Can Dogs See Phone Screens?

By John Martin - March 26, 2022

Woman showing dog phone screen

If you have ever wondered why your dog seems confused whenever you try to talk to them through video calls, then here’s the answer for you.

While dogs can technically see phone screens, they might not actually be able to form any kind of identification or association with the real object or person and what you are showing to them on the screen. Let’s learn more about this below.

Can Dogs See Phone Screens?

Whether or not dogs can see phone screens is still a matter of debate and research. Based on what we know so far, however, a huge part of it depends on what you are showing them as well as the size of the screen.

However, as a general rule, dogs cannot recognize things and people on phone screens, which is why it might actually be futile attempting to get your dog to react to something on your phone unless there is sound involved.

Let’s take a look at some factors and elements that can help us understand this question and occurrence better.

Size of Screen

The size of the screen can make a difference when it comes to your dog’s vision. Bigger phone screens are likely to result in more success as compared to smaller ones.

However, with the similarity in the size of screens on phones, it is not entirely possible to say that one phone’s screen can work better on dogs as compared to others.

Dogs also tend to have visual acuity of 20/75 as compared to 20/20 vision in human beings. This means that dogs are nearsighted, allowing them to barely recognize what they are seeing even at a distance of 20 feet while humans can recognize the same thing accurately even at a distance of 75 feet.

Technically, they might still be able to get a general idea but might not be able to recognize the details.

When it comes to images or videos on a screen, however, the matter is quite different. With a TV screen, they might still be able to make identifications and give reactions but phone screens are unlikely to lead to recognition (except in rare cases).

Flicker Sensitivity

Flicker sensitivity refers to the ability and speed of dogs (and other animals) to perceive movements and motion when it comes to what they are seeing in front of them and being able to record them into images in their brain.

Dogs have a much higher flicker sensitivity as compared to human beings, which means that they might be able to detect movements quite rapidly. However, because of this kind of rapidity, they might not be able to actually let the record of the movement stay still or captured in their brain.

This basically means that they might not be able to correctly identify or recognize what exactly is moving on the screen. What they see, then, is simply a flickering image and not an actual video.

So, if you need to video call your dog, it might not actually have the intended impact on them, so make sure you go into it being aware of this so that you do not end up disappointed!

Also Read: Are Stink Bugs Poisonous to Dogs?

Processing Speed

Processing speed in dogs is much faster as compared to humans, with the rate being as much as 25% quicker. This means that the perception of time is much different for dogs as compared to humans, allowing them to witness motion and scenes in front of them occurring much slower than you might imagine.

This kind of processing speed can be quite useful for dogs when it comes to matters of survival in the wild (which is how they have evolved) as well as in terms of the events that are taking place in front of them.

However, when it comes to moving images on a screen (especially a small phone screen), they are unlikely to be able to have enough time to actually determine or figure out what they are looking at.

Recognition and Identification

It is now clear that dogs do not have strong eyesight if you compare it with humans in terms of color, clarity and distance even though they have higher flicker sensitivity and a faster processing speed.

A phone screen can complicate this much more because it is quite small and has colors, elements and effects that dogs’ eyes are not quite used to seeing. What exactly does this mean?

While your dogs might be able to technically “see” the phone screens, it is not very likely for them to actually form some kind of association between what they are seeing and the real version of that person or object.

Pictures and Videos

Whether or not dogs can see phone screens can, based on the points that we have seen above, depend on whether the image is still or moving.

When it comes to movements or videos on the screen, they might only be able to understand that something is moving on the screen in front of them without understanding it any further. They can only see shapes and flickers instead of actual images that form the video.

When it comes to photos or images, however, the stillness of the picture might make it easier for the dog to process as well as understand what they are seeing, leading to a reaction. However, a phone screen might make this more difficult given its size and compression.

Also Read: Why Are My Dog’s Paws Pink and Black?

What Do Dogs See on Phone Screens?

Dogs have dichromatic vision, which means that they can only see the colors blue and yellow. Since you cannot control the colors on your phone screen, dogs only see a limited range of colors on phone screens, often making it difficult to recognize the difference between colors.

The clarity of what they see might also be a bit skewed when you compare it with how clearly humans can view phone screens that are closer to them.

Even then, you should note that dogs might not actually make it to actually figuring out what is happening on a phone screen because it is too tiny for their eyes to effectively deal with.

Can Phone Screens Harm Dogs?

Phone screens cannot directly harm the eyesight of dogs because your dogs are not likely to spend a long time in front of such phone screens. Since dogs cannot perceive or understand what is happening on the screen, they will not stay in one place in front of the screen in either case.

However, even when it comes to bigger screens, there is not enough research conducted to suggest that it might be bad for your dogs.

Some potential adverse impacts can be the occurrence of obesity and depression. In the case of the former, too much time in front of a screen might reduce the exercise or running around time, leading to them gaining weight.

Depression can occur if you spend more time on your phone and end up neglecting your dog.

Other Kinds of Stimuli in a Phone

We have established that you should not rely too much on your dog’s eyesight when it comes to recognizing what is happening on a phone screen. However, what about other kinds of stimuli?

Since sound is a major component of videos on phone screens, including live videos in the form of a video call, your dog might be able to recognize a familiar sound and react to it as long as the sound is clear and loud.

Also Read: Can Dogs Get In Hot Tubs?

The Final Word

To sum up, dogs can see phone screens and might rarely even be able to recognize an image on the screen. However, because phone screens are so small and the eyesight of dogs is not suited to such screens, they might have difficulty forming associations.

Videos are nearly out of the question, although they might react to the sound or audio.