Kristin is a dog agility instructor and competitor with 20 years in the sport.
Do Dogs See in Only Black and White?
Growing up, I had heard that dogs see in black and white. It was easy for me to imagine how a dog saw the world as black and white televisions were still fairly common when I was a child. Watching black and white Lassie episodes, I was able to see exactly what I believed Lassie saw. Her black and white world was right there on my TV set.
I have since learned that dogs see more colors than just black and white. However, they do not see the color spectrum that most humans see. Dogs, it turns out, are color blind.
How Do Dogs See Color?
"Cones" on the retinas at the back of our eyes allow us to see colors. Typically, most people have three sets of cones. Dogs and humans with color blindness have only two. This means dogs can see in shades of blues, yellows, and grays. However, dogs have more "rods" in their eyes, which gives them better night vision.
Check out the two color spectrums below to get a sense of the colors people can see versus what dogs can see.
The Dog's Color Spectrum
The Human's Color Spectrum
You may be thinking while knowing a dog's color spectrum is an interesting piece of trivia, it really doesn't matter from a dog training perspective. After all, we aren't training dogs to drive, so it doesn't matter if they can see red stop signs or green lights. However, with the upswing in fast-paced canine sports, the dog's color vision becomes a very important piece of knowledge that can help keep the dogs safe.
Why Does a Dog's Color Eyesight Matter in Canine Sports?
Take for instance the sport of agility, where a dog runs at top speed through an obstacle course. The dog must take the obstacles in a certain sequence, and each course is laid out differently. A handler has only a millisecond to communicate to the dog which obstacle is next. Poorly timed communication can not only result in the dog taking a "wrong course" obstacle, it can result in the dog miscalculating a jump or obstacle, "crashing," and possibly injuring him or herself.
To ensure that the millisecond communication between handler and dog is clear, handlers work for years to train their dog to read the slightest physical cues such as hand signals, deceleration of forward motion, proper shoulder placement, footwork, and much, much more. These cues are perfectly placed and timed for the exact moment the dog will need that communication. Yet, if a handler is dressed in brown and is running on brown dirt in a horse arena with dull tan walls, all of the handler's hours and hours of preparation may be for naught if the dog cannot clearly and quickly visually distinguish the handler.
This information from the handler is coming at the dog fast and furious. Except for occasional verbal information, almost all of the cues are non-verbal. The dog needs to respond to this information immediately. Fast dogs cannot take a second glance to see if they read that information properly. To help the dog, handlers must stand out visually from their background so that a fast-moving animal can see them.
Wear Contrasting Clothing
I learned this concept from my fast dog, Asher. We usually compete in horse arenas on brown dirt with dirty white walls and fencing. I noticed from videos of our runs that when I wore one of my favorite tan agility shirts Asher wouldn't see some of my physical cues. He wasn't intentionally ignoring them. He appeared to simply not see them. Yet, when I wore shirts that contrasted with the background, he appeared to see all of my physical cues.
After several weekend agility trials taped with my tan shirt and other contrasting shirts, I saw the pattern and discovered that Asher did better if he could see me better.
Of course, this is obvious when you stop and think about it.
Good Color Contrast in Clothing
Blue May Be the Clue
If I am going to be showing in an arena with a dirt surface and dirty white or gray walls, I will choose shirts that are in the blue spectrum. This can include bluish-purple shirts. I also can wear black. I avoid reds, oranges, yellows, and greens as they will become shades of yellow and brown. I also avoid solid whites as they can blend with the white walls.
If I am going to be competing on soccer turf with white walls or walls covered in advertisements, I again choose blue shirts unless the soccer turf is a bluish-green. I can also wear black. I avoid reds, oranges, yellows and greens, and solid whites. Remember, green looks like yellow to a dog.
A handler also needs to pay attention to the color of their shorts or pants. They may even want to think about wearing long pants if they'll be running on dirt, as all colors of human skin could blend easily into the colors of a dirt agility surface. By wearing pants, handlers can make themselves stand out better from the background.
This clothing contrast concept would be important not only for agility but for almost all dog sports—from obedience to disc dog. Anytime a handler gives the dog a visual cue, it will help if the dog can see that cue clearly the instant it is delivered.
Poor Clothing Choice
Good Contrasting Clothing
Dog Training Equipment Color Matters Too
But clothing is not the only consideration when it comes to understanding color contrast for the dog. Training equipment must also be taken into consideration.
For disc dogs, this would mean knowing the basic colors of the environment where the dog will be competing and using flying discs that will contrast with that color.
If a disc competition is being held in a park with green grass and blue skies, then the discs need to be in shades of dark blue, white, or black.
If a disc competition will be held in a park in the winter with dried, brown grass and gray skies, then discs in shades of blue, white, pink, purple, or black would be best seen.
For agility, this also means that agility clubs and schools need to have a full understanding of what colors dogs see when choosing paint colors for their equipment.
Many agility titling organizations have rules on color options for contact zones (see video above), and most clubs go with yellow. If going with yellow, then the other color on the contact equipment should be a shade of blue. This way, if a dogwalk sits on a dirt brown surface, the yellow contact zone may be harder for the dog to see, but the rest of the dogwalk's up-ramp will be easily seen.
