I had a question in class a couple of weeks ago about how well dogs can see. The question came from someone with two dogs. They had noticed that there were times when Charlie, the dog I was working with, didn’t seem to recognize the other one.
“That’s your brother out there. Can’t you see who that is in the yard?”
Well, maybe not. It might have been easy for us to see – and recognize – another dog out in the yard, but it may not have been that easy for Charlie. One key to understanding our dogs – and understanding their behavior – is to understand how their senses differ from ours.
When it comes to your dog’s vision, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Your dog has less color vision than you. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do see more than black and white. However, they are red and green color blind. They don’t see those two colors. So if you throw a red Frisbee and it lands on the green grass, your dog may have a hard time finding it! The colors that are most visible to dogs are yellow and violet.
- Your dog has less visual acuity than you. Visual acuity refers to clarity. So when you see something crystal clear fifty feet away, your dog may see that same thing but it will be fuzzier to Fido and he may not be able to figure out exactly what (or who) he sees.
- Your dog is better at detecting motion. The motion sensors in your dog’s eyes are 10 to 20 times better than yours. So if your dog tends to be reactive – to other dogs, to other moving things – you may have to be extra vigilant to spot something before your dog reacts. On the other hand, you can also use this fact to your advantage to get your dog’s attention. Rather than just calling. “Fido, Fido,” try waving your hands or moving your body to get your dog’s attention.
- Your dog has better night vision. The physical design of a dog’s eyes allows more light in low-light situations. So again, if you’re walking your dog at night, he’s likely to spot something interesting before you do.
You can get an idea of what your dog sees by checking out this website. There’s also an app for Android devices that you can use to see what your dog sees.
What sorts of things have you noticed about your dog that might tell you what he is or isn’t seeing?