Wally's Art Lesson 5: Introducing White and More Observations | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wally's Art Lesson 5: Introducing White and More Observations

It's been a while since we worked on colors, and this time, I wanted to introduce another color. I picked white for a couple reasons.


One, to test a theory about contrast, or perhaps the lack of, being an issue in the room. Two, to also see if it was a sound issue between "azul" and "amarillo" that was at the root of the confusion for him.

Another change was a change in objects. I switched to some different colored strips of rabbit skins I had bought for him for a different purpose (trying to teach scent discrimination) but the colors came in handy for this. The thinking here was that texture might have something to do with it. The "flashcards" and the cones have a shiny texture - perhaps reflecting light oddly and interfering with his color vision.

Immediately on starting, Wally seemed to have no problems picking out white (using "blanco" as the cue). This points directly at the contrast issue. The carpet is a sort-of dark gray (I guess you could call it "medium gray") and the white stands out tremendously. The blue was also on his bed, which is lighter colored. He seemed a little better at finding the blue color in this case. Putting it back on the carpet, though, and it was more of a challenge.

The same occurred when I put the colors on my bed. The dark red sheets on the bed probably look just like the carpet, which brings up the same issues with the blue. In fact, he could see the white color so well, he would pick it up when I called "azul" in hopes of being right! He was like "I can SEE this one, isn't it the one you want?"

When I swapped out the blue for the yellow, he could find the yellow better. Another notch in the contrast theory. The yellow stands out much more than the blue in all cases.

This makes me think it's a combination of the lighting (perhaps not strong enough) and the colors in the room as well. I don't think, yet, the sound of the cues ("azul" vs "amarillo") is making the difference at this point. After all, he gets "abres" and "abajo" and "arriba" just fine, even if I use them in ambiguous contexts (like saying "abajo" near a door)

The strips of rabbit skin

The light levels in the pictures attempt to illustrate my thinking with light level impacting our progress. The top picture was taken with no flash, and is a better representation of the light level in the room. The bottom was with flash. The blue especially comes through much better with the higher light level. The other colors seem more rich as well. The shadows also disappeared (granted, the flash was right near the objects so I don't know how well that effect can be reproduced "naturally), and I know shadows are something dogs see well (it's how they detect and track movement so well, they can see the change in the shadowing on an object as it moves).

I could try this in a brighter room, like the living room, where there's more natural light coming in. The natural light could also do more to help his vision (dog eyes might work best only with natural light - could be the UV rays in the color spectrum, etc, that artificial light doesn't really give off.) I would take this outside, but then I think I'll be fighting more than just the colors.

May be on to something, and best thing is that there's hope yet for teaching colors to him!