If you've ever found yourself on the road or away from your four-legged friend, you've probably been tempted to check in with a quick FaceTime call just to say "hi".
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.