Differences Between a Dog and a Human’s Visual Perception
I’ve always been unable to completely understand the difference in my dog’s vision as compared to my own. It’s as if I cannot step out of my own realm of vision to expose myself to how my dog views the same world we both live in. It’s even in the most simple of things, for instance, how she views a movie as compared to how I view it, the lack of color she is exposed to as compared to the vibrancies of colors I see every day, and her ability to see in the dark as if it were the middle of the day whereas my vision, even when it has grown used to the dark, is still fuzzy and not very sharp. My dog’s sense of vision is not the one she relies on like humans do, but rather, hearing and smell are what guide her through every day life.
When comparing a human’s vision, like my own, to a dog’s vision, it is as if what one lacks, the other supports. While dogs are able to detect sudden movement off in a distance, humans can detect objects that are not moving at a far distance better than a dog can. Their abilities to see sudden movement compared to seeing stationery objects is mostly due to their prey factor outweighing the other. This is why an animal, such as a rabbit, will stay still the moment it detects that a dog is around because the dog will not likely see the rabbit unless it makes a sudden move to get away. Humans also have the ability to see things clearer when they are close up as well, whereas dogs cannot. This would explain why my dog will sit at my sliding door window and bark continuously at a white, plastic bag until I let her out to go see what it really is. Her perception is blurred because of how far back in the woods the bag is, but the fact that it is fluttering around from the wind makes her think it is an animal of some sort.
Motion is a big factor in a dog’s vision, and they need more of it to see things clearer and understand what exactly they are seeing. Take a movie, for instance; a dog needs more frames in a second in order to understand the scene and what is going on. Their vision is reliant on fast moving objects to detect what they are seeing, and even then they may have no idea. This is where the difference of colors comes in when comparing what a human sees and what a dog sees. A dog’s ability to see color is a lacking factor, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I would hate to see a dog’s colors over my own. Dogs cannot make out the difference between reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. For instance, in the picture below, a human’s view of a human is distinctively different than a dog’s view of a human.
A dog’s inability to see details like humans do goes hand-in-hand with their slight color-blindness. Although a dog’s vision is not completely black and white, like humans often believe, it is not a far way off from that. Dogs are not ability to tell the difference between greens and grays, along with most other colors on the color scale. This may have some relation to their ability to see in the dark due to the fact that their eyes are not used to color in the first place. Therefore, their eyes do not need to adjust to the dark the way a human’s eyes would need to, but rather, they see the world almost entirely the way they see it during the day. A dog’s view of color affects the toys they play with as well, which was something I was unaware of until getting deeper into the subject. In the picture below, a tennis ball is viewed the same, whether it be through a human’s eyes or a dog’s eyes. Whereas, every other colored ball would not be perceived the same way by a dog as it would a human; instead, it would blend in with the rest of the world which may be why many dogs do not even make the effort to go after it, depending on the background.
The difference in a human’s color vision and a dog’s color vision is the fact that dog’s have fewer cones which makes their vision lack the color that humans see. Humans have different types of cones which gives them a widespread of color, whereas a dog’s wavelength of light is limited and dull because they do not have a variety of cones. The differences in wavelength for humans and dogs can be viewed below. While a dog does not only see black, white, and grey, their color is very limited and borderlines what humans believe is color-blindness in dogs.
Needless to say, the seasons Spring, Summer and Fall do not affect a dog, which would be very disheartening for a person like myself. My dog’s view of life is almost completely different from my own, and I understand why she does the things she does and her reasoning for it. I live inside my own life so much sometimes that I don’t always step outside of the box and look at how others, even dogs, portray this world that we live in together. I feel that my dog and I benefit each other, and although she does not see too much color, her abilities to notice sudden movements and see in the dark help to protect me and that puts me in a better state of mind. So I will go on living in my dominant visual world while she focuses hers on hearing and smelling, and I will better understand her and how to help her perceive the world, plastic bags and all, the way she sees it and the way it really is.
Coren, Stanley. “Can Dogs See Colors?” Psychology Today (2008): n. pag. Psychology Today. Canine Corner, 20 Oct. 2008. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.
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Mathiesen, Shawn. “The World Through a Dog’s Eyes, Ears, and Nose.” Chestertown Spy. N.p.,7 August 2012. Web. 16 February 2013.