Fact Or Fiction: Are These 10 Myths About Dogs Really True?

We've all heard the phrase 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks,' but what if it's true? There are many different stories you hear about dog behaviour, but let's take a look and find out just how much is true, and how much is fiction

If your dog wags its tail it means its happy

A common assumption and one which is both true and untrue. Your dog will wag its tail if it's happy, but a wagging tail can also indicate other things. If your dog is happy, its tail will be almost horizontally, and the tail will be moving at a steady pace.

If the tail is hanging low and it's moving slowly, or keeps stopping and starting, the dog may be anxious or nervous, so approach with caution. If the tail is high up, almost straight, then that can be a sign of danger, so again, be on your guard.

You can feed your dog leftovers

It's often thought that a dog can eat anything. Given the chance, it probably will but they don't always know what's good for them. Leftover scraps can contain a variety of different foods and they may not all be good for your dog. While they'll enjoy any cooked meat, cooked bones could harm them, as can anything with chocolate in.

Foods high in fat can affect your dog in the same way as they would affect a human, so these can cause health problems. If you're clearing out your fridge, never be tempted to give your dog food which has gone off. If we can't eat it, neither can they.

If you see a dog eating grass, it's sick

This is, for the most part, untrue. Some experts still believe that if a dog has stomach pain, it will eat enough grass to make itself vomit, but there is no real evidence to support this.

Domestic dogs have originated from wild dogs, some of which will have eaten grass and berries. It's not unreasonable, therefore, to assume that your dog is eating grass simply because it wants to. As long as the grass hasn't been treated with chemicals, your dog should suffer no ill effects, but they also shouldn't eat grass on a regular basis.

You can't spay a female dog until she's had puppies

This myth is one which contributes to the increasing dog population, which in itself causes problems. It is also totally untrue. Shelters are full of abandoned dogs, so your dog should never have puppies unless you know you can home them.

There is no medical evidence to back up this theory. In fact, there is more evidence which shows that your dog will get more health benefit from being spayed.

You can leave your dog in the car if you leave a gap in the window

We've all seen dogs in cars in a car park while their owner is out shopping. The window is open a fraction, and no one worries, Unfortunately, this can be very dangerous for your dog, and not just in the summertime.

Everyone knows just how hot it can be in a car in the summertime, so just imagine if you leave your dog in there, even with the window partly open. Cars have lots of windows so they get very hot, very quickly. If you leave your dog, even for a few minutes, they could suffer heatstroke very quickly.

Even if it's cool outside, if the sun reaches your car, the temperature inside can  rise very quickly. Far better to leave your dog home while you go about your chores.

Banned dog breeds will attack anyone

If a dog is on a controlled or banned dog list, it's true that most people will give that breed a wide berth. The fact is that these supposedly dangerous dogs can make excellent family pets and any dog can be aggressive if it hasn't had the right training or doesn't have the right owner.

In a lot of cases where a dog attacks a human being it's because they are frightened, or they think that a member of their family is in danger. A dogs instincts are to protect the pack, and in the case of a pet dog, it's owner and family are their pack.

Any dog will be friendly and sociable, as long as they receive the right dog training and they are handled in the right way. If they show any aggression, it's up to the owner to correct the behaviour and not down to the breed of the dog.

Leave your dog in the garden and it won't need a walk

Your dog will enjoy sniffing around the garden and even snoozing in the sun, but this won't provide enough exercise.

Canines are pack animals, and they need to be included in the pack. This means spending time with you. The garden won't provide enough physical or mental stimulation for your dog either. You will need to walk with them and play with them, otherwise they may get bored which can lead to destructive and dog tips">potentially aggressive behaviour.

Walking your dog also encourages it to socialise with other dogs and humans, which is an important part of their training.

A warm nose means your dog is ill

A cold, wet nose is always associated with a healthy dog, but that doesn't mean to say he can't have a dry nose and be healthy too. A dog will keep the moisture in their nose by licking it, so if they've been asleep, there's a good chance their nose will be dry. Just the same is if they've been sitting in the sun.

You only need to worry about their nose if it's red, flaky or has a discharge.

Dogs just hate the postal workers

We've all seen it in films and on TV. The mail arrives and the dog chases the mailman down the street. Do they hate them? Of course not.

The reason they chase them is they are simply protecting their territory. If they see a stranger come on to the property, their instinct is to chase them away. Socialisation training will go a long way towards preventing this, as will taking the time to introduce your dog to the postal worker.

Dogs go nuts because they're pleased to see you

Getting home from work to an excited dog makes you feel good. They missed you, right? Well, yes and no. They will have missed your company but if they're leaping around all over the place, they missed some exercise and activity too.

Leaving a dog alone all day without any means of exercise means their pent-up energy builds up until you get home. If you're going to be away from home for any length of time, give your dog a long walk before you go out, or look in to doggy day care. They also need health">lots of different toys to keep them mentally active too.


So, can you teach old dogs new tricks? Well yes, of course you can. Understanding your dog goes a long way to understanding whether something is true or not. If you have any real concerns about their behaviour, your local vet will always give you the right advice.

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