I just adopted a new dog who has a strange trigger: she gets really upset and starts barking wildly when there is motion on the television, even backing out of the room in fear. I did a number of tests (spaced out across several hours to not stress her out too much) and found the following:
Things that don't bother her
- Nothing is displayed, but TV is on (ruling out being bothered by the TV making a high pitched sound that humans can't hear)
- A menu or other static screen
- Static pictures of an environment
- Me watching a show on an iPad with the volume up or playing a computer game with the volume up (ruling out that it's a noise issue)
Things that do bother her
- A cartoon with motion
- A live action scene with motion
- Both of the above when the volume is muted
What I found especially interesting was a video of someone doing a close up of some electronics. She was fine when the shot just showed the electronics sitting on a table, but as soon as a hand came on screen, and especially if the presenter manipulated the electronics (like opening a panel to reveal additional buttons), she started growling. I tried to comfort her, an eventually she deliberately tried to ignore watching the TV, but still seemed a bit on edge.
As described in Do dogs see television and computers the way we do?, dogs don't see screens like we do. Still, the motion seems to bother her and I'd hate to give up TV watching entirely. My apartment is kind of small, and so far she's preferred to stay within sight of me. How can I desensitize her to the television so that I can watch it normally?