Conversely, if a dogwalk painted yellow and blue sits on a bluish rubber surface, the dog may not see the blue part of the dog walk as easily, but it can very easily determine the yellow contact zone, allowing it to safely find the up-ramp.
However, using contact equipment painted yellow and red on a brown or green running surface will cause the equipment to easily blend into the background as everything will be shades of yellow and brown.
Remember, dogs don't see red. Instead, they will see shades of yellow and brown. I believe contact equipment is best if painted the usual, albeit boring, yellow contact zones with contrasting blue bodies. Then, no matter the surface and background, some part of the equipment will pop out to the dog as it heads to the up-ramp.
Colored agility jumps must be considered, too. Red, yellow and green jumps will all be shades of yellow and brown. If they are located on a brown or green surface, the dog is seeing it all as shades of yellow and brown. The white bars do help, but solid white jumps with contrasting blue tape or bright blue jumps with white bars would probably be among the best color choices.
Painting Tables for Contrast
A trend I am seeing in agility is to paint pause tables yellow. This is causing many dogs to run by the tables when the tables are placed on dirt surfaces as the yellow will "blend" into the brown. Handlers are often befuddled as to why their usually consistent dog avoided the table when the simple fact is that the dog just didn't see it.
Dog safety is the most important consideration for any dog agility handler, and clubs need to be paying more attention to the colors of the trial sites where their equipment will be used. Based on that information, clubs need to choose equipment colors that will help the dogs see the equipment easily and quickly.
Other dog sports need to take dogs' color blindness into consideration as well. From flyball to obedience competitions, teams can gain an edge by paying attention to contrasting colors from the dog's perspective.
Understanding Color Vision in Dogs is Important for All Types of Training
Even when training a house dog, this knowledge is helpful. If asking a house dog to learn to fetch a stick on winter brown grass, it will be harder for the dog to see where the stick is thrown. Instead, use a toy in shades of blue on that winter brown.
For the house dog, it might be wise to make the dog's "things" color contrasting to the environment. From dog bowls to beds to toys, having them visually stand out to the dog will make them easier for the dog to identify and might make them more engaging to the dog.
This information becomes a bit obvious once it is pointed out, but paying attention to contrasting colors in dog training can help your dog learn faster and stay safer as you both play together.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why do dogs hate orange if they can’t see it? It can’t be a coincidence that dogs generally dislike the hi-vis jacket and bag of the postman and, in particular, my orange broom, can it?
Answer: I suspect your dogs dislike those things not because of the color, but because of what they do. Some of my readers have said their dogs love orange. And dogs can SEE orange, just not in the same way we can. It will have a different hue to them.
Question: I have a step on my car to make it easier for my dog to get in and out of the car. The step is black and so is the blacktop. Should I paint the step white?
Answer: If he isn't having trouble seeing where the steps are, I wouldn't worry about it. If he seems unable to see them to navigate them safely, then I would consider painting them something to contrast with the blacktop or gray concrete.
Question: What is the best color to wear to a dog's agility trial with black floors and cream walls?
Answer: I would consider a lighter blue if I were running in that venue.
Question: What would be the best color for the handler to wear during field trials, such as duck retrieval?
Answer: In field sports, you are also needing to deal with the human color spectrum as guns are involved, I believe. I would ask your fellow competitors. Discussions about what colors dogs see has entered into all canine sports, and I am sure there are competitors in the field who have given this some thought. You most certainly first and foremost want to be visible to other hunters.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on April 01, 2017:
I was just at a beach about a little over a week ago. I think black would work very well depending on whether the beach is surrounded by black rocks or dark water. The beach I was on was sand colored with a blue ocean. I, personally, would choose a toy with different colors in it. My ball was blue and yellow, I believe. Blue worked great on the sand and yellow worked great in the water. I usually choose blue and yellow toys if possible, although there's nothing wrong with other colors. It's just easier for you dog to find a toy that has better color contrast.
james wilson on April 01, 2017:
What colour ball is best to play with on a beach. Ive just got orange, black, and white and black like a football off kong. Which would be best please.?
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 28, 2017:
That is very interesting information to know. I am sure that my cousin's wife who not only trains but also shows her dogs knows this information. I did not realize that dogs have better night vision than we humans. I had heard that about cats.
Lisa on December 16, 2016:
Thank you for writing this article. Preparing for a puppy in the new year, I wondered if colours would impact on some of the training tools so I decided to do a little research. You have done that already! This is so useful and I hope I make a better, informed choice when I make my purchases now. Thank you again.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on October 03, 2016:
That's a good question. Blue could be a real problem if the water is swimming pool blue. Depending on the water and the environment (Green grassy land? Brown earth? Blue sky? Gray sky? Blue water? Dark brown lake water?) I would contrast to the environment based on the color chart in the article (greens are yellow to a dog and reds are shades of brown.) Black might work, depending on how dark the water is. Yellow might be great depending on if the water is blue or greenish or brownish. A bumper with two different contrasting colors might be great - say black and yellow or black and bright orange. I think the color of the water, sky and surrounding ground at your dock diving venue would play a huge role in determining your color.
Carrie Morris on October 03, 2016:
What would be the best color for Dock Diving toys/bumpers
bindismom on June 15, 2016:
I think some dogs see differently than most....I have a double merle aussie and she will ALWAYS choose a pink toy over any other colour. This happens everywhere, no matter the ground colour or surface....
