Watching through a window can be enjoyable and quite relaxing. If you are a fan of this type of entertainment, chances are you have wondered whether your dog shares the love of watching through windows.
So, can dogs see-through glass? Yes, although the dog’s vision is not as perfect as the humans’, dogs can see through glass. However, depending on how clean the glass is, dogs may fail to perceive the glass as an actual barrier. As you can imagine, this scenario can have dangerous consequences.
In this article, we will explain how dogs see and why they can watch through the glass. We will also talk about dogs watching mirrors and watching through car windows. Let’s dive in.
THE DOG’S VISION – HOW DO DOGS SEE?
Humans have 20/20 vision. However, dogs are not visual creatures. Namely, they rely on scents and sounds and perceive the world primarily through their noses and ears. Therefore, their vision is not as evolved as ours.
For example, a dog standing 20 feet away from an object can see it with the same acuity as a person standing 75 feet away. This is because instead of having a 20/20 vision, dogs have 20/75 vision.
Anyway, we should note that some dogs have better visual acuity than others. The Labrador Retriever has keen eyesight and can see distant objects with more sharpness and accuracy than other dog breeds.
Additionally, dogs have higher motion sensitivity than people. This is because they have much more rods in the retinas. In more practical terms, the plethora of rods make it easier for dogs to visualize moving than standing objects. Plus, this makes dogs very good at picking up body language cues and signs.
WHAT DO DOGS SEE WHEN THEY LOOK OUT THE WINDOW?
When dogs look out the window, they see the outside world – this can be entertaining for your dog the same as it is entertaining for you.
However, just because your dog spends a lot of time in front of the window does not mean it looks through the glass. Perhaps it is simply sunbathing or finding the spot enjoyable.
Here are some basic signs indicating your dog perceives the presence of a glass barrier and sees through the window.
Sign number 1: Head tilting
The head tilt is a cute gesture dogs use when intrigued or confused by something they see, smell, or hear. Dogs generally tilt their heads when they want to make a better evaluation of the situation. A dog perceiving the window glass as a barrier is likely to tilt its head at least until well-familiar with the new object.
Sign number 2: Increased alertness
A dog seeing something new or unexplored is likely to be increasingly alert and keen on exploring the situation. Namely, when a dog is facing a glass or window, its central dilemma is whether the object represents a barrier. This dilemma will be even more pronounced if the glass is clean.
Sign number 3: Elevated ears
Elevated or raised ears in dogs are an essential body language every dog owner needs to be familiar with. Elevated ears indicate curiosity and alertness. A dog looking through a window can have its ears elevated for two reasons – they are confused by the potential barrier presence or intrigued by something going on outside.
Sign number 4: Sniffing
As mentioned, dogs rely primarily on their noses and experience the world through sniffing. Taking a sniff of an object will help the dog decide whether that object is potentially hazardous or beneficial. The same concept applies to windows and glass barriers. Dogs are intrigued by such things and likely to take lots of sniffs around.
Sign number 5: Barking
A dog facing a glass barrier for the very first time is likely to bark in an attempt to communicate with the image it sees on the glass. This is because dogs, in general, tend to bark when faced with a potential threat. It is a unique way of measuring the danger level and determining whether something really is dangerous or simply new.
SHOULD I LET MY DOG LOOK OUT THE WINDOW?
Yes, you should definitely let your dog look out the window. In fact, watching through the window is the perfect environmental enrichment for dogs. It goes without saying that the window needs to be closed and feature a dog-proof locking mechanism for safe observations.
Modern dogs spend most of their time indoors and have limited sources of entertainment. Spending time in front of the window and looking at the outside world can be relaxing. Think of it as the canine equivalent of humans watching TV.
However, although watching through the window is the perfect form of environmental enrichment, it is not enough. Keep in mind that dogs need plenty of physical and mental stimulation and thrive on social interactions. In other words, allowing your dog to look out the window must not be its only entertainment form.
CAN DOGS SEE-THROUGH CAR WINDOWS?
Yes, in theory, dogs can see through car windows during car rides the same as they can see through any other glass object. However, the habit of watching through the car window can be dangerous. Basically, there are three main concerns associated with the behavior.
Concern number 1: Debris and flying objects
Your dog’s eyes are sensitive structures, and while driving, especially at a higher velocity, several flying objects pose a danger. In addition to debris particles (dust and dirt), common flying objects include small rocks, wood sticks, pine needles, etc. These objects can cause eye irritation or, in more severe cases, even puncture or otherwise injure the eyes.
Concern number 2: Wind damage
When the dog’s head sticks out of the window, its ears shake, and the repeated trauma can lead to severe ear flap damage and a condition known as ear flap hematoma – a collection of blood in the ear due to injured blood vessels. The situation is not life-threatening but requires a minor surgical procedure for correction.
Concern number 3: Falling out
Last but not least, it is not uncommon for dogs to fall out or jump out of driving cars. Depending on the driving speed, this can lead to severe injuries. Even if the dog falls out damage-free, there is still the risk of running away or another car hitting.
CAN DOGS SEE-THROUGH MIRRORS?
Yes, dogs can see their own reflections in mirrors. To be honest, the history of dogs and mirrors is long and funny. Namely, more often than not, a dog’s first reaction to mirrors is to run away or pick up a quarrel with the opponent.
However, once they get familiar with mirrors, they no longer find them scary. In fact, dogs can learn to play with the reflection, and in such cases, mirrors can be pretty entertaining.
The main reason why dogs find mirrors confusing is once again their powerful sense of smell. Namely, when a dog sees its reflection, it basically sees another dog – this is indisputable. The problem is the dog in the mirror is scent-free. Dogs rely on smells, and the lack of scent makes mirrors tricky items.
Interestingly, many studies have tried to determine whether dogs recognize their reflection or genuinely believe they see another dog. Sadly, no study has provided conclusive results, and we are still in the dark regarding this phenomenon.
If your dog is intrigued by mirrors and likes to stare, play, or even argue with the reflection, do not try to stop the behavior as it is entirely harmless. However, you need to make sure your dog does not accidentally hurt itself.
The best way of preventing accidents is to monitor your dog during its mirror-involving playtime. It also helps a lot if the mirror is safely attached and your dog cannot knock it over.
CAN DOGS SEE TV SCREENS?
This is another common question, and the exciting answer is yes – dogs can see TV screens. In fact, dogs can also react to the images they see on the TV screen. Just like you can get angry when you see a public figure you do not like, your dog can start barking when it sees a cat or a squirrel.
Basically, dogs react to images on the TV screen the same as they would react in real life. To continue with the cat and squirrel example, if your dog likes these creatures in real life, chances are it will start wagging its tail when they are portrayed on TV.
On the other hand, if it dislikes them, it will start to bark. In fact, some dogs have been known to attack the TV if extremely annoyed by what they see.
SUMMING UP: CAN DOGS SEE-THROUGH GLASS?
Yes, there is no room for dilemma – dogs can definitely see-through glasses. However, generally speaking, they do not see with the same acuity and sharpness as humans do.
Luckily, this does not prevent dogs from spending hours watching through windows. In fact, windows are the perfect environmental entertainment for dogs spending most of their time indoors.
If your dog likes to watch out of the window, feel free to encourage the behavior. However, as a responsible dog parent, make sure the windows are safe and do not pose a hazard for your dog.