There are more myths about dogs that are causing—unconsciously or consciously—stress or anxiety among pet owners.
Here are five more myths debunked by Jenna Stregowski In her article in The Spruce entitled,” What are the biggest dog myths (Common Misconceptions About Dogs).
Myth #5: A dog’s age is equivalent to seven human years.
When you believe this and say that a one-year-old dog is seven years old in human years, then you will also say a 15-year-old dog is 105 years old in human years.
If you will follow this logic, that will make the dog as old as humans also in terms of physical health.
But that is not the case, Stregowski said.
For one, a dog can reproduce before the age of one (or seven years old based on the myth) while humans can reproduce after the first menstruation or at 10 years old at the earliest.
For another, a lot of dogs live up to 15 years old or 105 in human years based on the myth. But there are a lot of active senior dogs unlike human seniors. Also, not many humans reach 105 years old.
There are even dogs who live beyond 15 years old.
I personally know a pet owner whose asong Pinoy or aspin lived up to 21 years old.
“Someone probably looked at the average lifespan of people versus the average lifespan of dogs and made the estimate of seven dog years for every human year. It's really just an over-simplified way of describing the rate at which a dog ages,” Stregowski said.
Stregowski explained that a dog ages faster than humans early in life. But the rate of aging in dogs gets slower later in life.
“For instance, a one-year-old dog is basically like a human teenager, but an eight-year-old dog is like a middle-aged human (the latter matches up more closely with the seven-year theory),” Stregowski said.
She added that a dog’s size and breed are also factors in a dog’s aging rate and life span.
A number of small breed dogs live for 15-20 years while many large or giant breed dogs live for 7-10 years.
“In a strange twist, young giant breed dogs tend to reach adulthood more slowly than the average dog, despite their shorter lifespans, “Stregowski said.
Myth #6: An old dog can not be taught new tricks.
We have heard it many times: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
They say this referring to a person’s stubbornness. But humans do learn at any age if they want to.
The same goes with dogs.
Stregowski said,”People probably noticed that their older dogs had less interest in new activities and were less responsive to training. The saying also refers to adults who are ‘set in their ways.’"
Old dogs can be taught something new. It may not be easy but it can be done.
For one, dogs experience old-age sensory changes and may thus not see or hear like he used to.
For another, he is likely to have less energy than a young dog.
To re-train an old dog, you are advised to:
1. Get his attention.
2. Make sure the activity is not too physically demanding for a senior dog.
3. Keep the training interesting by using his favorite toys or treats.
But Stregowski stressed, “be aware that some senior dogs experience cognitive dysfunction (which is basically senility) and will not be able to retain new information well. Perhaps the saying should be ‘you can't teach a senile dog new tricks.’”
Myth #7: A dog is happy when he wags his tail.
Not totally true!
A happy dog does wag his tail, yes. But Stregowski warned that there are other reasons why a dog wags his tail: FEAR, ANXIETY OR ANOTHER POSSIBLE PRECURSOR TO AGGRESSION.
So it is best to be careful when approaching a dog with a wagging tail.
“Canine body language can get pretty complex. Tail wagging is just one of the many ways dogs communicate. While it is true that tail wagging is often an indication of happiness, it can sometimes be a sign of fear, anxiety or another potential precursor to aggression. Rather than looking just at the tail, it is best to pay attention to a dog's overall body language to determine its mood,” Stregowski stressed.
Myth #8: A female dog must give birth once before being spayed.
There is no need to have a dog bred before spaying.
With the number of stray dogs and abandoned or neglected dogs increasing all over the world, it is more urgent to control animal population.
Too many dogs are left to fend for themselves in the streets because owners abandoned them when they could not pay for medical treatment. Too many dogs are killed in pounds every week because they were surrendered by irresponsible owners or caught in the streets. Too many dogs are killed for their meat.
We do not need to hear of more dogs being abused, hurt, abandoned, neglected, and killed.
If you are a true animal lover, we encourage you to have your dog spayed ( the female dog’s cervix is removed) or neutered (the balls of male dogs are removed).
Please help put an end to cruelty and abandonment. Please help control animal population in the country.
Be a responsible pet owner.
“It may come as a surprise to some that dogs do not think like humans. They will not feel ‘empty’ because they never had puppies. In fact, some dogs are not even good mothers, “ Stregowski said.
She added, ”Breeding your female dog and helping to raise puppies can turn out to be a big job for you. Is it worth it? In reality, it contributes to pet overpopulation.”
There is also no evidence that there are health benefits for dogs if a dog is bred after the first heat.
Myth #9: Tug-of-war is one possible cause of aggression.
Many have advised against playing tug-of-war with one’s dog, arguing that this causes aggression in dogs or results in dominant behavior in them.
It would only appear that the game reinforces aggressive behavior in dogs because dogs tend to growl and snarl when they play the game, Stregowski said.
But Stregowski said the dogs are actually just enjoying the game and would not hurt anyone in the process.
Professional dog trainers actually observed a decrease in aggressive and dominant behavior among dogs who played the game. It became an outlet for their emotions, she said.
“It is a healthy display of their predatory nature and an excellent mental and physical workout. Tug-of-war is also a great way to reinforce the human-canine bond,”she said.
“Some experts say the human should always win the game, while others say the dog should always win. In reality, it probably depends on the dog. Winning tug-of-war boosts your dog's confidence while losing might humble him. If your dog has no behavior problems, you can probably switch up the winning and losing. If you are in doubt, find a dog trainer and ask for advice, “she added.
During the game, Stregowski advised owners to remember: “if your dog's teeth ever touch your flesh, the game is over for the time being.”
There are other dog myths out there. We will discuss the other myths at another time to help dog owners enjoy their time with their furbabies.
Have a blessed week ahead, everyone!
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