Monday, June 14, 2010
By Linda Cole
The dictionary defines a myth as a belief or set of beliefs that are false or unproven. Facts and myths have a way of getting tangled up with each other and it's hard to pull them apart. Dog myths can actually be harmful to the dogs if people believe them. In this article, I will set the record straight for six common dog myths.
If a dog is wagging his tail, he must be friendly. This common dog myth may garner a bite for those who believe it. Dogs wag their tails for different reasons. You can tell by a dog's body language if he's friendly. His tail is relaxed and straight out as he wags it, and he looks happy. A more aggressive or dominant dog will hold his tail up over his back and may be wagging only the very end of his tail. A playful dog will also hold his tail up over his back, but it's swishing from side to side. A dog that's submissive, afraid or anxious will have a tail that hangs down with a wag that seems uncertain, which is exactly how the dog is feeling. Never approach or pet a dog you aren't familiar with until the dog has been given a chance to properly check you out.
When a dog does something wrong, they know they're in trouble. They do know they're in trouble, but not because of what they did. They haven't a clue why we're standing there yelling, waving our arms and getting red in the face. We may not be experts at reading a dog's body language, but they are experts in reading ours. Plus, dogs can read our emotions on our face by what's called a left gaze bias. In short, dogs read our moods just by looking at us. When a dog hangs his head and gives us those puppy dog eyes that say, “I'm sorry,” it has nothing to do with the torn up chair or scattered trash on the kitchen floor.
You should never play tug of war games with your pet. This common dog myth will only deprive you and your dog from having fun. Tug of war is one of the more natural games for dogs to play. In the wild, wolves and wild dogs fight over their prey, and the one who wins the tug of war wins the food. A game of tug of war is a great way to teach your dog you're the one in charge. You won, and that makes you leader of the pack in his eyes.
That dog just tried to bite me. This common dog myth gets canines in trouble all the time. If the dog had wanted to bite the hand next to his head, he would have. A dog's reflex is much faster than ours. He only sent a warning shot across the bow that says to back off. Dogs snap to send a warning that “the next one will be the real McCoy and I won't miss.” A snapping dog isn't trying to bite, he's just asking you to leave him alone because something is bothering him.
You should never allow your dog to growl. Dogs communicate in different ways with each other and us. Growls are one of the tools they use to signal to us, other dogs and even cats to leave them alone. A growl is a request to back off because something is bothering your dog and he's uncomfortable. Give him space just like you'd want if there was something gnawing at you. There's also nothing wrong with a playful growl during a game of catch or tug of war. It's never wise to take a dog's voice away because that's his way of letting you know how he feels.
I can tell if my dog has a temperature by his nose. This is a very common dog myth. A dog's nose can be dry and warm in the morning, and wet and cold when he gives you a sloppy kiss on the cheek an hour later. It's normal for his nose to be one way or the other at different times of the day. The only way you can tell if your dog has a temperature is by taking it with a thermometer and yes, you have to do it using a digital rectal thermometer. Never take your dog's temperature using a thermometer with mercury in it because sometimes it can be sucked inside the dog and break. Mercury can make the dog very sick. The normal average temperature for a dog is 101.5 degrees.
Read more articles by Linda Cole