel anxious. Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, Dr. Aliya McCullough shares some things to consider before turning on the television with your pup around. 

TV color and sounds‍

“Some dogs may like to watch TV, and others completely ignore it,” Dr. McCullough says. “It's an individual decision that pet parents can make based on their dog’s preference and behavior.”

When it comes to colors, Dr. McCullough explains that dogs only see in yellow, blue and green — so certain shows (especially colorful cartoons) could be either boring or confusing to them as they can’t differentiate shades. Pups process images much faster than humans, too, so instead of seeing the true image, television often looks like random flickering, bright movements.

Sounds from the TV can also overstimulate your pet. For example, some dogs listen to, rather than watch, the television, and if there’s a loud noise or dog barking, it could make them anxious. Has your dog ever reacted to the TV? Sometimes overstimulation can cause pups to lunge or jump at the television and may result in injuries, Dr. McCullough says.  

Don’t assume your pup’s TV preferences, either. “Dogs may react differently to different types of shows, and pet parents should watch their pet closely when evaluating whether their pet should watch TV,” Dr. McCullough explains. 

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How to introduce your dog to the TV

If your pup is nervous when you leave the house, talk to their vet to learn how to help them with their anxiety. And if you insist on seeing if the television can help your pup feel comfortable, follow these steps: 

  • Start slowly. Leave them in the room with the television on while you’re at home so you can see how they react. Always make sure your pup can leave the room, if needed. 
  • Try a couple of different channels to see which one they react best to. 
  • Test out animal shows or calming shows (just avoid barking dogs, if possible). 
  • Remember that television is not a replacement for human interaction. 

There’s a chance your pup may not like the TV at all. “Signs that dogs may not enjoy TV are if they leave the room when the TV is on or actively avoid it, appear stressed and lunge or jump at the TV,” Dr. McCullough explains. 

Don’t worry if the television doesn’t calm your pet. There are other options you can try out, like a curated playlist that includes classical, soft rock or reggae music, or an audiobook. As pet lovers, we understand that you’re never fully comfortable until your best friend is — luckily, there are several ways to make sure your pet is relaxed. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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