According to Melese, the reason is biological: Dog (and cat) eyes register images faster than our own, which means our pets need a higher rate of frames per second, or refresh rate, to see a complete image. When a dog watches an older television set, where the refresh rate is lower, the image appears to be flickering like an old movie. Similar to a person faced with bad reception, most dogs will just tune it out, or ignore the blurry television completely.
In today’s new golden age of television, this has quickly changed. “With the development of LCD displays, high-definition television and increased refresh rates, dogs and cats are starting to believe it because they see a fused image now — they don’t see all the moving lines,” Melese explains. “The more believable an image is to us, the more believable it is to a 2- or 3-year-old who doesn’t intellectually understand what it means yet, and, of course, the more believable it is to our animals.”