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on June 01, 2016:
I've seen my dogs run right by yellow tables on green turf. That would be yellow on yellow to the dog. They eagerly get on the table, so it was strange to see them run by, turn and look like, "Hey! There's a table there!"
Maria on June 01, 2016:
This could explain why my dog acted like he didn't see the table in competition. Our table at home is dark blue.
A very helpful article. Thanks!
JLS on May 17, 2016:
I've been doing agility since the mid-90's and have competed in 4 venues. I've lived through two-toned tunnels and solid color tunnels, striped bars and bare bars, and equipment of all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes. Generally, I've found that the dogs don't have a lot of trouble getting safely through the course no matter what the equipment looks like. The equipment color issue is usually a bigger concern for the handlers, particularly AKC competitors. As long as the dog has been reasonably well trained and can distinguish the obstacle from the background, it will get through the course just fine.
Jack Gabel on May 08, 2016:
thanks - often wondered why flagging the location of planted birds for bird-dog training with blaze orange trail tape seemed not to effect the drill - dog scents and points regardless of orange marker which is for the trainer to know where the bird is planted - I'll try finding a blue/yellow training/trialing outerwear - don't hunt, but do have a blaze orange vest for trialing where live fire is involved - rarely - we usually blank the birds - thanks again for the informative article
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on March 08, 2016:
I think it would depend on what the ground the ramp was sitting on looked like. If it's dark asphalt, then the lighter color would be better. :)
Joyce on March 08, 2016:
I am thinking of buying a ramp for my dogs to get into my grey truck. It is available in beige or grey. Would it be easier then for my dogs too see the lighter color/ beige since it is a contrast?
Daniel Robinson20 on February 12, 2016:
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on February 03, 2016:
Clean Run has some dog toys made specifically for dogs' vision. You can Google "Clean Run Agility" to find them. I love their Lotus ball treat ball. My baby sheltie Aenon LOVES his.
Brian McDowell from USA on February 03, 2016:
This irks me even with dog toys. Nothing like having nothing but green or red balls to choose from when I often play on a grassy field...Can a man who loves his dog get stark white, or at least yellow or blue or something with white and black markings?
I even notice this when playing at home. His FAVORITE ball is a foam baseball that's white and black. He can see it very well. His too-big-for-him-but-soft toy soccer ball he sees easily. It's just...too big for him to carry (hits the ground when he walks). I also have a blue and yellow ball and take both depending on what surface we're on.
Why dog toy makers make things in colors hard for DOGS to see? It just makes me SMH.
I try to keep my clothes in mind, though I'm guilty of the football jersey sometimes. I try to wear black or white on some part of me.
Lisa VanVorst from New Jersey on February 03, 2016:
This was a very interesting article. I have had dogs my whole life and always thought they only see in black and white. Thanks for the info.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on February 03, 2016:
Debbie L. Very interesting as where I trial, we are always indoors on horse arena dirt or soccer turf. When on dirt, the contacts get cleaned at each course build, and sometimes at each walk through. I am surprised that isn't done everywhere. I hope the exhibitors in the Pacific NW start pushing their clubs to pay attention to that safety detail. Sheltiemom...Thank you!! Yes, I do love Shelties. :)
sheltiemom on February 03, 2016:
Good job to those little shelties! Their intelligence and agility knows no bounds yet they are often underutilized.
Debbie L. on February 03, 2016:
One thing you didn't mention, that I've noticed here in the damp Pacific Northwest, is that when running on some dirt, the yellow contact areas often become nearly brown by the end of the day (or, especially, the end of a 3-day trial). Some arenas are worse than others, I think because some dirt has more clay in it. Even to me, the dirty yellow blends into the dirt and is hard to see. It's an issue for run-by's but also for discriminations (which almost always involve a contact). Maybe we should be paying more attention to cleaning contacts during a trial, in these circumstances?
Armi from Kuopio, Savo, Finland on February 02, 2016:
It's really strange how dogs can still easily recognize different colours even thought they're colour blind!!
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on January 07, 2016:
Now that I have this information, it is fun to watch the dogs struggle to see different colors. I have a soft flying disc that is blue on one side and yellow on the other. If it lands with the yellow side up, the dogs struggle to find it. If it lands with the blue side up, they see it quickly.
Dog toy makers are starting to make toy colors based on this information. The last toy I bought was made for dogs' vision and was blue and yellow.
Rachelle W on January 07, 2016:
Great article - it also explains why my girl can't find her red Kong when it's next to the tan baseboard. :)
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on December 29, 2015:
There appears to be some debate about a dog's ability to see "bright" colors. That said, I would reconsider your Packer's shirt if you are running on soccer turf or green grass. If you are running on dirt, you might consider green. It would be a dark yellow on brown. You also have to take into consideration the walls too. I love my Patriot's shirt, and I do wear it if I am not running against a cluttered background. The blue stands out. I saw some old throwback (WAY throwback) Green Bay jersey's on line that were a blue with a yellow number. They were cool looking. I think they must date back to the 20s or 30s.
Personally, I find my dogs see me best if I am in black (as long as the venue has good lighting). I am slowly switching my agility wardrobe to more black and dark blue.
As for tie dye, that would probably depend on the tie dye colors and on the background. Tie dye would not work well against a cluttered background. I think a blue tie dye would work well for most venues (except for blueish/green soccer turf).
Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment. :)
Eden Le Bouton on December 29, 2015:
I didn't know dogs are color blind. I compete in agility and I always choose bright clothes because I thought that would enable my dog to see me better. Unfortunately for me, I have to ditch my green and gold Green Bay Packer t-shirts. Lots of people wear tie-dyes. Is a shirt like that confusing to a dog?
Jemuel from Cebu, Philippines on December 18, 2015:
Now I know that dogs can also see colors. I thought they can only see black-and-white. Well anyway, thanks for the good hub! I learned so much from it.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on December 18, 2015:
Thank you for taking the time to drop by, read and comment!!! You have a great day too. :)
Linda Robinson from Cicero, New York on December 18, 2015:
This is a remarkable hub, really enjoyed it. This is the ideal and helpful, informative one of the best I have ever read about your beloved pets. So nice meeting you. I look forward to reading more of your work. Enjoy your day. Talk to you again. Linda
Bonnie on July 20, 2015:
Since it will be hot, I may choose white. This color stuff is great for agility handlers, gives us a better understanding of WHY our dog may not be performing as well as they do in practice. If Friday doesn't go so well, I'll try blue on Saturday.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on July 17, 2015:
Green is actually a shade of yellow to dogs. I usually wear blue, black or white. I run on soccer turf a lot, and I also pay attention to the surrounding walls of the soccer facility. In most facilities, my dogs seem to do best when I am in black or a bright blue. I have been changing out my agility wardrobe to blues and blacks. :)
Bonnie on July 17, 2015:
I have an agility trial next weekend on grass. what is the best color to wear on green grass. thanks.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on April 20, 2015:
LOL!! Yes white on snow is probably not the best bet.
Linda Boggs on April 20, 2015:
Thanks! we're outdoors all year in alaska so white will blend into snow (no walls) so white doesn't seem like the best bet, but the yellow blue combination sounds good. sound show up good year round. great tips about clothing too!
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on April 19, 2015:
I would personally use a light blue with white bars with darker blue and yellow tape. Reds will be browns, which might blend in with the sand. Depending on the color of the walls, white would be a good contrast with two shades of blue (light and dark) and yellow tape. JMO. :)
Linda Boggs on April 17, 2015:
from reading your article if I were to paint my PVC jumps a color that I could use both in summer and in winter, when they might be set up on snow, I would want to go with a blue color probably? Do you agree? I train on sand in an outdoor riding arena
BODYLEVIVE from Alabama, USA on May 29, 2014:
My pit bull will pick toys that are red to play with other than any other color besides yellow. His first toy was yellow and he loved that toy, always played with it. We bought other toys that were different in color like white, blue green, etc. and he acted like he didn't see them. I bought him a red fire hydrant and he only plays with the yellow and red toys. My other dog is a lab and she'll play with anything no matter the color.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on April 17, 2014:
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Stelling21!!! I see far less "why didn't he see that?" mistakes in our handling since I started paying attention to my clothing color. It's been really interesting.
Stelling21 on April 17, 2014:
Thank you. I knew that dogs were colour blind but didn't think about the handler clothing aspect. Now that I have, I can see the pattern emerging as to why my changes of clothing may have possibly affected our results. An interesting concept worthy of future note.
Evelina on March 25, 2014:
cool, never knew that
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on March 02, 2014:
I found it interesting when doing the research as well wiserworld. Thanks for dropping by!!
wiserworld on March 02, 2014:
This is really interesting. Never knew dogs had such a different color spectrum than we do. Thanks for sharing.
gryphon on February 02, 2014:
dogs are more aware of their world, olfactory, audio, and the ability to see motion than "humans".
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on January 30, 2014:
Congrats on your first dog!!! What fun you get to have learning all about this amazing species. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. :D
Brenda Thornlow from New York on January 30, 2014:
Enjoyed this article! I'm a first time dog owner and loving it. I try to read as much about dogs as possible and learning something new everyday. They're incredible animals and I've grown such love for them since owning one. Thank you for this!
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on January 21, 2014:
Interesting, Mr. Archer. I would suspect white would "pop" more than orange, especially on brown grass or dirt. Orange and white should pop on green grass though. Thanks for dropping by. :)
Mr Archer from Missouri on January 21, 2014:
I read in the comments where someone's dog(s) see orange. I have a Lab that I have trained for ring and field and have noticed that when I use the orange training dummy he has to use his nose more than when I use the white one. So, as a result I tend to use only the orange one when training and the white one just for fun.
Great article and very well thought out and put together.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on August 11, 2013:
Thank you for dropping by Doodlehead!! I've been watching my dogs since writing this article, and it's been interesting to see their color choices. They can really struggle to fetch toys that blend in to the surface based on their color vision.
Doodlehead from Northern California on August 11, 2013:
I have tried to get my dog to prefer to fetch a red "squeeky" but he prefers to play fetch with a yellow tennis ball.
Based on this, part of the problem (and it seems to play out) is he can't see the red squeek toy as easily when I throw it. He can't find it as easily either. Interesting.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on August 07, 2013:
Thank you barbat for dropping by and reading!!! A lot of very talented dog trainers are only now beginning to take into account color in their training. I know since doing this article, I'm starting to gather a blue agility wardrobe for trials, and I bought a lot of blue toys for my new puppy. It's interesting to think about for sure.
