By JeanneBennett

Spirit staff Pet Advocate

We have all heard them and many of us swear by them but some of the myths that have been circulating about dogs range from silly to downright dangerous to believe.

As owners you want what’s best for your pet and some really well-meaning pet owners have fallen victim to some of these myths.

It’s time to separate fact from fiction.

When your dog has a potty accident, it’s important to rub her nose in it to let her know what she did.

False. This is not just false, but really disgusting and can lead to more clean-up for you. When you rub a dog’s nose in her own mess, she often sees no association between that and her having had a potty accident. Nor does rubbing her nose in her accident teach her not to potty on the floor again.

Instead, rubbing her nose in her accident teaches her that humans are dangerous and unpredictable, and she will likely begin to hide in safety by sneaking into another room to go to the bathroom, making housebreaking even more difficult.

My dog is trying to show she’s in charge when she doesn’t listen to me.

False. It’s easy to attribute human motives like “getting even” or “being spiteful” to our dogs, but dogs don’t have the same complex emotions as humans. The more realistic reasons why a dog doesn’t do what’s being asked is either because she doesn’t understand the command or doesn’t have the proper motivation to want to perform the behavior.  As the alpha in the relationship, it is your responsibility to make sure your dog knows what is expected and follows your commands.

My dog knows she was bad ; her guilty face says it all.

False. The guilty face many humans swear their dogs have make for great YouTube videos, but don’t necessarily mean your dog is guilty of anything. Dogs show a perceived “guilty face” not because they feel an actual emotion of guilt, but because they are responding to their human’s body language or tone of voice. You’ve heard of a “false confession,” well the guilty dog face is the canine version of a false confession.

Shelter dogs have too much baggage. It’s better to adopt a puppy to start with a clean slate.

False. Many shelter dogs are well-behaved pooches that, for an endless list of possible reasons, could not be kept by their original owners. The age of the dog you adopt has little to do with whether he will make a good pet; it’s all in the training. Older shelter dogs make ideal candidates for people wanting to skip the puppy stages of chewing, potty training and mouthing

An old dog can’t learn new tricks.

False. As long as a dog is mentally and physically capable of learning to perform a behavior and is properly motivated, it’s entirely possible to train her. You can’t realistically expect to get a senior dog that has never been socialized and turn her into a show dog. But if you are really dedicated and patient, you can train any dog to be housebroken and follow basic commands.

A dog who cowers from people was likely abused in the past.

False. There are various reasons for dogs cowering, and not all of them are because a dog was abused. Commonly, the dog was not properly socialized or had negative experiences during her prime socialization period as a puppy.

To avoid scaring a dog , the  better way to approach is by getting into a kneeling position, with your body turned toward the side, and then inviting the dog to approach you. If you practice this method, it will be less likely to cause a canine to cower.

A dog shouldn’t sleep with you or be allowed on furniture, or she’ll think she’s the boss and will misbehave.

False. Just like humans, dogs simply want a comfortable place to lie down. If comfort can be combined with being next to their beloved human, whether it’s right next to you on the couch, or even on top of your lap, then they’re all for it. In rare cases, dogs will guard their sleeping and resting areas, and will show aggression when humans approach these sacred areas. This type of behavior will require remedial training.

But for the average Rover, sleeping in bed or resting on the couch has no adverse behavioral effects. If you find this type of behavior unacceptable, then you should take steps to train your dog to stay off of the furniture.

When a dog chews up shoes or destroys furniture it’s because she’s punishing the owner.

False. Dogs chew on shoes, furniture and other human items not to punish their owners, but simply because it feels good on their teeth; it relieves boredom, releases energy and, in some cases, may indicate separation anxiety. Try getting your dog toys or treats that will keep them busy as well as allow them to engage in one of the favorite past times of canines everywhere: chewing.

A dog can’t really be happy unless she can run off-leash.

False. Believing this myth can lead to serious injury or even death of a dog. Leashes are made for a dog’s safety. They should be perceived as tools that keep your dog from running into oncoming traffic, going up to unknown dogs or people, and prevent them from running way.

Although regular off-leash play in a fenced area is essential for a dog’s well-being, while out in public, dogs can learn to be perfectly content on a leash at their owner’s side.

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