My Top 6 Favorite Dog Myths, Debunked
Urban legends and myths surround all aspects of life.
I suppose that most start out with good intentions, because something specifically good or bad happened to someone, and so they proliferated the story to make it more important for others.
And, some are just simply outrageous ideas that someone has tried to convince others about, like kids in debate trying to prove a point. I remember a lot of “gang initiation” urban legends being spread when I was a teenager.
I was led to believe that if I flashed my high beams to a car without headlights on at night, the person would follow and murder me as some kind of gang initiation.
I snicker, as an adult; I was a little worried as a naïve kid.
Thankfully, most of the “Doggy Myths” probably started out with some kind of good intention.
Six Dog Myths That Deserved To Be Debunked:
1. Your Dog Shouldn’t Sleep on Your Bed
We have all been lead to believe that if your dog sleeps on your bed, or in your bed with you, that he will soon be dreaming up his evil plan to take over the world.
Most dogs don’t want to be “Doctor Doom”.
I wonder if someone’s spouse, who was tired of sharing the bed with the dog came up with this advice, ha ha!
And, can I be the first to say… “I LIKE MY DOG IN BED WITH ME”.
Ironically there have been health studies that say sleeping with your dog and snuggling is good for your health; both of you!
If your dog has aggression issues or is possessive of his space (for instance he doesn’t want you near “his chair” and threatens to bite you during the day), he has no business being in your bed!
If he is already crate trained and he listens to your obedience commands most of the time and he is affectionate, there is really no reason or myth that says he has to stay out of your bed.
I have 2 dogs; one has access to my bed, and the other will just never be appropriate enough to sleep with me and that is fine!
2. All Dogs Can Swim
This one brings tears to my eyes today!
Yesterday, I watched a totally devastated dog owner mourning the loss of his 2 year old dog who had drowned. They found him at the bottom of their pool. It was incredibly sad.
As a judge for Ultimate Air Dogs, a dog dock diving organization, I spend a lot of time teaching dogs to swim.
Many dogs first reaction is panic, like humans, and dog paddle with the front legs but not kick with the back, then exhaust themselves and begin to sink.
I have been bloodied and welted as I held dogs in the water and helped them to stop shark rolling and panicking and gain some confidence.
I have learned how to teach a dog, first to stop panicking and relax some, and then to use their back legs to kick instead of dog paddling vertically and reaching exhaustion.
Humans and canines often resort to panic when faced with water.
If you have a pool, I suggest you teach your dog to swim and mark an area that he can always find in case he falls out, and perhaps make him a ramp so that he can get out on his own!
3. The BEST Time to Train Your Dog is on a Walk
This seems like good information, right?
And, I would say that the majority of people expect to teach their dog while they are out strolling for their walk in the morning or in the evening.
You then have to do battle with all of the distractions that this environment provides!
You are going to probably have to deal with all or most of them! Which means it will be difficult for your dog to “learn”.
To learn more on how to deal with the distractions, click here.
Learning takes place at home, where the distractions are few and can be controlled.
Once your dog has learned a skill, then you can begin to add distractions and begin to work your way outside, and finally, you can work on leash training on a walk!
4. Your Dog's Mouth is Cleaner than Yours
I don’t know about you… but I don’t eat poop.
I also can’t lick my own butt, and I am FAIRLY sure, that if I could, I wouldn’t! HA!
Also, I don’t eat or scavenge things out of the trash or off of the floor. I mean, unless I was really hungry (it was a Cheeto), or it fell within the 5 second rule.
Ironically, as I lay asleep this morning in bed, my mouth agape, my dog pushed her tennis ball into my mouth.
I am pretty sure she was disturbed that I was trying to sleep in, and she wanted to wake me so that I would feed her.
Let me just tell you that there is not enough toothpaste, mouthwash, soap or alcohol to get rid of the "heebeegeebees" and panic that ran through my body. Because I know where that ball has been! Ha ha
Honestly, I am not sure how this myth came about.
I suppose at some point someone’s dog licked their wound and it seemed to heal better…
But, the truth is that your dog’s mouth is full of bacteria.
The older he is and the less he chews to take plaque off, the more plaque and bacteria he has growing in there.
I mean, I brush my teeth at least twice daily.
And, I do recommend brushing your dog’s teeth too! It is essential for his health!
5. Human Food Will Make Your Dog Beg
Let’s just clear this myth up, quickly.
Your dog doesn’t know the difference between “human food” and “dog food” or “dog treats”.
The problem is when you feed your dog off of your plate or with what you are eating!
For years, I trained Service Dogs and rewarded them for good behavior when they settled in under a table, but never fed them from my plate.
I used string cheese as their “training” rewards to reward good behavior.
If a dog can smell the odor of cooked food (which makes him hungry, by the way), and then you give it to him or share it with him, either while you are cooking, while you eat it, or after you have finished, then YES, you have essentially taught him to beg.
So often I go into the home of potential clients with my string cheese and they are adamant that they can’t use “human food” because they don’t want their dog to beg. The truth is that your dog won’t understand this is “human food” unless you are eating it while you are feeding it to him.
With all the recent recalls on dog foods and dog treats, I often just trust human foods to be safer as a reward than dog treats made in other countries with less stringent regulations!
6. Physical Exercise is the Best Way to Tire Your Dog
This is a big theme of mine. I looooove physical exercise. I think physical exercise is very important.
Remember, your dog is an athlete and you need to keep his body healthy.
And, going for a walk around the block probably isn’t going to do it either.
But, if I have a limited amount of time to get a tired dog, the best way is through mental stimulation.
The mental stimulation of learning is exhausting.
Now, if you add some physical exercise to that learning, you have the recipe to get in and get that dog sleepy!
I ask my dogs to complete obedience training and tasks, and then I throw their ball for them to retrieve.
They get the mental simulation of playing the “puppy training” game with me and the physical exercise of chasing their favorite toy!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.