As the most popular pets around the world, dogs have long been subjects of discussion, intrigue, and endearment. However, there are also many misconceptions about them. Whether it’s online or through word of mouth, people often repeat many myths about dogs that end up being either simply incorrect or actually harmful. It’s best to know what’s actually true so that you can give your dog in Brisbane or anywhere around Australia the best care.
Let’s delve into some common myths and misconceptions about dogs, using scientific evidence and expert knowledge to debunk these erroneous beliefs.
7 Myths About Dogs
Myth 1: Dogs See in Black and White
This is perhaps one of the most prevalent misconceptions about dogs. Contrary to this popular belief, dogs do not see in black and white. However, their colour perception is different from humans’.
Humans have three types of colour receptors in their eyes, allowing us to see a wide spectrum of colours. Dogs, on the other hand, have two types of colour receptors, making their colour perception somewhat similar to a person with red-green colour blindness.
Studies have shown that dogs can distinguish between blue and yellow, but have difficulty distinguishing between red and green.
Myth 2: You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Many believe that adult or older dogs are not as capable of learning new commands or tricks as puppies. This is simply not true. Dogs of all ages are capable of learning – it might just require a little more patience and time with older dogs.
In fact, older dogs may even have advantages over puppies when it comes to learning. They often have a longer attention span than puppies and can focus better on the task at hand. What really matters is using positive reinforcement training methods and being patient and consistent.
Myth 3: Dogs’ Mouths Are Cleaner Than Humans’
The saying that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s is a misconception. Dogs’ mouths are teeming with a wide array of bacteria, much of it specific to canines. Humans have different types of bacteria, specific to them. Therefore, it’s not accurate or useful to compare the cleanliness of human and dog mouths.
It’s also important to note that while most bacteria in a dog’s mouth are harmless to the dog, some may be harmful to humans. For example, Capnocytophaga Canimorsus is a bacteria found in the mouths of dogs and cats that can cause severe infections in humans, particularly those with weakened immune systems.
Myth 4: A Warm Nose Means the Dog is Sick
The temperature of a dog’s nose fluctuates throughout the day and can be influenced by many factors, including the weather, the dog’s activity level, and general physiology. Therefore, a warm nose does not necessarily indicate illness.
Instead of relying on nose temperature, look out for other, more reliable signs of illness, such as changes in appetite, energy levels, behaviour, or bowel movements.
If you suspect your dog is ill, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian.
Myth 5: Wagging Tail Means a Happy Dog
While a wagging tail can indeed indicate that a dog is happy, it’s not the only reason dogs wag their tails. Dogs also wag their tails when they are agitated, anxious, or alerting to danger.
The key to understanding a dog’s tail wag is to look at the rest of the dog’s body language and the context in which the wagging is occurring.
For example, a relaxed, wagging tail usually indicates a happy dog. However, a stiff, rapidly wagging tail, especially if the rest of the dog’s body appears tense, can indicate that the dog is agitated or upset.
Myth 6: Dogs Eat Grass When They’re Sick
While it’s true that dogs may sometimes vomit after eating grass, there’s no conclusive evidence to suggest that they eat grass to induce vomiting when they’re feeling sick. In fact, fewer than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass, according to a study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
Many experts believe that dogs eat grass simply because they enjoy it, or because it provides them with some nutrients that they’re not getting from their diet. However, if your dog is eating grass excessively or if grass-eating is accompanied by other signs of illness, you should consult a veterinarian.
Myth 7: All Dogs are Natural Swimmers
Not all dogs are natural swimmers. While some breeds, like the Labrador Retriever or the Portuguese Water Dog, are known for their swimming abilities, others, particularly brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Bulldogs, have a much harder time. These dogs can struggle to stay afloat and can easily become exhausted or drown.
Even for dogs that are good swimmers, it’s important to remember that they can get into trouble in the water.
Always supervise your dog around water, and consider using a dog life vest for added safety.
Understanding our canine companions is key to ensuring their well-being and to fostering a strong, healthy relationship with them. Dispelling these myths helps provide a more accurate understanding of dogs and their needs.
When in doubt, always consult with a professional, like a vet or a certified animal behaviourist, to get accurate information about your dog’s health and behaviour.