Can a dog see FaceTime?
Ever Wondered If Your Dog Actually Understands a FaceTime Call? 3 Vets Explain
My sister recently brought home her first puppy, and while she’s excited, she wants to make sure the whole family feels connected to the puppy. Her kids are going off to college soon and she wanted to know if they can still interact with their dog when they’re away. So she wondered: Can dogs understand phone or video calls?
I’m no stranger to trying to have phone and FaceTime chats with my dog when I’m away. When I’m out of town for work, I often ask my husband to let my dog hear or see me on the phone. I’m not all that sure she quite understands, although sometimes she does perk up her ears and I swear she seems a little excited. POPSUGAR spoke to several vets to determine if we’re wasting our time trying to FaceTime our pets.
Can Dogs Understand Phone or Video Calls?
There’s no hard evidence for sure, but it usually depends on the dog, experts say. «Each dog is different, and while some dogs may react to hearing their owner’s voice or seeing their face through a device, other dogs might not show any interest at all,» Heidi Cooley, DVM, a veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital, told POPSUGAR. «If you’re missing your dog while away from home, it can’t hurt to have someone who is with them put your voice on speaker phone or hold up a video call to see if you get a reaction. If anything, it can help you feel closer to your dog until you’re reunited.»
Typically, dogs are more likely to understand phone calls and not so much video calls, added Zay Satchu, DVM, co-founder and Chief Veterinary Officer at Bond Vet. «Video calls are often lost in translation to the dog world due to their poor vision of small and up close objects. The brightness of the screen, combined with the small size, makes the image hard to focus on for them, and it is likely very distorted. However, they usually can pick up on the sound of their owner’s voice.»
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Understands a Phone or Video Call?
Signs that your dog might recognize your face or voice can include head tilting, ear perks, tail wagging, whining or barking. «Body language that shows alertness can indicate that they are hearing you through the phone,» Dr. Satchu said. «You can try giving a well-known command, but this is often a poor indicator because they are smart enough to know you aren’t present to reinforce the behavior — aka no treats for being a good boy.»
Dr. Cooley adds that if your dog doesn’t react at all to your voice or face on the phone, «Don’t take it personal. They are probably one of the many dogs that don’t respond to faces or voices on phones or tablets.»
Are There Benefits to Talking to Your Dog When You’re Away?
Besides increasing the bonding for the humans involved, pets can be comforted by the sound of their pet parent’s voice. «I’ve seen some dogs react positively to familiar voices or sounds,» says Paul M. Cunningham, DVM, senior clinician, emergency service, at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Michigan. «I’ve specifically seen this with boarding or hospitalized pets who get to hear their owner’s voice on the phone — they perk up, wag their tail, and generally seem more attentive.»
Could There Be Any Downsides to Calling or Video Chatting Your Dog?
Perhaps. Though many dogs may be comforted by the sound of their family’s voice, others may feel more anxious afterward. «For the nervous dog with a history of separation anxiety, hearing a familiar voice could potentially worsen their anxiety,» says Dr. Cunningham.
«I’ve witnessed this type of dog become frantic, looking for the owner of the disembodied voice,» he told POPSUGAR. «What was meant to be a loving act has actually had negative effects. I have never witnessed a dog responding — for better or worse — to just to the picture or video of an owner.»
Should Pet Parents Try Digitally Connecting With Their Dog?
Dr. Satchu recommends you think about how your dog normally feels when you’re gone. «Is he the couch potato, snooze-all-day type — or is he the pace-around-until-you-return type? This may help give you an idea of whether or not hearing your voice while you are not around is a good thing for them.»
Why Dogs Understand What We Say But Still Don’t Get FaceTime
Dogs can understand what humans say and how we say it, a groundbreaking new study has found. But while man’s best friend is smarter than most animals, dogs are still not that technologically savvy.
Scientists who studied brain activity in some dogs say canines can distinguish words and the intonation of human speech the way humans do. A group of trained dogs in Hungary helped researchers make that discovery by undergoing fMRI brain scans while listening to audio recordings of their trainers. The researchers found that certain words sparked activity in different hemispheres of the brain.
But while evidence shows dogs can register and understand audio recordings, experts say pet owners should expect their four-legged friends to blatantly ignore them during video chats through FaceTime or Skype.
“When you hear someone live or you hear someone via headphones, there’s not much of a difference for dogs, but seeing someone live or on a screen seems to be very different,” said Dr. Attila Andics, a research fellow at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest who led the new dog cognition study published in the journal Science.
Andics said his team has previously run several studies on how dogs process small screens. They found that while dogs realize they are looking at a human’s face on screen, the stimulus isn’t enough for them to recognize it’s their owner on the other side. “Realistic size matters,” he said. “If the size is not realistic, you become something small in a little box.”
Andics added that more studies using brain imaging will attempt to unravel the mystery behind exactly what dogs can understand, including tests to find out whether the animals can process grammar and syntax. “This is a very exciting field of research. I think it’s really exciting,” he said. “Human language research is just enormous. This is just the first study on dogs. We will see what ways open up for us.”
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Should I FaceTime My Pet?
Connecting with a familiar furry face can hit the spot when you’re far from home, but what do your pets see when they look into that screen? And, while you certainly can FaceTime with anyone or anything that you please, is FaceTiming with a pet worth it for either of you? FaceTiming with dogs When it comes to FaceTiming with dogs, the person on the other end of the call is definitely getting more out of the connection than the canine in question. According to National Geographic, dogs have trouble recognizing their human counterparts via technology like FaceTime for a number of reasons, including size proportions, and the use of their senses. When it comes to how dogs see their owners through various forms of technology, the disproportionate representation of size is what really trips them up. Dogs are used to seeing their human take up a certain amount of space relative to the things around them, so when they are shown just a small, floating head on a tablet or phone, they aren’t quite able to connect the dots that what they are looking at is even a person. Furthermore, dogs tend to rely on their sense of smell more than their sense of sight to identify things, including their owners. This can ring especially true for dogs with longer snouts, who are adept at spotting things from great distances but often struggle to focus on or recognize things close up. Additionally, dogs have trouble recognizing images on screen thanks to something known as flicker sensitivity. This measures the rate at which an eye can distinguish motion. Because dogs have eyes that are more flicker sensitive than those of a person, images on a phone or computer screen tend to look more like an onslaught of nonsensical shapes and flashes of light than an actual human form. FaceTiming with cats Unlike dogs, cats are able to have a different, and slightly more successful, experience when it comes to connecting with their owners over FaceTime. When it comes to a cat’s eyes, the blue light emitted from our phone and tablet screens actually works to their advantage. While cats are known for being largely red-green colorblind, the blue light allows them to see more colors, and therefore, may be able to make out shapes more easily than dogs, like the shape of their human companion. Other ways to communicate With all of the above information to consider, one thing is certain — FaceTiming with your pet certainly won’t hurt. As long as the sound of your voice isn’t leading them to run around looking for you in a panic, using technology to connect with your pets can be a great way to set your own mind at ease from afar and quickly visit with your companion. While some animals may have a hard time seeing you on screens, hearing you may not be so tough. If your pet seems to not recognize your face while FaceTiming, try talking to her and see if the sound of your voice may be easier to pick up. If your pet does seem to respond to either the sight of your face or the sound of your voice via FaceTime or other apps, using technology to communicate will only help strengthen your bond, which offers rewards for the both of you. According to Scientific American, owners who engaged with their dogs regularly to form a close relationship measured higher levels of oxytocin in their urine than those who don’t. As for the dogs, a bonded pet tends to stick close to their human companions thanks to the attachment formed between the pair. Source: Cuteness