Debunking Common Dog Myths

common dog myths

Whether you heard it from a friend or you read it online somewhere, there are common dog myths that may be influencing your decisions. These myths go back to the beginning of dog domestication, and although they may be somewhat rooted in fact, they’re more fiction than anything else. Think of it as the old-school telephone game, one person says something to one person, that person says it to another, and so on, each time adding little changes. It’s time to regain control and debunk some of these common dog myths.

#1 – You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.

Myth. Unlike humans who get set in their ways, dogs are always looking to learn. No matter what age your pup is, they are still eager to please and need mental stimulation. Teaching your old dog new tricks may actually extend their quality of life.

#2 – Dogs get all the exercise they need in the backyard.

Myth. Your dog is just like you, it needs a reason to exercise. However, unlike you, they aren’t going to get motivation from wanting the perfect summer bod. Unless you’re outside playing with them, they’re more likely to just do their business and investigate a little. Dogs still need regular walks to reinforce their “pack” nature and allow them to experience a greater range of their territory.

#3 – A wagging tail means a happy dog.

Myth. A dog’s tail does far more than show delight. It can denote fear, anxiety, or impending aggression. Even though, to us, it may seem like all tail wags are the same, they actually differ and can mean a totally different thing. You can tell more about your dog’s feelings by focusing on their environment, rather than their tail wag.

#4 – The best way to cool of a dog is by pouring water on their head.

Myth. Pouring water on your dog’s head can actually increase their body temperature. Unlike humans, dogs have only a few ways to reduce their internal temperature, and none of them include dipping their head in water. Sudden cold can cause important vessels to contract, actually stopping the release of excess heat.

#5 – A dry nose means a sick dog.

Myth. If your dog has a dry nose, chances are, he just has a dry nose. There are a lot of reasons why your dog might have a dry nose, and most often, it has nothing to do with being sick. He could have just woken up or was too close to the heater.

#6 – Only male dogs hump things.

Myth. We’ve seen our fair share of female dogs getting in on the action, and it generally has nothing to do with sex. Dogs also mount or hump as a way to show dominance. Behaviorists see it as a playful gesture, which is why you’ll notice it more in large packs of dogs. Male and female dogs, neutered and spayed dogs, young and old dogs can all be found “humping” once in a while.

#7 – A little chocolate won’t hurt.

Myth. This one we can’t understand. If it’s toxic, why care how much is too much? Anyway, chocolate is deadly to dogs – period. As little as one ounce of dark chocolate can kill a small dog. Keep the chocolate to yourself.

#8 – Dogs see in black and white.

Myth. According to Dr. Shelby Reinstein, “Dogs see shades of blue, yellow and green, which when combined, can be perceived as grayish brown, dark yellow, light yellow, grayish yellow, light blue and dark blue. This probably explains why dogs love chasing a bright yellow tennis ball on the green grass under the blue sky.”

#9 – Dogs age seven years for every human year.

Myth. According to recent research, the actual calculation is much more complex. Aging depends on breed and size, amongst other environmental factors. It’s more likely that at year one your dog is a teenager. Aging is relatively similar among varying sizes for the first five years. After which, the bigger the dog, the older they get.

#10 – A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human.

Myth. Honestly? Have you seen what your dog puts in there? Of course not. This myth probably stems from the bonus myth that dog saliva heals wounds faster. The more accurate reasoning for their healing powers is probably due to the lick itself. A dog’s tongue is rough which may help to remove dirt and bacteria from wounds. Hence, helping it heal faster.

There are many dog myths out there that continue to pass from person to person. We hope we could help shed some light on facts that you can now share with your friends. Actually, next time someone says, “you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks,” go ahead and prove them wrong.