Common dog myths or misconceptions

15 Jan

I have a little saying “just because someone owns a dog, doesn’t mean they know dogs” from this i basically mean that everyone gets things wrong (myself and probably most dog trainers/behviourists included). We are given so much information from books, the internet, tv shows, friends, families, neighbours etc that it is hard to pin point what is good advice, and what isn’t so good, or what has truth behind it and what could be considered to be a doggy myth. This is why i thought this post might be helpful. A quick outline of as many doggy myths and misconceptions that i can think of.


1. Bitches (or female dogs) should have one litter before they get spayed. This isn’t true. There isn’t really any set time on when your dog should be spayed, it depends largely on the vet. My vet for example says that bigger dogs in particular should wait until three months after their first season. Some vets will say that they can be spayed at around 6 months old, before their first season. It doesn’t really matter, and having a litter first, really doesn’t make a difference to the well being of your dog.

2. Getting two puppies (from the same litter) and raising them together is a good idea. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, it would generally be easier and a nicer experience all round if you only had one puppy. Two puppies means double the poo and wee accidents, double the destruction, double the nipping, and generally a lot more work. It is also possible that having two puppies at the same time can result in the dogs wanting to spend less time with their humans (obviously not always the case).


husky babies


3. Table scraps are good for dogs. Nope, whilst some might be a tasty snack that does no harm, your table scraps will not often be “good” for your dog. Many human foods are fatty, high in sugar or even covered in preservatives and other chemicals. These aren’t good for your dog. If you remember from another post about what not to feed your dog, i used the example of how something as simple as a small plain biscuit, is the equivalent of a dog eating a burger.

table scraps



4. It’s ok to feed two dogs from the same bowl. A communal bowl can cause problems. Whilst your dogs might get on well, it isn’t impossible that one day they will have a disagreement and even a fight. It is also difficult to determine just how much each dog is eating, whether they are getting enough, or whether they are eating to much.

5. You shouldn’t train a dog using treats because then it wont behave when you don’t have any. Using treats to train a dog is a form of positive reinforcement, and its not a bad thing. Giving your dog a treat, rewards it behavior and gives an incentive to continue. Whilst it might be true, that your dog might come to expect a treat, there are ways of training your dog so that it comes to know that it doesn’t get a treat every single time it behaves correctly. Take Maya and her clicker training.

6. Dogs with a warm dry nose is sick. This is an old wives tale. The only accurate way to tell if a dog as a temperature and is ill, is to take its temperature. However, that being said, if a dogs nose is consistently very warm and dry, it might be worth a trip to the vets to see what is going on.

7. Mixed breeds are healthier than purebreds. Whilst mixed breeds generally do not suffer so much from genetic problems, both mixed breeds and purebreds can suffer from various diseases and ailments. Just as breeds are often mixed to decrease a particular problem, mixing breeds can also have the opposite effect.

8. Happy dogs wag their tails. This is true. However it is also true that aggressive dogs will also wag their tail. It is important that you read the body language carefully, and don’t jump to conclusions to quickly when coming into close contact with a dog.

9. A dog that jumps up on its owners loves them and is happy to see them. Your dog might love you, but jumping up does not show that. Jumping up on people is being pushy and dominant. A submissive wolf would never jump up on the pack leader, or it would be punished. If your dog jumps up on you, seek some professional advice on how to correct this behavior.

jumping up


10. A dog that sits on you loves you. Just like the jumping up, a dog that sits on you is actually claiming you as his. This is the same for a dog that puts its weight against you, leaning against you when it sits by your side. It is saying “hey everyone, this human is mine, and i’m in charge”. Its not a good thing, and you should seek advice on how to correct this.

11. Only male dogs “hump” and lift their leg to pee.  Nope females can do it too. Maya in fact used to regularly hump her teddy bear. This is usually something seen in female dogs that are dominant, as humping or lifting their legs to pee higher, is the same as claiming that item as theirs.

12. Household pets don’t need to be trained.  Of course they do! How else do they learn how they should behave?

13. If a dog has a toilet accident in the house, you should rub its nose in it.  This is something people used to do as a method of house training  My mum did it with our old dog (he only peed in the house once). However, whilst this might work, it could also send the opposite message. The dog could associate humans with being unpredictable and dangerous.

14. A dog needs its freedom on the walk.  This might include taking them off the lead, or using a flexi lead. Although dogs probably enjoy running around and acting like the good balls we all know they are, they don’t necessarily need this. A dog will be just as happy going for a long walk, all the while staying on a fairly short leash, trotting happily besides its owners. It is the walk itself that is important, not the lead (or rather lack of one).



15. A dogs mouth is cleaner than ours. This idea comes from the fact that when a dog licks its wound, it appears to heal much faster than our own do. Whilst this may be true, it is much more likely that it is due to the fact that the rough tongue of the dog is removing any dead flesh, speeding up the healing process. Actually, when you consider what a dog eats, it’s mouth isn’t clean at all! Next time your dog gives you kisses on the mouth, think about what it has last eaten, or picked up in its mouth… a dead rabbit perhaps? That being said, the bacteria in a dogs mouth is pretty harmless to humans and you are unlikely to get ill from getting doggy kisses, so don’t worry about that!

baby pup kisses


That is just fifteen common myths that i can think of, but i am sure there are plenty more out there. I know that there are many breed specific myths, as well as gender specific, or ideas that seem to group up among certain generations or cultures of people. As long as you do your research when you get a dog, and seek advice from a professional when you need it, you should get along just fine, even with all these misconceptions floating around.



*none of these pictures are my own*


One Response to “Common dog myths or misconceptions”

  1. jackiewriting January 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Reblogged this on jackiewriting and commented:
    Great post!

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