Julie Zickefoose’s post on Thursday, January 18, “Alpha Bird,” told the tale of an amusing incident between her dog, Chet Baker, and her macaw, Charlie. In the comments, she noted that Chet “won't look at the pictures on the computer screen, but he turns his head when I try to show them to him. Charlie, on the other hand, loves to look at pictures of himself and people he knows. It's a difference in brain organization between birds and dogs, I would guess.”
That stimulated a question from Sara: “I've wondered if dogs can see an image clearly on the computer screen; my dog won't look either. Any idea? KatDoc are you out there ?”
I punted a quick answer in Julie’s comment section, but since then, have fleshed out a more detailed response.
Over the years, my own dogs and cats have noticed rapid motion on the TV, and
I was always taught that dogs couldn’t see photographs or images on TV or computer monitors, that they couldn’t grasp a two dimensional image and convert it into a recognizable object. That ability was thought to be limited to primates and birds. (Aside: My own thought is that for dogs, sense of smell is much more important than vision when it comes to object recognition. Since photos and TV pictures don’t include smell-o-vision, dogs don’t experience those images like they do the real live thing.)
A study released in November of 2007 busts that myth wide open. A research group led by
Here’s what they did: First, they taught four dogs to discriminate between photographs of dogs or photos of landscapes on a computer monitor, using 40 different pictures of each type. They rewarded the dogs with a food treat each time they selected a dog picture instead of a landscape. Then, they conducted a two-part experiment.
In part one, they asked the test dogs to choose between pictures of landscapes or dogs, but this time they used new photos, not the ones the dogs had been trained on. The dogs were able to correctly select the dog pictures, demonstrating that they recognized the category differences.
Next, the researchers tried to trick their subjects by showing them new dog photos superimposed over familiar landscape pictures. When asked to choose between “new dog/old landscape” versus “no dog/new landscape,” the dogs chose the pictures that contained dogs.
So, according to this study, not only can dogs see a two-dimensional image, they can learn to sort those images into categories.
argillaceous Clay-like; of, relating to, or containing clay or clay minerals. From the Latin argilla. Argil means clay, especially potter's clay.
"You might say my jeans are dirty after pottery class, but I prefer to call them argillaceous."