There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about dogs. Many of them are harmless, some are ludicrous and some are outright harmful. Separating fact from fiction can at times be confusing, it never hurts to recheck sources, and always use common sense. If somethings seems a little absurd, there may be a reason for it.
Here are a handful of common myths you have probably heard before at some point.
1) Dogs pull on lead, walk through doors first, and jump up on people as a display of dominance.
There is an entire page already devoted to dominance theory, so I won’t bore you with the details on this page. Suffice it to say, the idea that dogs need to walk through doorways, etc. first is patently absurd. Dogs aren’t so weak minded and trivial that they feel the need to assert their authority in this manner. Even status obsessed humans don’t feel the need to always walk through doors first!
Dogs pull because they are faster than us. Because they are faster than us, they sometimes get to entry ways first, this will cause them to go through a door way first. They jump because dogs greet each other face to face. The only way they can greet us face to face is by jumping. Dogs also will sometimes jump when they play. If you are constantly thinking that your dog is out to usurp your place in the pack you will become quite mistrustful of poor Rex. This will hurt your relationship for both of you. Remember to relax. Training and dog ownership does not have to be a constant battle for top dog. In fact, you’ll both be happier if it’s not.
2) Dogs are colour blind.
This is a harmless little myth that still gets passed around. Dogs are not colour blind, but it is true that they don’t see colour as well as we do. Dogs have dichromatic vision. They can tell blue from yellow but not red from green. Some species need to distinguish colours as an evolutionary survival point. Dogs are not one of them. They rely far more on their other senses than they do vision.
3) Pit bulls jaws will lock in an attack.
This is a widespread myth. In fact, there are so many myths about pits that it deserves its own page. but let us focus on this one. Pit bulls do not have locking jaws. No breed does. By examining the jaw bones of Pit bulls and comparing them to other breeds, you can see that size is the only difference. What people see as a pit “locking on,” is merely the dog not wanting to let go of the object.
4) Cold, wet noses indicate a healthy dog.
Dogs noses are often cold because they are wet, they are often wet because they lick them, dogs lick them because they can. A warm, dry nose may indicate that it is warm out, or that Fido hasn’t licked his nose in awhile. It doesn’t necessarily mean he is sick or healthy. If you want to find out his heath, take him to the vet. Moreover, thermometers for pets can be found in any pet store.
5) Dogs eat stool because they are not getting enough nutrients.
Sometimes this is true. But dogs eat feces for a wide variety of reasons and a nutritional imbalance is just one of them. Puppies will eat feces (copraphagia) because they explore with their mouths. Puppies will eat stool if they came from a disreputable breeder or a puppy mill and feel the need to clean up after themselves. Dogs will do it if they are not getting the mental and physical stimulation that they need.
A healthy diet is necessary for a healthy dog, but if your dog is eating feces, focus on training him not to do that. Don’t worry as much about the why in a case like this, where the answer may never be known.
6) Dogs eat grass to settle their stomachs/ to help them vomit.
Wolves feed off of hoofed mammals and eat the entire body. This included the stomach contents which included grass. Dogs eat grass because they like the vegetation. Some dogs eat grass because they love it. Vomiting usually occurs afterwards due to the pesticides and fertilizers found on most lawns. If your dog really loves grass you can buy pet grass for him at specialty stores, additionally you can give him a baby carrot as a treat every now and again.
7) Dogs have built in night vision.
This myth is not technically true, but it is close. Dogs eyes have Tapetum, a reflective surface in the back of the eye that reflects light back into the retina. This also gives dogs that “demon glow” when you take their photographs or shine a light in their eyes.
8) Dogs have cleaner mouths than humans.
With 100 million bacteria in every millilitre of saliva and 600 different species of bacteria in the mouth, It’s very hard to believe that anything can be more dirty than a humans mouth. The myth that a dogs mouth is cleaner than a humans is very prevalent. However, dogs mouths are about as dirty as ours. The bacteria is different, but not necessarily better or worse. It is good to remember that dogs lick many parts of their body that we find to be unsanitary. Many will eat feces (their own or other animals) and they like to snack on road-kill and bugs when given the opportunity. Think about that next time you share your ice cream cone with them.
9) You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
This old wives tale only seems to apply to people. Dogs can learn at any age, and in fact, should continue to learn new tricks and commands throughout their lives to keep them healthier and more well-balanced.
10) It’s good to train a dog to be a guard dog.
Guard dogs can’t tell the difference between a burgler and the mailman. Training your dog to be a guard dog is akin to setting a loaded gun with a hair trigger on your coffee table. It is a huge liability and odds are good that some one you care about will get hurt. It is your job to protect your dog. Not the other way around.
11) Dogs (and other animals) have no feelings.
This is false. Dogs and animals are sentient beings. This is generally accepted by science. Dogs will even show their emotions on their faces, much like humans. They will relax their face into a type of grin, when happy. They will pull their ears back when upset, or squint their eyes or bare their teeth. Dogs have feelings, which makes how we treat them all the more important.
12) Dogs are healthier if they get pregnant before they get spayed.
Not only is this false, but the reverse is actually true. Dogs tend to be much healthier if they get spayed before their first heat. Spaying and neutering cuts the risk of certain cancers and bladder infections.
13) Dogs lick to heal themselves.
Sure do. But excessive licking can actually deter the healing process or even encourage infection, so keep and eye on it.
14) Garlic will deter fleas.
This is an old wives tale that refuses to die. The only thing garlic deters is vampires. Too much garlic can even be harmful to a dog. Ask your vet about flea control options in your area.
15) Playing tug-of war will make your dog aggressive.
Playing tug -of -war is an excellent way to bond and interact with your dog. It won’t make him aggressive and you don’t even have to make sure you win every time. Let him win from time to time to keep his interest in the game. While playing tug-of-war will not increase aggression, it can teach him rough play. Instead, use it as an excuse to teach him to play gently.
16) You can’t train a deaf dog.
While owning a deaf dog certainly has it’s share of challenges, training is not one of them. One can train a deaf dog quite easily using hand signals. In fact, it may be even easier to train a deaf dog because the handlers don’t have all the hang-ups of language.
17) You shouldn’t get a dog unless you have a fence.
Dogs are social pack animals. They thrive when they are inside with their pack. If you want your dog in a back yard, they will do much better with you out there to entertain them.
18) Labradors and Golden Retrievers make the best family pets.
Generally true, as do Pit bull Terriers, Poodles, Dalmatians, German Shepherd Dogs, Doberman, Corgis, Border Collies and any other individual dog that has been properly socialised towards children. Breed specific generalizations can be harmful to both dogs and people.
Also keep in mind that Golden Retriever bites are on the rise. This does not mean that Goldens are dangerous dogs, far from it, but never underestimate proper socialisation.
19) Give a dog a bone.
Be very careful if you are going to give your dog a bone. Cooked bones can splinter and poultry bones can be a choking hazard.
20) Dogs scoot their rear on the rug because he has worms.
This can be indicative of worms, or it can mean that it’s time to get her anal glands expressed.