Monday, April 15, 2013

Common Misconceptions about Dog Behavior

By Linda Cole

The dictionary defines a misconception as “A false or mistaken view, opinion or attitude.” When someone believes something about dog behavior that isn't true, it can put the dog at risk, and possibly damage a relationship with a pet. Unfounded misconceptions can even jeopardize the life of some dog breeds. Dog behavior isn't always easy to figure out, though, and misconceptions are common. Here are six of them:

1. Aggression runs in some breeds 

Dog breeds were developed to do specific jobs for us. For some breeds, toughness, determination and a fighting spirit was essential for them to do their jobs. Dalmatians, for example, were used for centuries as guard dogs, war dogs, border security and sentinels. They ran with horse drawn carriages, protecting wealthy riders from robbers. When necessary, a Dalmatian can stand up to a foe with a determined defiance. Nevertherless, a well socialized and trained Dalmatian is a wonderful family pet and has a unique ability to calm horses.

At one time, Pit Bulls were used to bait bulls. When that was outlawed, irresponsible owners threw them into illegal dog fighting rings. Pit Bulls were once “America's Nanny Dog.” In the care of a responsible pet owner who understands the needs of a particular breed and the importance of proper training, socializing and respect, no breed is more aggressive than others. However, there are harder to control breeds that should never be in the hands of someone who isn't an expert in the breed and doesn't know how to take the lead role. Dog experts harp about finding the right dog for your lifestyle for a good reason.

2. You can't fix an aggressive or anti-social dog

Many dogs rescued from dog fighting operations have been successfully rehabilitated and placed in new homes, including ones with kids. Dogs live in the now, leave the past behind, and don't hold grudges. Any bad behavior can be corrected, but it takes time, commitment, patience, understanding and leadership. Depending on the type of aggression, a professional may be needed. Aggression could be indicating an underlying medical issue, and pain can cause a dog to be aggressive. It's important to recognize and take immediate steps to change unwanted behavior.

3. Small dogs don't need exercise and are easier to care for

This misconception can threaten any household when a Terrier or Chihuahua goes off his proverbial rocker, barking, snapping and growling his displeasure. A small dog needs to be treated just like a larger dog and given proper exercise, discipline and training. Regardless of how large or small a dog is, they all need stimulation both in mind and body to keep them well adjusted and happy. Small dog syndrome is a common behavior problem when owners don't take the lead role in their dog's life. It's up to you to teach your pet limitations and rules you expect him to follow.

4. A dog needs love more than anything else

You can shower a dog with all the love you have, but if you don't have his trust and respect, he won't return your affection. Dogs understand the social rules of a pack and naturally look to their owner to lead them. Bonding won't happen until you've earned your dog's trust and respect. Love should always guide your actions when interacting with your dog, but he also needs proper training, fair discipline and a compassionate leader he can look up to. That's how you earn his trust, respect and love.

5. Dogs are fine sharing one food bowl

How would you like it if every time you sat down to a meal, someone sat beside you eating from your plate? Dogs should have their own food bowl. This helps prevent food aggression and makes it easier for you to know if your dogs are eating enough food or overeating. A premium quality dog food like CANIDAE All Life Stages can help your pet feel satisfied and keep him at a proper weight.

6. All dogs want and need to be around other dogs 

Proper socialization with other dogs is important, but dogs don't necessarily like another canine just because they're the same species. We have all met people we aren't comfortable around, and it's the same for our canine friends. If your pet seems anxious or uncomfortable with certain dogs at a dog park, don't force them to interact. We can't expect dogs to like every canine any more than we like all people we meet. There's nothing wrong with encouraging your dog to interact with another dog, but it's not worth a possible fight if you see uncomfortable or anxious body language from one of the dogs.

Top photo by Ricky Au
Bottom photo by dani0010

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. Those were terrific and well stated indeed!!!

  2. What a great post! So true regarding the small pups too...I always try to be mindful of that with Max but luckily (no credit to me), he is a super gentle, loving, non-yappy pup...the only "bad" thing if you will that I am guilty of is allowing him to just jump on my lap when he sees fit to do so but he won't do that to people he doesnt know except once which was really strange! Thanks for the article! I always know when I see your the author, that I'll love the post!

  3. we deal with aggression every week. two staffies in our household is why. whether it be other dogs or food there is always aggressive if not acts, emotions.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...