There are times where the things that terrify an animal go unnoticed by humans.
There are many contributing aspects to this, and I mused quite a bit on the visual aspect yesterday. Humans are unique in that we see a large spectrum of colors. Some prey animals, like cows, only see around two colors. Yellow pops out quite a bit to them. Dogs on the other hand, see quite fuzzy and mostly in grey, black and white shades.
That leaves animals to see a lot of contrast in the world. Just like in a black and white photo, details and contrasts that might not be noticeable in a color photo are intensified. Many light and dark contrasts, to them, seem like depth and that can be really distracting. Shadows, tunnels, crevices… all of these and much more can startle them in a way that we have a hard time understanding.
It’s an important thing to understand when working and living with animals. What makes them nervous or scared might be ridiculous to us and, often enough, we don’t even see it.
Things will pop out at them, especially if it’s a primary color that they are able to see. Everything will be a neutral color and then *BAM* a colored object jumps out at them and it can be surprising.
We truly have to put ourselves in their “shoes” to understand what they are seeing. Even a perfectly calm animal could get scared of something, simply because they see it. That is the key. Humans have evolved to be more verbal beings, while animals can tend to be very visual.
In their visual world, lies their heavy reliance on body language to communicate. They will use sounds, but I have found that sound, or verbal tendencies, arise when an animal has a more intense emotion. I will cover that in another post very soon.
It is wonderful if you have the opportunity to get your animals used to visually different environments. When we do this, we have to keep in mind that quick changes from light to dark, or vice versa, can momentarily blind some animals, because their eyes adjust to that change slower and differently than a human’s. So be considerate!