Deal­ing With Dog Vision And CCD


DEAR DIDI: My hus­band comes home ev­ery night around 5:30 p.m. Our Ger­man Shep­herd sees him pull up and starts bark­ing fu­ri­ously at the front win­dow and not in a “happy to see daddy” way. It makes my hus­band very an­gry. The minute the front door opens all is right with the world again. Why doesn’t our dog rec­og­nize his daddy? -Per­plexed in Ripon

DEAR PER­PLEXED: I hear this com­plaint fre­quently! I think it is be­cause us hu­mans rely so much on our eye­sight as our dom­i­nant sense that we for­get other an­i­mals are not the same. Dogs ac­tu­ally have fairly poor eye­sight in many ways. There are two types of cells that make up our eyes, rods and cones. The cone cells are re­spon­si­ble for see­ing color and the rod cells are re­spon­si­ble for black and white im­ages. Rods also help us per­ceive move­ment. Dogs have half as many cones as a hu­man but twice as many rods.

Our dogs are also some­what my­opic, or near­sighted. They need glasses to see dis­tance with the clar­ity we do. A dog’s sense of hear­ing and smell are their dom­i­nant senses. I am sure your Ger­man Shep­herd knows the sounds of your hus­band’s car com­pared to all the neigh­bor’s ve­hi­cles. He clues in the minute it drives up. Un­less your hus­band has a unique shape or walks in a dif­fer­ent man­ner your dog prob­a­bly doesn’t know it is him.

Once the door opens, smell in­stantly brings recog­ni­tion, and I am sure, hap­pi­ness!

I highly rec­om­mend you go to for a free im­age pro­cess­ing app that will al­low you to con­vert any photo on your phone/ com­puter to the way a dog would see it. It is a real eye opener and will help you un­der­stand your ca­nine much bet­ter!

DEAR DIDI: What is OCD in dogs? I thought OCD means some­one who wants ev­ery­thing to be per­fect. -13-year-old boy in Stock­ton

DEAR 13-YEAR-OLD: This is an ex­cel­lent ques­tion! It is a dis­or­der that hap­pens more of­ten than peo­ple may re­al­ize and it comes in many dif­fer­ent forms and lev­els of sever­ity. Hu­mans have a lot of la­bels that we throw out to de­scribe oth­ers of our species. OCD has long been loosely used to de­scribe peo­ple that like things to be neat, or­ga­nized, or “per­fect.” How­ever, some­times those de­sires be­come ex­treme and their life is over­whelmed with con­stant thoughts of or­ga­niz­ing and wash­ing even if things are al­ready clean.

OCD stands for Ob­ses­sive Com­pul­sive Dis­or­der. In dogs it is called CCD, Ca­nine Com­pul­sive Dis­or­der. It usu­ally de­vel­ops around a year old and may seem funny or cute at first. It is believed that a stress­ful event in the dog’s life causes anx­i­ety which re­leases cer­tain brain chem­i­cals. In an at­tempt to feel bet­ter, the dog per­forms an act that is self-sat­is­fy­ing. Those brain chem­i­cals re­duce and the ac­tion be­comes even more re­ward­ing be­cause it felt so good. The dog seeks to re­peat the ac­tion and it can quickly be­come a “habit” of sorts.

The most com­mon CCD be­hav­iors we see are spinning, flank suck­ing, pica (the urge to eat non­food items like rocks), snap­ping at flies (in­vis­i­ble ones), shadow or light chas­ing, tail chas­ing or just star­ing off into space. CCD be­hav­iors usu­ally get worse with age and can progress to life threat­en­ing sta­tus. The dog’s qual­ity of life is not ideal when they suf­fer from any level of CCD. Di­ag­nos­ing it early on is cru­cial. A qual­i­fied Be­hav­ior­ist or Vet­eri­nar­ian should be con­sulted right away so that steps can be taken to in­ter­rupt the cy­cle and hope­fully keep it from pro­gress­ing to a dis­abling situation.

Dierdra McElroy is a grad­u­ate of Texas A&M Univer­sity and is an An­i­mal Be­hav­ior­ist spe­cial­iz­ing in ca­nines. If you have ques­tions or con­cerns about the pets in your house, you can get them an­swered through a fu­ture col­umn of Didi’s Dogs. To ask your dog be­hav­ior ques­tion, email www. Cal­i­for­nia Ca­nine Un­leashed. com.

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