There are many myths about our pets, some so long held and so prevalent that they’ve become fact in the eyes of many. Of course, some of these myths are harmless, but others contain misinformation about dogs’ temperament, behavior and intelligence. Pet owners who rely on these old myths to care for and interact with their pet may not be meeting its needs. To separate fact from fiction, let’s clear up some of the most widely believed dog myths:
Myth: Dogs age seven years for every one human year.
Fact: Although dogs do age quicker than humans, the 7:1 ratio is not completely accurate. Dogs age faster when they are younger, but the aging process slows down as they get older. The size of the dog also plays a role in the aging process, with larger dogs aging faster than smaller dogs.
Myth: A warm nose indicates sickness.
Fact: The temperature of a dog’s nose doesn’t indicate sickness — or health. And using a thermometer, not putting your hand on your dog’s nose, is the only way to accurately measure its temperature.
Myth: Old dogs can’t learn new tricks.
Fact: You really can teach old dogs new tricks, like how to shake hands, speak or roll over. Keep the training sessions short and fun, and use plenty of positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise. That’ll help make the training process easier on your old dog — and yourself.
Myth: Dogs can’t see in color.
Fact: At one point, it was thought that dogs could only see in black, white and shades of gray. And it’s true that dogs have fewer color-sensitive cones in their eyes than humans do. But while dogs don’t see color the same way humans do, dogs do indeed see color. They can see blue, greenish-yellow and yellow, along with various shades of gray.
Myth: A wagging tail means a happy dog.
Fact: A wagging tail doesn’t always mean a dog is happy. A natural, mid-level wagging tail does indicate contentedness, but many other wags indicate the opposite. A high, stiff wagging tail can be a sign of agitation in the dog, suggesting that it is ready to protect something. A low and quick wag may express that the dog is scared and submissive.