B A Tobin from Connnecticut on August 07, 2013:
Since I read this, it made sense why one of my dogs didn't respond as well...she couldn't see me well. I am no pro by far so this was a very interesting piece of insight for me!
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on August 02, 2013:
I found that shocking myself!!!
Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on August 02, 2013:
I may have to shock the border collie world with your other list of top 5 agility dogs!
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on August 02, 2013:
LOL!!! BCs certainly are great, great dogs. Thanks for dropping by and sharing. :)
Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on August 02, 2013:
I like this so much I shared it with my border collie friends on Facebook - Now we will see the border collies at the top of the Agility ranking where they should be! lol
B A Tobin from Connnecticut on April 29, 2013:
Always love your hubs...while never got involved in competitions with my dogs, I never knew what it entailed. Wow what an interesting set of hubs I intend to read more as I have time. Thanks agilitymach and those corny puns are fun, I made it by accident! lol take care and write more!
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on April 28, 2013:
LOL barbat!! Intended or not, it was a good pun. :) Thanks for dropping in to read!!!
B A Tobin from Connnecticut on April 28, 2013:
Gee this was an eye-opening experience..no pun intended, really!
I really thought the spectrum was in grey tones prior to this article! Very interesting and thank you!
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on April 28, 2013:
I absolutely think color does have a role in some of those cases. When I play with toys that would be more visible for dogs, they easily find them when playing chase. If the only toy I have available is say red ball and we're playing on a field of winter-dead, brown, short grass, the dogs easily lose it on the brown grass. Red is just brown to dogs. :) I try to buy fetch toys with two different contrasting colors if possible - say blue and yellow. It's not always possible, but I sure see a difference with those toys.
Thanks for reading and commenting!!
Saffron23 on April 28, 2013:
Interesting hub! I'd always thought about this with horses, as I've had the experience of trying to get over badly painted fences, but I hadn't thought about how a different visible color spectrum could affect dogs, too. I can't help but think of how many people I've met who mention that their dog is "ADD" when playing and will simply desert a toy they were in the midst of chasing. I wonder if color has a role in some of those cases?
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on February 28, 2013:
You're so right Nature. Even if it's just for fun training, it helps so much if the dog can see the training props better. Thanks for dropping by!!
Dawn Ross on February 28, 2013:
This is very interesting information. I didn't realize there was so much to think about with agility training. While I want to agility train my Aussie mix Pierson just for fun (I don't plan on entering competitions) this is still good to know. Thanks! :0)
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on February 26, 2013:
Interesting. The black and white sure does make good sense. I've had others say their dogs like orange too, so there is something about the blend of colors that makes up orange that might pop for the dogs. Thanks for commenting!!
Steveb on February 26, 2013:
As a retriever field trialer, we use orange bumpers when we want to hide them in green grass, white and black bumpers when we want dogs to see them in the air, and white and black clothing so the dog can see us at a distance when handling them on blind retrieves.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on February 11, 2013:
Thanks for dropping by Sallybea!!!! :)
Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on February 05, 2013:
I found this a fascinating read, thanks for sharing.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on January 23, 2013:
Yes, ETS affects so many dogs. I have a few students whose dogs have ETS. One has managed to compensate tremendously well and has three MACHs now. The other is really struggling. Recognizing how vision affects dogs, especially in fast moving sports, is so important, and it's great that people are starting to give it attention. Thanks for dropping by!!!
Cynthia from SLC UT USA on January 23, 2013:
Very interesting.. I've never thought of what colors I wear in agility arenas, something to think about. Dogs nowadays can have vision problems, as is seen with the Early Takeoff Syndrome more and more dogs are seeming to have anymore. (I love the white sheltie btw.)
Agilesibe on January 10, 2013:
Not sure why, but orange has been the favorite color of all 3 of my dogs. I have had the same football in 3 different colors & all 3 would go crazy over the orange one, but never play with the other colors. My current competition boy is blind in 1 eye, so I have spent a lot of time researching how to give myself the best visibility in training & in the ring.
Jeff Harrow on January 09, 2013:
My dog sees 'orange'......no question about it. And it's his favorite color.
Orange items from around the house are constantly ending up in his doggie bed. Orange pillows, orange toys, orange balls, orange frisbees, orange sneakers, orange t-shirts.......he claims them for his own.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on January 08, 2013:
Thanks alexadry!!! I appreciate the vote up. :)
Adrienne Farricelli on January 08, 2013:
A very interesting read! I like the chart showing how dogs see colors; it's very effective. I don't compete in agility, but I can see how colors can affect dogs in different dog sports and many training scenarios. Voted up.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on January 08, 2013:
Thank you Linda!!! I really appreciate that. :) I've very glad you came by to read it. :)
LindaM on January 08, 2013:
Great work done here and thanks so much for posting to give all of us that do agility a better understanding of how important color is, not only in the equipment, but especially in what we are wearing. Good Job girl. Wichita Falls.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on January 04, 2013:
I thought it was black and white for years too. I think it's cool they see color. Thanks for stopping by!!!
