What Does My Dog See?

What colors do you think a dog can see? Normally when I ask that I will get two different answers. The first being that dogs are color blind and can only see in black, shades of gray, and white. The second answer that I hear is that dogs can only see brightness of a color but not actually the color. Both myths are incorrect. Dogs do definitely see color; the just do not see shades of red, orange, or green. To them those colors look the shades of browns to yellow. Dogs do see blue and purple will look bluish to them also. You wonder why so many dog toys, dishes, beds, etc. are made in colors that your dog has a hard time seeing? It is because of us as consumers. We associate specific feelings to various colors and we try to portray those feelings to our dog through our color choices. Marketing experts know this so they make sure dog toys fit specific images in our minds in order for use to buy them for our dog. Below shows what the colors a human can see and next to it is the corresponding color that the dog sees.


Human Color Range                                                   Dog Color Range

A dog does have issues with seeing accurately. Their eyes do not capture as much detail as a human eye. Their ability is around six times poorer than an average human. If it were possible for a dog to read the eye chart in a doctor’s office, our 20/20 vision would compare for them in the range of 20/50. This would mean that dogs are near sighted. The image below is what your dog can see and what you can see. The one image for the dog shows the lines much thicker. This is so the dog can distinguish the detail. It is almost like when we have to use readers just to see the detail and read the newspaper! Wonder if we could buy the dogs glasses. Mmmm….just kidding!

With this knowledge we need to use it to our advantage when trying to communicate with our dogs. We know how they view the world, so why do we insist on training them in a way that is easy for us. You must realize that if a dog doesn’t get what we are trying to teach them, it is our fault not theirs. By using color when training it will give us a greater advantage for them to understand what it is that we ask. For example if you want to train your dog to retrieve a ball, and the grass is green and the ball is orange, by looking at the chart above look how hard that would be for the dog to find it. Agility handlers know that depending on the venue the color of clothes that they wear will affect the dog’s ability to follow their commands. By having the dogs bowl, bed, or toys visually stand out for them makes it much easier for the dog to engage in an activity.

By paying attention to the colors your dog can see actually helps your dog learn faster. Avoid reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. All will look shades of yellow to brown to your dog. Also take notice of your wall colors and what you are wearing especially when trying to get your dogs attention or working on the focus or watch me command. If you blend in your dog may have a hard time seeing you when you call them to come.

Did you know that because of a dogs peripheral vision of 280 degrees they can actually be walking 3-4 feet in front of you and still see you? Also if you stand directly in front of your dog face to face, because of their nose they actually don’t even see the center of your face. It is always best to approach your dog from the side in order for them to see you fully.

Working with color with our puppies is just another way Training Canines is different from many trainers.   Visit our site at www.trainingcanines.com or on Facebook 

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