Contrary to popular myths about hunting dog training wherein sports dogs retrieve bumpers, dogs do not see only in black and white. That idea was born from a single Dog Week magazine article that said dogs have poor vision and can only see single shades and outlines of an object. The reality is much different.
Not only are dogs capable of seeing color, but they also have advanced eyesight for detecting motion compared to humans. That is why so many people love to bring gun dogs along while hunting fowl or other quick-motion animals. Let’s get into a bit more of the details about a dog’s vision and how it will affect your training methods.
What are a Dog’s Eyes Like?
Hunting dogs aren’t color blind. They just have about one-tenth the number of cones in their eyes as humans do. So while they can see some colors, they cannot distinguish between many shades that we can see easily. In fact, researchers have indicated that dogs may see only two colors: blue and yellow.
However, it is also believed that the green and red receptors are less sensitive than the blue in a dog’s eye, so those colors may appear washed out, similar to what a colorblind human would see. It is not known if these fewer cones (like our rods) give dogs night vision better than humans or not due to differences in their eyes anatomy compared with humans (eye size and shape).
While color blindness is likely to play a role in your hunting dog training program, keep in mind that motion detection plays an even bigger one because of where a dog hunts. This tends to not always be out in the open but inside dense brush where seeing movement is critical for tracking prey.
How Do Different Colored Toys Stand Out in a Dog’s Vision
When you are training your dog, and he is on point at 200 yards, go to him and see what the first thing is that catches his eye. Let’s say it’s a tree with orange leaves. That means an orange bumper or dummy is going to be difficult for him to see. You can try a white dummy/bumper or something that contrasts with the backdrop. If you are hunting over stubble corn, then maybe a blue bumper would work well, but if there are trees in the background, then maybe a yellow or white one will pop better.
Every dog has different eyes. Some dogs can pick out colors better than others but as long as your dog can see the object without fail, then choose the training bumper that works best for his eyes and environment.
Toys can provide great motivation for training, and using different colors in your dog’s toys will help you get the most out of them. Consider using bright-colored toys to catch your hunting dog’s attention at a distance. You can also use different colored toys to teach your hunting dog to discriminate between items (for example, retrieve only the blue ball). This is an essential part of training your hunting dog on how to locate specific items or people and search for particular objects.
How Should You Adapt Your Sport Dog Training?
Start by picking out those colors sure to garner a response from your gun dog. Then pick up retrieving dummies that mimic the feel, size, and shape of the type of target fowl you will be hunting. Once you have this combination, hunting dog training becomes more of a repetition exercise than a concern over eyesight.
As your dog learns appropriate behavior and is rewarded for successful retrievals of training dummies, you can introduce new toys with other colors to make the tasks harder. The most important thing is the call and response to your commands and the relationship you have cultivated with your pup. It does not hurt to have a few different training tools handy based on how the sun is coloring the environment, the time of year, and how it affects leaves or even the current reflection style of the water.
For example, watch someone trying to play fetch with a brown stick in winter brown grass. The dog will have a much harder time playing because of the lack of contrast. Go and compare that to any of the Kennel club events where they have ladders, platforms, and other apparatuses in bright blues, yellows, and whites. This tells the dog what to watch out for next and how to adjust its body to achieve success.
Where to Pick Up Training Dummies for Hunting Dogs
Huntmark has been providing premium training dummies for sports dogs for years. We focus on enhancing the hunting experience by creating safe, durable, and color-contrasting training bumpers and accessories so you can perfect your hunting dog’s skills long before the season has started.
All of our products are designed with the luminance, orientation, motion, depth, and optical texture you would want when working with your pup. Visit our store today and see for yourself the excellent line of products available for your hunting dog. When it is time to elevate your gun dog’s skills, it’s time for Huntmark.