Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The world from your dog's eyes

In one of my classes, I have a Boston Terrier, who's eyes are set apart quite far and off to the side of his head. His owners, laughing said, we think he is dumb.... because he could not find the kibble that fell on the floor!, I thought this would make an interesting blog topic today because many pet parents, and even trainers are unaware of this.

Everyone wonders what the world looks like from their dogs eyes. I am sure you have encountered a moment when all of a sudden you turn to your dog and say "I wonder what you are seeing." Maybe in some cases it has not been much of a wonder, but a "what in the heck do you see that you barking your head off at?"

Either way, its quite a fascinating thought. Have you ever wondered if every dog sees the world in the same way? Do you think all dogs see the same things? or see things in the same manner?

I have quite often wondered about that, but feel that every dog sees things differently. I am not referring to their thought process when I say they "see things differently" like when talking about humans. For example, lets say you are on a walk with your dog, and someone rides by on a bicycle. To one dog (that has never seen a bicycle) he/she may see it as a moving object, and nothing else. To another dog who has never seen a bicycle before, it mean mean a moving object that will not stop.

I know for some deep thinkers this maybe a hard concept to visualize, but keep it simple for the purpose of the point I am trying to convey.

Take a close look at the difference in the position of the eyes and the shape of the eyes, in the two dogs below:

Notice, the Boston's eyes are set off more to the side, on a broader head, and are also more bulgier than the Greyhound's eyes. Their eyes are placed laterally. The Greyhound's eyes are set closer to one another, and the head is more narrow and the snout is protruding outwards. This is called forward placement. Dog's with lateral placement don't have a big overlap between the right and left eye sight, making things in close proximity difficult to see.

it is why if you have ever seen a Boston trying to find the kibble that fell out of his bowl, ends up stepping on it, and only sees is when he step back... then he steps back in and its lost again. Now comes in the sense of smell, to narrow it down to finding it.

Placement of eyes has a lot to do with the the way dogs see their world, but the biggest difference in the anatomy of a dog's eye, is that a some dog's such as Greyhounds have a "visual streak," while other like the Boston Terriers have an "area centralis."

The difference between a vision streak and area centralis is the positioning for high density vision cells. In dogs with a vision streak, these cells are placed in a straight line to the retina. In dogs with an area centralis, the vision cells are in a circle in a spot, providing a very detailed sight much like humans.

On the same note, it is why those dogs with a visual streak may chase a bicycle. They see all the way around, and can see the bike coming, and in its peripheral vision, where as the Boston only sees it in a flash.

So maybe it is fair to assume, those dogs who like to hunt or chase have a visual streak, while those who pay close attention to your facial expressions when you ask them to sit, and are not easily destructed by the wide world around them, have an area centralis.