Why Do Dogs Bark at Animals on TV?

Though most people enjoy kicking back with their favorite show or movie from time to time, dogs don’t quite understand what’s happening is not real life. 

Some dogs are unphased by the strange sights and sounds coming from the TV, but some dogs are triggered when another animal shows up on the screen. 

There are a few different reasons for why do dogs bark at animals on the  TV, and there are also several ways you can make your dog feel more at ease when they encounter this common trigger.


If your dog is excited to meet other animals, they’ll likely feel the same way about animals on TV. In this case, your dog will have a relaxed posture with a wagging tail and try to get the attention of a potential friend.

Fear or Confusion 

As mentioned above, some dogs don’t understand that images and sounds coming from the TV are not real life. Therefore, if they are fearful or tentative toward unfamiliar animals and think an animal is suddenly in their living room, it’s understandable your dog might bark out of anxiety.


It’s no secret dogs want to protect their territory. In fact, many dog owners specifically encourage this trait in their pets so they can trust their dog will keep the home safe and secure against intruders. 

Therefore, if your dog barks excessively at unfamiliar animals in an attempt to scare them away, they’re likely barking at the TV in an attempt to perform the same duty.

Prey Drive

Some dogs will only bark at other dogs they see or hear on the TV. Others will be on high alert at the sign of any animal. If your dog reacts to smaller animals like squirrels or rabbits, the program you’re watching may have set off your dog’s prey drive.

Ways to Stop Your Dog from Barking at the TV 

Excessive barking is a nuisance, especially if you’re just trying to relax and watch something on TV. Plus, most dog owners want their dogs to be happy and content rather than on high alert for no good reason. Let’s explore some of the ways you can work on your dog’s barking habit when it comes to the TV.

Reward Them for Quiet Behavior

The best way to teach a dog to change their behavior is to make the behavior you want to see more rewarding than the alternative. Find a TV show or movie that’s sure to have lots of dogs or other animals on screen, and get your dog’s favorite treats ready. 

You can start by rewarding your dog for keeping their attention on you despite the triggering images and sounds from the TV. Make sure to reinforce the good behavior with praise and a treat or two. Then, if they bark, you can reward them as soon as they stop. 

Many dog owners also associate this behavior with a “quiet” or “hush” command, which they can use in situations when they don’t have treats available. With time, your dog will associate the verbal cue with the treat, and treats won’t be necessary.

Use a Bark Collar 

Bark collars are an easy and effective way to communicate to your dog that excessive barking isn’t allowed. Pairing a product like this with rewards for good behavior is a great way to get your dog to stop barking at animals on TV. 

When a no-shock collar senses excess barking, it lets out a warning beep followed by a small vibration. These signals don’t hurt your dog, they just provide a gentle reminder to encourage quiet.

Make Sure They’re Properly Exercised 

When dogs have received enough mental and physical stimulation throughout the day, they’re much less likely to act out with unwanted behaviors like excessive barking, which can often stem from excess energy. 

Prioritize daily walks and play sessions with your pup and make sure they’re getting the attention they need to feel safe and comfortable.