9 Popular Misconceptions About Our Dogs: Happy Dog Expert Explains
Written by Chloé Fesch, published on February 02, 2024
1. Dogs don't see colours
This dog fact is untrue. Dogs can see colours; they just don't have the same ability as we do. They see colours from yellow to blue, but green and red are not visible. They also perceive colours more faintly than humans. However, it is possible to train a dog to identify between different colours, such as bringing back a ball of a particular colour.
2. Not all dog breeds communicate in the same way
Dogs have a universal language, which means that all dogs communicate in the same way. However, this canine language is learned and perfected over time and experiences, so they might not all understand each other instantly. In addition, not all dogs have the same morphology. For instance, there can be differences in tail carriage and ears, while some dogs are brachycephalic, and so on. This means some dogs will have more difficulty being understood by others. That being said, the more a dog is used to being around different dogs, the more adaptable they will be.
We have all heard things that are meant to be true about dogs, such as a dog will not listen to their human because they are stubborn or dominant. But are any of these facts about dogs actually true? Or are they just dog myths? Let’s explore them in further detail. Here are 9 popular misconceptions we often hear about our dogs and dog behaviour:
3. Dogs over 1 year old can’t be trained
No! This is a myth about dogs. A dog is able to learn throughout their life. It is necessary to encourage the motivation of your dog to support their training, but this can be done at any time. However, the most important time for learning occurs during the socialisation period of your dog, during the first 12-16 weeks of their life. This involves learning about their environment (what is normal and what is safe), identification with other dogs, and above all, the ability to control themselves.
4. Modern dogs descend from wolves
This is a very common dog myth. For a long time we thought that dogs were descended from wolves, but we now know that this is not the case. In fact, both dogs and wolves have the same common ancestor. It should also be noted that the dog was domesticated around 15,000 years ago and was the first species to be domesticated by man.
5. My dog is dominant with other dogs
The notion of dominance in dogs is refuted by the same scientist (David Mech) who led the talk about canine hierarchy. It is incorrect to assess a dog as dominant as this can result in errors in how you approach and handle your dog’s behaviour. Or worse, you can resign yourself to the fact this is a character trait of your dog and that there is nothing we can do to change it.
If your dog has problems socialising with other dogs, you first need to understand why they struggle. By analysing the situation more accurately, you can find a handling protocol that is adapted to your dog’s situation.
6. A shelter dog will be more difficult to train than another puppy
The shelter dog is not a pathology. In other words, a dog from a shelter will have past experiences, yes, but this doesn’t necessarily make it harder for them to adapt to your family. Instead, a dog’s training depends on the situations they have experienced, the dog itself, and their sensitivities. Let's remember that shelter dogs are mostly former members of a family first and foremost.
7. A dog yawning in a training session is tired
This is another popular dog myth. A dog that yawns in a training session is actually more likely to be in a stressed emotional state. Yawning in this context is usually a calming signal indicating that your dog needs a break.
If you do not know your dog’s ‘signs of appeasement’, it is really important to find out more about them as they give indications of your dog’s state of stress or irritation.Knowing how to spot these signs helps you to know when your dog needs support and can also help to avoid the need for your dog to show aggressive behaviour in a situation they are uncomfortable with and have been communicating this with more subtle signs.
8. Some breeds are less sociable than others
A dog is a dog regardless of its breed. It is dangerous in my opinion to stigmatise a breed as unsociable, as can be seen in some breeds such as the Akita or the Malamut.
We can no longer really talk about a dog’s behavioural characteristics related to its breed. Indeed, it would be more interesting to look at lineages and bloodlines to understand behavioural trends. What’s more, let's not overlook the importance of socialisation, the context of social encounters, and the impact of hormone surges on socialisation problems.
9. My dog is stubborn
To say that your dog is stubborn is to put a label on their behaviour that does not correspond to reality. A dog is not stubborn; either it has learnt something or it hasn’t. For a dog to listen to you, it’s important to use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to view you as a positive source of information. Make sure your dog is comfortable with their training in different situations, and that you use training when they are in the right frame of mind to learn.
How about you? Have you ever heard any of these preconceived facts and myths about dogs?
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