Jef from Philippines on January 04, 2013:
All my life I thought that dogs only see black and white. It's just after after reading this article that I learned that they also see other colors - just less than what most people see.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on December 19, 2012:
Thank you Faith! I find dog's color vision very interesting. I appreciate your vote. :)
Faith A Mullen on December 19, 2012:
Very interesting hub (voted up!). I was just wondering this week which colors dogs can see as I have heard before that they are colorblind, but did not know much beyond that.
Kristin Kaldahl (author) on December 18, 2012:
Thank you so much wetnose. This is something I heard a while ago but didn't realize how important it was to my dog until about a year ago. Now I'm trying to get a bunch of blue and black agility tee shirts to wear at trials, but what am I going to do with all of my red, green and brown tees. :) Fortunately, I always wear blue jeans to trial in.
wetnosedogs from Alabama on December 18, 2012:
I didn't realize dogs are color blind. I learn so much from your hubs and it is always fun to watch your videos.
Critical Race Theory Is Coming for the Dogs: Katja Guenther’s “The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals”
Until recently, the Rosenberg, Texas pound was typical of many American shelters, killing roughly 70% of its animals. The leaders of the shelter did not see it as their responsibility to change this. Instead, staff blamed local residents for being “irresponsible” in failing to sterilize and make lifetime commitments to their pets.
Residents who opposed the killings lobbied for change. In response, the city hired a new director committed to the lifesaving programs and services collectively known as the no kill equation, which include foster care for orphaned puppies and kittens medical treatment for sick, injured or traumatized animals low-cost sterilization for the pets of the poor and behavioral training to help people overcome some of the challenges that lead them to surrender their pets in the first place.
During her first year of implementing the no kill equation, Rosenberg achieved a 97% placement rate for dogs and 90% for cats, ending the killing of almost all healthy and treatable animals. That success has continued despite the pandemic. The shelter has stayed open as an essential service and, for the first time in its history, it found itself empty: having found a home or rescue group for every single animal.
Millions of municipal shelters are now finding homes for upwards of 99% of animals, returning the term euthanasia to its dictionary definition: an act of mercy for “hopelessly sick or injured individuals.” These communities are large and small, urban and rural, red and blue, affluent and impoverished, homogenous and— like Rosenberg which is 75% Latino, Black, and Asian— diverse. The result has been a 90% drop in pound killings nationwide since the 1970s. Despite the fact that pet ownership has doubled, the number of dogs and cats killed has gone from roughly 16 million a year to less than one million. It’s been called “the single biggest success of the modern animal protection movement.”
America is a nation of animal lovers. We share our homes with 60 million cats and 80 million dogs. We talk to them, keep their pictures on our cellphones, celebrate their birthdays, travel with them, and greet them upon coming home even before saying hello to our spouses and kids. We include them in holiday festivities and take time off work to care for them when they are sick. And when it is time to say goodbye, we grieve.
Yet, in her recent book The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals, Katja Guenther claims that dogs are being killed because of “capitalism, anthroparchy, white supremacy and patriarchy.” She argues that allowing dogs to sleep inside is a privilege reserved for the white and wealthy and that policies against keeping dogs chained up in backyards are intended to oppress people of color by imposing “middle-class norms of animal keeping in which companion animals are considered family and treated accordingly,” which ignore the fact that people of color “are themselves trapped in poverty, may have few options for legitimate income generation and possibly rely on their dogs for … status.”
Unfortunately Guenther’s misguided book is gaining traction. Shelter director Kristen Hassen opines that Guenther “gets it right” in concluding that “racism, classism and the caste system are at the heart of the broken animal sheltering institution.” Arguing that laws to prevent mistreatment of dogs discriminate against “anyone in the US other than white, middle class and upper-class individuals,” Sloane Hawes, Tess Hupe and Kevin Morris of the University of Denver Institute for Human-Animal Connection cite the book in their proposal to relax enforcement of animal protection laws—a proposal that threatens to reverse decades of hard-won progress.
Intakes Reflect Service Area Demographics, Not Racism
Guenther writes that, because of racism, the overwhelming majority of the dogs who ended up at the Baldwin Park, California shelter where she worked as a volunteer had belonged to poor people of Asian and Latino heritage and, to a lesser extent, black people. But this simply reflects the demographic make up of Baldwin Park itself. When I ran a shelter in a predominantly white community—a shelter with a higher per capita intake rate than the Los Angeles County pound system of which Baldwin Park is a part—most of those who surrendered animals were white. Indeed, of all the counties in the US with a 90% or better placement rate, the one with the highest per capita intake—over five times that of Los Angeles County—is 90% white, only 3% Latino and less than 0.5% black. In other words, the ethnicity of the people who surrender animals to shelters is largely a function of demographics, not of race.
Guenther deliberately rejects objective evidence of this kind, admitting that “it is not possible for me to be impartial”: “I was trained in sociology, a discipline that emphasizes impartiality and the need to systematize observations and analysis in ways that distance the researcher from the researched. I deliberately turn away from these tendencies and instead embrace the messy possibilities of being a researcher with complex ties to the social setting I am analyzing.”
At best, the book presents subjective feelings, anecdotes and even guesses as compelling evidence for its conclusions—at worst, it ignores evidence to the contrary.
Guenther Stereotypes and Infantilizes People of Color
Evidence shows that dogs in inner cities are neither disproportionately dangerous nor poorly treated. People in inner cities live with dogs for the same reasons as the suburban wealthy: they want companionship and social connection. Guenther’s book perpetuates unsubstantiated prejudices about the inability of people of color to provide appropriate care for their animals. And she denies their individuality by referring to all Asians, Latinos and black people as “the collective Black.”
