Dogs and Heights

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 9:23am PST 
A recent quote has stirred up some mixed feelings. It's from a dog handler for the Austrian Special Forces. It's from an article speaking about parachuting with dogs.

The handler says, "They don't perceive height difference the same way humans do, so that doesn't worry them. They're more likely to be bothered by the roar of the engines, but once we're on the way down, that doesn't matter and they just enjoy the view."

Are dogs capable of seeing height differences but aren't able to understand such heights or are they just physically unable to perceive such heights? I'm talking jumping out of a plane height, not getting out of a big SUV height.

Article for reference
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 11:51am PST 
I don't know, but common sense would make me think they'd have a natural fear of falling like any other critter living in a gravity based world . . ..shrug
Rocky *CGC*- With the- angels.

Gone but never,- ever forgotten- xxx
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 1:06pm PST 
I agree with Augusta,

However, I do know that dogs don't have depth perception...hence the fact some dogs like water, some dogs don't. Therefore, they may not see height in the same way we do... Still, my dogs look at a ditch and you can almost see them size it up, so they must see that it's a drop.

For example, Skipper, before he jumps off the sofa, looks down and wiggles him butt as if to gear himself up for it... So he must know that there's quite a jump... I couldn't imagine him doing the same if you opened the door of a plane confused

Kali earned- her wings- 10/21/14

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 6:25pm PST 
I think they do understand heights. When we first took Kali hiking, she didn't want to jump off the boulders. She would teeter on the edge of it yodeling until we came and help her off. LOLOLOL. It wasn't something she would get hurt hopping off of, but it was higher than she was/is used to seeing at home. thinking
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 7:18pm PST 

Dogs should have depth perception, since they have binocular vision, very useful for predators---but it sounds like it varies depending on the breed and the set of the eyes. According to some sites I've glanced at, it sounds like their focus for details at a distance isn't as good as humans on average. What they are better at is detecting motion and seeing in lower light.

One site mentioned that retrievers track the falling birds visually to know where to spot them . . . .
Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 7:58pm PST 
It would make sense that some breeds have better depth perception than others. When I got in to grooming I learned (very quickly) that certain breeds--particularly Beagles and Jack Russells--seem to think themselves immune to gravity. I'd always have to be extra careful when getting a Beagle or JRT out of the top kennel, because they will always, ALWAYS try to launch themselves out of it, as if the ground is right there. Beagles are especially bad in the raised tubs and on the drying tables too. And it wasn't a dog-to-dog behavior either. ALL beagles act this way. ALL Jack russells act this way. I gotta think these breeds (and others who act similar) just don't have a very good concept of height and depth.

While other breeds, like Shelties for example, usually seem to understand that they cannot just leap off a table and land without a thud. They hold still better.

My brother's old dog (a GSD/Husky/Lab?mix) would always walk with him to the overpass that went over the freeway, but she would stop in her tracks when they got there, and absolutely refused to walk over it. I don't think it was the noise from the traffic, as it's just as noisy walking up to the overpass. It's only the point where it reaches off the ground where she would stop and refuse to go one step further.

I believe Nix is scared of heights too. He does OK on the grooming table, but he definitely knows he's up high, and he definitely doesn't like it, and if I wasn't there for moral support I think he would be one of those dogs that flattens himself to the table.

He's fine going over certain bridges that aren't too high ... but there's one particular bridge which is several hundred feet off the ground (the main attraction of the "High Bridge" state park that runs through Farmville, VA) and is about half-a-mile long. Every time we walk over it, Nix will crawl the entire way. If we stop to look over the edge he sits, hunched up to make himself look small, tail tucked, ears back. He loves the rest of the trail, but he HATES crossing that bridge!

Edited by author Mon Apr 1, '13 7:58pm PST

Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 10:05pm PST 
Jackson is fine walking over bridges, but he is very uncomfortable walking over dams and water. Dams particularly, he looks down, keeps to the middle of the walkway, and seems very aware he could fall.

The dog before him, Yorta, seemed to have a fear of heights. One time we were climbing the stairs into a tourist tower and the poor boy looked down and froze up. He would walk back down (thank goodness because I could not lift him) but there was no way he was going on. He was all fine until he looked down and seemed to realise how high up he was! So I do think at least some dogs have an understanding of the dangers of heights and depth perception.
Jake & Sweet- Caroline

Tricolored- Hounds for life!
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 10:21pm PST 
Ava laugh out loud

I can tell you jake thinks he's immune to gravity It's only his sheer will that keeps him on the ground and all ground is level in his mind. Jake is the first dog i've met htat will just kinda jump off and onto things. even if he won't make it. shock

He kinda just says F-it and jumps off of stuff. I always worry he'll get hurt counter surfing at my parents or grandparents home becuase he'll literally jump onto and off of the counters as if it's nothing. The first time i took him tere he umped right up on teh counter to go after a roast and then off when i told him no. He had no fear of the high counter though at home i had nothing that high.

I've never had him loung of anythign unmanageable before like a super high raised table. But there was a time he literally walked right off the raised vet table. I mean walked right off of it. No jump. Just took the wrong step and off hte side he went. Thankfully he wasn't hurt.

Jake's a smart dog though and i was able to teach him to stop at the raised sidewalk. He won't step off a sidewalk now if it is raised. If he touchs off hte raised surface into the street he'll back up. This took me almost a year to teach him though.

I think Jake and Sweetie see height differently then I do. And i know they see it differently from one another. Sweetie will fall in holes jake avoids. I can't tell if that's because she's old or because her legs are shorter though.

Member Since
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 11:58pm PST 
I'm not sure whether or not dogs do have depth perception but from what I've observed with my dogs, whenever they'd be seated on top of a chair back when they were puppies, they'd freak out when they look over the edge. Sure, maybe because they were pups then, but I still see some adult dogs doing the same. shrug

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Tue Apr 2, '13 1:05am PST 
All of my dogs are aware of heights, Shadow is terrified of them but she has impaired vision to. Sabi is one of the few patrol dogs I've handled that is unfazed at all. She wasn't bothered by metal grate catwalks, glass elevators, construction skips or even a swinging bridge. She LIKES looking down on her kingdom, queen of all she seeslaugh out loud Bud will do it for me but he really isn't happy. Usually pressed against my leg shaking.
A word of caution though, if you have a dog that isn't bothered by heights be very careful. They seem to think they can fly, as with beagles. laugh out loud
Sabi bailed through my office window once. It's a good 7-8 feet off the ground and she wouldn't have been able to see the landing. Now I do not leave windows open, my bathroom window is a 20 foot drop.
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