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Canine Mythbusters: Debunking 10 Common Dog Myths and Misconceptions | Pupford

February 20th, 2024

Filed under Pet Parenting

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Dogs have been our faithful companions for centuries, yet myths and misconceptions about them persist. It’s crucial to separate fact from fiction to ensure that our pups receive the best care and training.

In this blog post, we will delve into the world of canine myths, debunking common misconceptions to help pup parents better understand and care for their beloved pups.

Table of Contents:

  • Myth 1: Dogs Age Seven Years for Every Human Year
  • Myth 2: Dogs Only Wag Their Tails When They’re Happy
  • Myth 3: Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks
  • Myth 4: Dogs Only Eat Grass When They Are Sick
  • Myth 5: Puppies Will Stop Chewing Once They Lose Their Baby Teeth
  • Myth 6: Dogs Only Need Physical Exercise
  • Myth 7: Your Dog Will Only Learn If You Are Their “Alpha”
  • Myth 8: Dogs Understand Guilt
  • Myth 9: Small Dogs Are Less Energetic Than Large Dogs
  • Myth 10: All Dogs Love Physical Touch

Myth 1: Dogs Age Seven Years for Every Human Year

One of the most widespread myths is that a dog's age can be calculated by multiplying their age in human years by seven. However, this oversimplified formula doesn't accurately reflect the aging process in dogs. Different breeds age at different rates, and factors like size, genetics, and overall health play a significant role. Consult with your veterinarian to determine your dog's individual life stage and tailor their care accordingly.

a photo of a german shepherd puppy and adult

Myth 2: Dogs Only Wag Their Tails When They're Happy

While tail wagging can indicate happiness, it's not always the case. Dogs use their tails to communicate a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, or even aggression. The speed, height, and direction of the wag can provide valuable insights into a dog's state of mind, as well as what other body language cues they are displaying. Understanding these cues is crucial for pup parents to understand what their dog is trying to communicate.

Myth 3: Old Dogs Can't Learn New Tricks

Contrary to the popular saying, older dogs are perfectly capable of learning new behaviors and cues. Dogs of all ages can benefit from positive reinforcement training, which focuses on rewarding desirable behaviors. Patience, consistency, and the right motivation can help senior dogs thrive in learning new tricks and adapting to changes in their environment.

a photo of a brown senior dachshund

Myth 4: Dogs Only Eat Grass When They're Sick

Many dog owners believe that dogs eat grass only when they are unwell or experiencing digestive issues. However, dogs may chew on grass for various reasons, including boredom, curiosity, or simply because they enjoy the taste. While occasional grass consumption is generally harmless, persistent behavior should be monitored, and consulting with a vet is advisable.

Learn more about why dogs eat grass in this blog post!

Myth 5: Puppies Will Stop Chewing Once They Lose Their Baby Teeth

Assuming that puppies will naturally stop chewing once they lose their baby teeth is a common myth. Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, and puppies will continue to chew into adulthood. Positive reinforcement techniques involve providing appropriate chew toys, reinforcing good chewing habits, and redirecting undesirable chewing behavior to more appropriate chews. Consistent training helps puppies develop positive chewing habits, contributing to their overall well-being.

If you’re looking for a long-lasting chew to redirect your pup, shop our Engage line!

a photo of a puppy with a yellow ball

Myth 6: Dogs Only Need Physical Exercise

While physical exercise is crucial for a dog's well-being, mental stimulation is equally important. Dogs thrive on mental challenges and incorporating activities that engage their minds is essential for a well-rounded training program. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training can keep a dog's mind sharp and prevent behavioral issues.

Check out new ways to provide your dog with mental enrichment in our A-Z Mental Enrichment Guide!

Myth 7: Your Dog Will Only Learn If You Are Their “Alpha”

The concept of the "alpha dog" and dominance-based training has been widely discredited in the dog training community. Positive reinforcement trainers focus on building a strong bond based on trust and cooperation rather than instilling fear or dominance. Using forceful methods can lead to aggression and anxiety in dogs, emphasizing the importance of using positive reinforcement techniques.

Learn more about how the alpha theory has been debunked.

a photo of a young woman and a dog sitting on a sofa

Myth 8: Dogs Understand Guilt

When a dog looks guilty after committing a perceived misdeed, it's often a misinterpretation of their body language. Dogs react to their owners' expressions and tone of voice, not out of a sense of guilt. In order to feel guilt, dogs would have to have morals and a concept of right and wrong, which is a human construct. Instead, focus on reinforcing good behavior rather than punishing perceived wrongdoing, as dogs respond better to positive reinforcement.

Related Reading: Anthropomorphism & Dogs

Myth 9: Small Dogs Are Less Energetic Than Large Dogs

A prevailing myth suggests that smaller dog breeds are naturally less energetic than their larger counterparts. This misconception stems from the assumption that size directly correlates with energy levels. In reality, a dog's energy level is influenced by various factors, including breed characteristics, individual temperament, genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. While it's true that some larger breeds may have higher energy levels, many small breeds are known for their vivacity and playful nature.

a photo of a white Pomeranian standing on their back legs for a treat at the park

Myth 10: All Dogs Love Physical Touch

There's a common belief that all dogs universally enjoy any form of physical touch, whether it be petting, hugging, or cuddling. While it's true that many dogs thrive on human affection, it's essential to recognize that individual preferences vary among our canine companions. While some dogs may relish being petted and cuddled, others may be more reserved or may even find certain types of touch uncomfortable. This diversity in preferences can be influenced by factors such as the dog's breed, past experiences, and socialization.

Debunking Common Dog Myths Recap

By promoting accurate information and disproving common myths, we can create a harmonious relationship with our pups. Understanding a dog's unique needs, behavior, and communication cues is the key to fostering a loving and enriching environment for our four-legged friends.

Looking to get started on training? Check out our free 14-Day Essentials Training Course!


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