By educating yourself and learning from reputable sources, you can provide better care for your canine companion, too. As you read through this list, it might surprise you how many of these misconceptions you thought were true. Let’s dive right in to separate the myths from reality.
1. Dogs will let you know if they’re sick.
Actually, dogs try to hide it when they’re injured or not feeling well out of a natural survival instinct. Being sick makes a dog weak, which would make them an easy target for predators.
As your dog’s closest companion, you know his normal behaviors and habits better than anyone else. If something seems off, trust your instincts and call the vet. If it turns out to be nothing, at least you’ll have peace of mind.
2. Good dogs don’t bite.
Even the most loving, well-trained dog will bite if he’s startled, injured, or feels threatened. They may also become aggressive in defense of their territory or family members. Remember to always treat your dog with caution in stressful situations. He doesn’t have to be a “mean dog” to bite if the circumstances are right.
3. Dogs become destructive when you’re not home out of spite.
According to Anna Marston, a veterinary technician and contributor on Puppy Smarts dog and puppy blog, dogs become destructive when you’re not home for many reasons, but it’s not out of spite.
In some cases, your dog may be bored due to limited physical activity and mental stimulation. Providing more exercise, interactive dog toys, and socialization can be a huge help if boredom is behind your dog’s destructive behavior.
However, a dog with separation anxiety becomes destructive because he’s truly distressed by being left home alone. This type of behavior is harder to correct, but in many cases, reconditioning and positive reinforcement are very successful.
4. Your dog should see you as an alpha.
This is a myth that has been touted by certain dog trainers, and it’s simply not true. Dogs do not need to be dominated to learn rules and boundaries. In fact, dogs who are trained using clicker training, positive reinforcement, and praise are much more secure, balanced, and happier overall.
5. Butt-scooting is nothing to be concerned about.
Some pet parents think it funny when their dog scoots its butt across the carpet. Others yell at them to stop. But the truth is, this isn’t a behavior problem, it’s a health concern that should be addressed by your vet.
When dogs scoot their bottoms in the grass or on a rug, it’s a sign of anal gland issues or parasites. Ignoring this behavior could affect your dog’s health and leave you with a huge mess if your dog’s anal glands express or rupture on their own.
6. It’s all in how they’re raised.
Well-meaning dog advocates defend aggressive dogs by blaming their behavior on how they were raised. While they do have good intentions, this isn’t always the case.
As we’ve mentioned above, even the sweetest dog can become aggressive under duress. But even more interestingly, dogs who have been used for dogfighting can become wonderful pets if they’re provided with secure, loving homes and positive reinforcement. Michael Vick’s dogs are a great example!
7. If a dog is timid, he must have been abused.
Of course, this is sometimes the case, but not always. Many timid dogs have a safe, happy home, but they still deal with phobias and fears.
Abuse is only one factor that can contribute to fear. For example, dogs who have never been socialized are often very timid and fearful, even if they’re treated well and loved at home. They may also become fearful after one bad experience at the vet or groomer.
8. You should get a puppy to keep your senior dog active.
Whether or not a puppy will keep your senior dog active has a lot to do with both dogs’ personalities and how they’ve been trained. It’s simply not a given that a puppy will automatically perk up your senior dog.
For example, if your senior dog deals with joint pain and arthritis, he’s not going to be happy if a puppy is jumping on him and pestering him all day. On the other hand, there are lots of senior dogs who would enjoy having another dog around and have the ambition to keep up with a puppy.
Consider both pets’ personalities and your senior dog’s health before bringing home a puppy.
9. Certain dog breeds are always aggressive.
Once again, every dog has the potential to become aggressive, and breed isn’t even a key factor. Aggression can result from a variety of factors, such as poor genetics, improper training, bad experiences, personality traits, and lack of socialization.
In most cases, it’s not the breed that makes the dog aggressive, but a combination of many factors.
10. Tail wagging always indicates happiness.
Research shows that dogs wag their tails for many reasons, and happiness is only one of them. Dogs sometimes wag their tail out of anxiety or fear, or even when they’re on guard. It’s important to learn what your dog is trying to tell you with his body language because that’s how he communicates.
You might also be surprised to know that the rate in which dogs age has more to do with their breed and size… one dog year does not automatically equal seven human years. Debunking these common misconceptions about dogs will help you be a better dog parent. And it just goes to show how important it is to do your own research before deciding what’s best for your furry best friend!
Some dogs simply have a timid personality and need extra reassurance, and that’s ok! If your dog is particularly anxious or fearful, talk to an animal behaviorist or your vet about training options. Anxiety medications can also help as a last resort.
By Nicole McCray, Guest Author