Dog Myths

You must never move towards a dog when training or you are displaying subordinate behavior?

Fact-Generally, that is correct, there are many times when you would back away crouch and keep moving backwards encouraging the dog to come to you, such as recall or asking a dog to approach you.

Always allow the dog to sniff the back of your hand?

We say - this is more likely to get you bitten. Dogs like to instigate the greeting on their terms. You should always stand still and allow the dog to approach, sniff and assess you before proceeding.

If a dog is biting the family, they are dominant?

We say - not necessarily. Some dogs will see a weak pack and realize that they need to apply for the top job. They could just be a lower pack dog placed in an unnatural position, due to the human's weak submissive behavior.

A dog that is biting members of the family is trying to control them?

We say - no, not always!, The dog might be biting out of fear and may feel threatened by the human's behavior (ie: picking them up and hurting them, or whacking them with a rolled up newspaper etc...) They may be taking these steps to protect themselves.

A dog that approaches you wants to be friendly?

We say - a dog that approaches you is not necessarily coming close to you to be friendly, they could just be coming to assess and sniff you. Moving during that assessment time could get you bitten.

Dogs can smell fear.

We say - that is not exactly accurate, dogs don't actually smell fear as such, but they can smell the release of adrenaline into the human's system that is released into the muscles to get the body ready for flight or fight.

There is no such thing as dominance.

We say - baloney! You only have to watch a dog selecting with care, the place it will urinate, also the body language of dogs when they meet other dogs for the first time.

A female dog should be allowed to have at least one litter of puppies before being spayed?

We say - no! It is not necessary dogs don't miss what they never have. They do not sit around, like humans, thinking about having babies.

De-sexing, neutering and spaying will change the personality of the dog?

We say - There is definitely no evidence of this. Dogs do become calmer and some become less aggressive when desexed, but their personality remains the same. A female dog with a hormone imbalance can become amazingly calm after spaying but still their temperament is unchanged.

Sled dogs such as Huskies, Malamutes and Samoyed's, are natural pullers and therefore should be permitted to pull. Also because of their sled dog heritage, they can never be stopped from pulling on the lead?

We say - All dogs are natural pullers despite their breeding. All dogs can be taught to walk correctly on the lead, sled dogs included, with the right technique. We also say all dogs can be taught to pull a sled.

A wagging tail is a definite sign of friendliness?

We say - that a wagging tail is a sign of anticipation. This could be that the dog is just anticipating something such as jumping up on you, eating its dinner, biting you, chasing a cat etc... There are many reasons why a dog will wag its tail and not all are related to being friendly.

An old dog cannot learn new tricks.

We say - You can train any dog regardless of its age. It might just take a little bit longer.

A dog that refuses to learn is being stubborn?

We say - if a dog is not learning, it's because he is either a slow learner, your timing is out or your techniques are too dramatic and they are worrying him. He has probably just chosen to do nothing and go to ground because he's afraid of making a mistake.

My dog knows when he has done something wrong because I see signs of guilt?

We say - Dogs do not experience guilt. They do not destroy things around the house out of malice. What they do is instinctual. They may react to something that has happened in the past. A bad experience with the owner perhaps. Dogs read body language and will associate the humans body language with past events.

Example: the last time that things were like this, clothes strewn around and my owner had their hands on their hips, I received a belting shortly thereafter.

Dogs are just reacting to their owner's body language when they get that guilty look, or when their owner shows the dog the item they have just destroyed. If they could analyse situations to the degree that they experience guilt, then they would gather up the items, bury them in the garden or hide them in the house, clean up, grab a magazine and sit down and wait for their owner to get home.

If a dog bites or kills a rabbit or another animal, it could very well kill a human or a child, as now the dog has the taste of blood?

We say - if that were true, then after a pack of wolves had finished eating their kill and tasting blood, they would then return to the den and attack and kill the rest of the pack.

When my dog goes to the bathroom in the house, when I am out, he is doing this out of spite?

We say - Some dogs go through stress when we leave the house, leaving them alone, especially if they perceive themselves as the leader of the family. This stress causes them to become anxious and toileting is one of the side-effects of this anxiety. Dogs do not plot and scheme to mess in the house...