In Guenther’s book, moreover, white people do things people of color have things done to them. For example, people of color who abandon their dogs in empty apartments are victims “ensnared in the legal system,” forced to leave their animals behind “under the duress of sudden eviction or deportation or arrest.” Guenther even claims that such people actually believe that what they are doing is for the best, because of “the constraints of their knowledge and resources, both of which are limited by the nexus of their class, status as immigrants, and ethnicity.”
When a Latino man on a bicycle drops a dog “while escaping from mall security officers … after stealing a pair of Wrangler jeans,” she explains this away as the result of his “status as marginalized.” When a woman leaves her dog to die at the pound after she has finished breeding her and selling her puppies to buy drugs, it is the fault of her “status as a poorly educated queer woman of color.” Guenther laments that “rescuers … critique urban Black and Latinx communities for not seeing companion animals as sufficiently part of the family and instead seeing them as resources, whether protective (as in guarding) or financial (as in breeding or possibly fighting).”
She appears to be arguing that if a person of color can turn a profit or build a reputation through animal exploitation that excuses animal suffering—even in the case of sadistic animal abuse: “From a class perspective, wealthy people are believed to be too ‘civilized’ to engage in barbaric activities like dogfighting, and it’s no coincidence that the only affluent person who has been publicly shamed for dogfighting in the U.S., Michael Vick, is Black, newly wealthy after growing up in poverty.”
Dogfighting, however, is not considered barbaric because it violates the norms of wealthy people—who, after all, have historically had their own versions of animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment, such as fox hunting and pigeon shooting. Nor is dogfighting considered uncivilized because of the skin color of the organizers—many of whom are white—but because of what it does to dogs.
At Michael Vick’s property, investigators found decomposing dogs who died by “hanging, drowning, and being slammed to death.” As one of the rescuers involved wrote,
The details that got to me then and stay with me today involve the swimming pool that was used to kill some of the dogs. Jumper cables were clipped onto the ears of underperforming dogs, then, just like with a car, the cables were connected to the terminals of car batteries before lifting and tossing the shamed dogs into the water. Most of Vick’s dogs were small—40lbs or so—so tossing them in would’ve been fast and easy work for thick athlete arms. We don’t know how many suffered this premeditated murder, but the damage to the pool walls tells a story. It seems that while they were scrambling to escape, they scratched and clawed at the pool liner and bit at the dented aluminum sides …
I wear some pretty thick skin during our work with dogs, but I can’t shake my minds-eye image of a little black dog splashing frantically in bloody water … screaming in pain and terror… brown eyes saucer wide and tiny black white-toed feet clawing at anything, desperate to get a hold. This death did not come quickly. The rescuer in me keeps trying to think of a way to go back in time and somehow stop this torture and pull the little dog to safety. I think I’ll be looking for ways to pull that dog out for the rest of my life.
That—and not his skin color—is why Vick was condemned publicly along with many others—many of them white people—who have been held accountable for harming animals.
Rescuers Perpetuate Compassion
While Guenther explains away mistreatment if the perpetrator happens to be a person of color, she has plenty of harsh words for those trying to save animals. Day in and day out, rescuers and volunteers show tremendous courage and compassion when they visit their local pounds. At many high kill shelters, they face hostile treatment from staff and endure heartbreak at seeing animals destined for lethal injection or gas chambers. And yet they go back, again and again.
Despite acknowledging these traumas, because most of the volunteers Guenther encountered were white, she accuses them of working to “reinscribe hierarchies of power and status within the shelter” against the non-white workers and thus “maintain existing social inequalities between humans even as they seek to help animals.” When a rescuer laments the condition of a dog “with sagging belly skin, elongated nipples, and enlarged genitalia” and expresses dismay that the former owners “confined their dog outdoors” and “used the pit bull primarily for income generation through breeding,” Guenther dismisses the criticism as “the animal practices of white rescuers.”
On the one hand, Guenther writes that people of color should not be held responsible if they mistreat animals (“including medical neglect”) because they lead precarious lives. On the other, she criticizes rescuers for using “the animals as instruments for reproducing whiteness” when they take “the dog out of the ghetto” and give it to “the ‘right’ kind of adopters, namely those who will treat their dog as a family member and have the financial means to care for their dog at a high level for the duration of the dog’s life, for example by providing specialty-brand food, toys and beds, and extensive veterinary care should any illness or injury occur.”
Rescuers and shelters have an obligation to the vulnerable animals they serve. They can and should focus on a potential adopter’s ability to provide for an animal’s physical and mental health, rather than on income or skin color. Guenther suggests that rescuers and shelters are obligated to place animals in knowingly unstable situations (which she problematically equates with darker skin color) or engage in the greater harm of racist behavior.
Lack of Lifesaving Programs Explains Shelter Killings
Larger societal factors do impact shelter outcomes. Discrimination against companion animals in rental housing increases the number of shelter intakes and is responsible for an estimated loss of over eight million adoptive homes every year. And even before the coronavirus pandemic propelled “the poverty rate into double digits,” roughly one in four pet households had difficulty affording necessary veterinary care, leading some to relinquish their animals to shelters.
