Some myths or 'Old Wives Tales' about dogs have been around forever!
Here's the top 8 most harebrained myths I've ever come across:
You can't teach an old dog new tricks
Really? Come on. Not only can old dogs learn new tricks, they thrive on it. If your old dog won't try a new trick, it's probably either because they have you trained well or they're just really good at sulking! Dogs have brains and they use them. They can learn!
Dogs are colorblind
Who comes up with this stuff? Of course they're not colorblind. I mean I'm sure the occasional dog is colorblind, just like the occasional person is. But as a species? No, they're not color blind.
Humping... Only male dogs do it
Dogs don't hump for sexual reasons, they hump for dominant reasons. And it's done by males, females and even puppies. They're body language creatures. If one dog humps another they're trying to demonstrate dominance, or figure out where they stand with the other dog.
Smacking a dog on the nose with newspaper, or rubbing their nose in their 'accidents' is an effective house breaking training method
I'm cringing right now! The only thing you'll accomplish by hitting a dog with anything for any reason is abuse. And rubbing their nose in it will desensitize them to their instinct to be clean. Furthermore, both ABUSIVE methods will only terrify your dog and teach them to be scared of you! To learn proper housebreaking methods click here.
Dogs get plenty of exercise when left in the backyard
I laugh at this one because I always get this mental image of a 'doggy gym' set up in your backyard. Ya, your dog is a fitness nut and will slap on the sweats and jump on your doggy bench press; (sense sarcasm). No, you cannot count 'backyard' time as exercise. Most dogs will just sit at the door and wait for you to either come play or let them in. Either that or they'll find mischief.
'Alpha-rolling' your dog is a good training method
And whoever came up with this 'training method' takes the cake for stupidity! The idea behind alpha rolling is this; if you physically maneuver a dog onto their back so their belly is showing, it will make them submissive to you, therefore easier to train. The reality is you'll accomplish the exact opposite. A dog will willingly roll over and show their belly to a more dominant pack member to demonstrate they're no threat and accept their more submissive position. The key there is 'willingly'. If it's not the dog's choice to submit, they won't submit. They will, however, remember your cruelty and more than likely get even with you one day. They'll either learn to mistrust you or be scared of you. Both are horrible for training, and bonding for that matter.
Only sick dogs eat grass
When dogs in the wild kill an animal, the first thing they eat is the stomach and content (tripe). Their prey is typically vegetarian animals. So this tells us that dogs need vegetables in their diet. Dogs eat grass not because they're sick but because it helps with digestion and offers some nutritional benefits.
As I said above, dogs are body language creatures. A wagging tail means a lot of different things. Yes, sometimes a wagging tail means a happy dog. But sometimes it means they're feeling stressed or assertive. Just because you see a tail wag does not mean you should approach. The way they're wagging their tail could be a warning to stay away!
Brenda Christine is a professional certified dog trainer and behavior expert who has always had a deep love for dogs. She opened a dog daycare/health food store for dogs in 2002, but has recently sold her successful dog business in exchange for dog blogging. Her blog, http://askthedogexpert.ca/ focuses on positive reinforcement dog training and dog health & nutrition. She completed her small animal natural nutrition certification and has used that along with all her years of experience working with dogs to create an educational, easy to read blog about dogs.