I should not allow my dog to take food off other people, as it will make it easier for bad people to poison him?

We say - This is dangerous thinking. What happens if you were taken to hospital and had to get a friend to care for your dog? If a bad person wants to poison your dog, they would simply drop the food onto the ground or throw it over the fence.

You cannot train a puppy under 6 months of age?

We say - Yes you can. Although older dogs do have greater ability to retain obedience training, puppies can still learn and retain information if the training is motivational and fun for the puppy. Puppies need training in order to establish good habits that will help them grow into a well-adjusted adult.

Dogs and wolves are exactly the same, so reading about wolves and their behavior will help me understand domestic dogs?

We say - To a degree, that is correct. However, there are so many variables between what wolves will do and what domestic dogs do that it is not as cut and dry as this. Wolves will baby-sit other wolf's babies. Domestic dogs have been known to kill other dogs babies when they were left unattended.

A Female dog will attack other dogs that come near their puppies, they instinctively know the risks. Wolves don't bark, dogs do and the list goes on... So yes, learn about wolves and enjoy the information but don't try to always draw direct parallels as you will find many differences in their behavior.

Dogs only see in black and white and shades of grey?

We say - It was once believed that dogs only saw the world in black and white and shades of grey. There has since been more research undertaken to investigate what dogs actually see and as a result, new evidence has now emerged. Scientists have examined the dog's eyes more thoroughly and investigated the comparisons between the dog's eye and the human eye to determine the differences.

The new theory is: dogs can see color, but not the way most humans do. Based on the types of cones in the canine retina, dogs probably see colors best on the blue side of the spectrum. Canine color vision is thought to be similar to red / green color blindness in humans, though not exactly the same. It is believed that dogs see primarily in blue, greenish yellow, yellow and various shades of grey.

A female dog would be better behaved if they are allowed to have one litter before being spayed?

We say - not true. Our research had indicated that dogs that have had a litter are at greater risk when being spayed. Regardless of what the findings are, there is no proof or good reason why a dog should be bred 'once' before being spayed.

Some humans think that a dog would feel sad if it has not had the opportunity to have babies. This is what we mean when we refer to the anthropomorphism of dogs by humans.

Dogs view being cuddled the same way humans do.

We say - No! Dogs initially view this as controlling behavior and an attempt to dominate. When another dog wraps their legs around them, this action is viewed by the dog on the receiving end, as a very threatening act.

The reason most dogs come to love being cuddled is, they eventually learn to trust that this is okay when humans do it. They also learn that it can be pleasurable and that it gets them lots of attention.

Dogs need to go to dog parks and puppy schools to become balanced and well socialized.

We say - Puppies can suffer all sorts of trauma if introduced to an over-exuberant or controlling adult dog, when in their young adolescent phase. This trauma can stay with the dog forever, especially if it does not receive corrective training.

Dogs that are aggressive are generally the dominant type.

We say - No! Dominant or controlling dogs rarely need to become aggressive. They may display dominant or controlling body language and may snap if you step out of line, but hardly ever do they do the "full on" attack and repel technique. If ever this is used by a dominant dog it is usually only when it feels that the pack is under attack. It is generally the fearful dogs that are most often the ones that display aggression. Fearful dogs become aggressive to make a scary situations go away. They try to display a very terrifying onslaught to drive away the object of their fear.

When a dog attacks you it is trying to kill you.

We say - No! It is never in a dogs mind to actually kill what it perceived to be a threat. Yes they kill prey, but threats are to be repelled; so a dog will look to repel or see signs of contrition when they attack, they never intend to kill. Deaths actually occur by accident not design.

A dog needs to have plenty of space and room to roam and exercise?

We say - Dogs are pack animals and they much prefer to be with the pack. A dog generally does not exercise itself. If a dog has a large backyard it will generally just lay close to the backdoor. So owners should not agonize if they have a small apartment as long as they exercise and train their dog regularly.

You must never play 'tug-of-war' with your dog?

We say - By all means do so, as long as you control the game and this is far better than playing hand games. If played correctly, where the owner always wins, it's a good way to establish your leadership.

The subordinate dog does the grooming.

We say - No! the more dominate dog does the grooming, that is why so many people struggle when grooming their dog.