Racism has even played a role in pound killings, such as in the enactment of pit bull bans. Denver, Colorado’s breed ban, for example, was enacted after the demise of the local energy industry resulted in white flight. But many of these bans, including Denver’s, have since been repealed (21 states and hundreds of cities now expressly prohibit them) and views on pit bulls are more likely to reflect age than race. It has never been easier for shelters to adopt out pit bulls, especially to millennial and Gen Z families.
But Guenther is wrong about the causes of shelter killing and how to prevent it. The evidence does not suggest that “everyday and sustained collisions of capitalism, anthroparchy, white supremacy and patriarchy” are to blame. It points to more mundane causes and more practical solutions. “Feral” cats impounded by the Los Angeles County pound system are killed because the director of that system opposes non-lethal sterilization. Orphaned, neonatal puppies and kittens are killed because of a lack of comprehensive foster care. And other animals are killed because of a failure to implement the services that allow shelters to achieve high placement rates. Guenther alludes to all this when she laments that “volunteers offered a significant pool of time and skills … that would have increased the success of these programs, but [staff] declined most of their help and made it very difficult for volunteers to maintain those programs that [the county] did permit.”
But there is hope. It is far easier to compel a shelter director to implement common sense alternatives to killing than to foment a social revolution.
Guenther Threatens to Turn Back the Clock on Animal Protection
The most dangerous thing about Guenther’s book, however, is her view that human-animal relations are “a zero-sum political struggle involving identity markers like race.” In the early nineteenth century, cruelty to dogs was not recognized in law because they were considered property. Likewise, harming a homeless dog was not illegal because there was no property interest at stake. The animal did not matter. Guenther is once again suggesting a standard that excuses harm based on the interests of those causing it.
For all her professed concern about hierarchies of privilege, Guenther’s prescription for human-animal relations could not be more inequitable, uncharitable and unkind. Her premise that not all animals should have the same rights and that not all humans bear the same responsibilities to those animals threatens to popularize defeatist and counterproductive dogmas of the kind that kept shelters killing animals for decades until the current generation found common sense alternatives.
If such ideas gain traction, I fear the current moment will be remembered as a brief interlude between the ideological intransigence of two generations—both of which subordinate the rights of animals to the interests of those who harm them.
How similar are dogs and wolves?
Is it just a simple step for them to revert back to their ancestral origins or are their differences actually more than skin deep?
A dog and wolf really are very similar. Only differing by about 1-1.2% of their DNA. They can potentially breed with each other as well, that’s how similar dogs and wolves are!
But they are not the same, and to understand why we have to look at the origins of the modern day dog.
First, I want to discuss the evolution of dogs from wolves, and talk about why this matters. Then, I want to move on to talk about the similarities and differences between dogs and wolves, and how this can impact how we actually look after our dogs so that they are as healthy and happy as possible.
Why Lentils Are Good For You And Your Dog.
In our new Pure Vita Beef, Duck and Venison grain free dog foods, we've replaced peas with lentils.
Why these vegetables at all? In making dry pet food, there needs to be a starchy carbohydrate to bind the kibble together. Always learning more about the health of your pets, KLN family brands decided to use lentils in their new formulas due to their outstanding health benefits.
First, as a carbohydrate, all lentils are ranked as having low glycemic index values. Heard that term before but don't know what it means or why it matters? Here's why.
Many foods have been ranked on what is called the Glycemic Index (GI). This is a relative ranking of the carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood sugar (glucose) levels when eaten. This is important because high sugar levels in the blood can cause short and long term health complications, diabetes being one example.
Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels. The resulting smaller fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels produced is good for long term health, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
You can see that it's better for both you and your pet's health to consume low ranked vegetables. Green and red lentils, the ones in Pure Vita are all ranked in the 20's and 30's – concidered very low.
For pets that have diabetes, because of their low sugar content and high fiber, lentils are favored as a carbohydrate if there has to be one in the diet.
They also are an excellent source of iron which is a needed mineral that provides your furry pet the amount of energy required to be healthy and active.
So, next time you're planning what you and your dog are going to eat, grab yourself some lentil soup, pick up some of our new Pure Vita dog food with duck, venison or beef, at your favorite family owned pet supply store, and sit down and eat well together. Win, win!
Doesn't this bowl of chicken and lentil soup look yummy?
Oh, by the way, most every one of the stores that carries our food, will have free samples for you to try. Great way to know if your dog and cat will like the food. Ask for them. Or go ahead – be bold and buy a bag and don't worry if your pet won't eat it (very unlikely). We also have a 100% guarantee on the food, no matter where you buy it, so you can return it and get your money back. Nothing to lose, I say, and everything for your pet to gain.
What’s the Value of Your Dog’s Life, and Why it Matters
Americans love their pets, spending more than US$70 billion last year on their beloved companions. This far exceeds the $7 billion spent on legal marijuana, and $32 billion on pizza, just for two examples.
These large sums make it evident that Americans put great value on the lives of their pets. Yet how much value? We set out to find an answer for the pet Americans are particularly fond of: their dogs.
We did so by using an experimental survey design that has been used to establish the value of human lives and many other “priceless” things. Ultimately, we concluded that the value is of the average dog is about $10,000. While some may chuckle at our research, we believe it holds important implications for human medicine, health and well-being.