Why Dogs Just Can’t Seem To Recognize Us On Our Phones And Tablets

Don’t blame Rover if he’s not very responsive to your video chats. Scientists say dogs have a hard time viewing (and making sense of what they see on) small screens.

“Dogs perceive the world largely by smell. This makes any virtual presence confusing for them, since the way they recognize us is missing,” Dr. Jennifer Golbeck, a computer scientist at the University of Maryland in College Park, who has studied the ways in which dogs interact with technology, told The Huffington Post in an email. “Also, dogs just have a hard time looking at screens. In our research with dogs and video chat, it takes a lot to get them to pay attention to the screen.”

No screen sense. Previous studies showed that dogs are able to recognize their owners in images. And when they’re encouraged to look at faces on a computer screen, they tend to gaze longer at familiar faces (such as their owner’s) than at strangers’ faces. But dogs seem to have a particularly hard time making sense of moving images.

“When we watch frames on a screen, what we’re really seeing is images that are flickering even though they appear to be continuously changing,” Dr. Laurie Santos, director of the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., told The Huffington Post in an email. “A dog’s ‘flicker rate’ is a bit different than ours.”

While a simple video chat may appear to us to change continuously, dogs take in visual information at least 25 percent faster than humans do — which could make that video look like a strange, jerky series of images to them.

One size doesn’t fit all. The small screen of a smartphone or tablet may make it even harder —> Read More