Dogs and humans have been living together for thousands of years which is why It is only natural that throughout the years, myths about dogs have come up, especially when science wasn’t as evolved as it is today. We want you to know the truth about raising a dog, which is why we put together this collection of common dog myths and the relevant facts.
Dog myth #1: Dogs cannot see colors
Your pooch does not only see the world in black, white, and gray. They also see colors! Just not the same way as you do. Human and dog eyes can differentiate colors through nerve cells called ‘cones’. Human eyes have 3 types of cones that cones enable them to see the colors red, blue, green, and all the combinations of the three.
While it is true that dogs are colorblind, that does not mean dogs cannot see colors. It just means that their color vision is limited when compared to a human’s normal color vision. That is because dog eyes only have two cones that enable them to see the colors blue and green, and any combination of the two.
Since they do not have the cone for seeing red, a dog’s normal vision is like the vision of a person with red-green colorblindness. They’re not able to tell the difference between the color red and green.
Dog myth #2: One dog year equals seven human years
You likely have heard the saying that one dog year is the same as seven human years, however that logic is not sound. As The Wall Street Journal explains, “…if a human year really were equivalent to seven dog years, then people would reach reproductive age by seven, and some would live past 150.”
This myth is believed to have started sometime in the 1950s which is when the average human life expectancy was 70 years while dogs had life expectancies of ten years. Although using a simple formula to compare dog ages to those of humans, science does not work that way, as calculating your dog’s age is much more complex.
If you’re looking to get an estimate of how old your dog is, check the Pet Health Network’s dog age calculation chart. As a rule of thumb, giant dog breeds age faster than smaller breeds, however size is just one factor in the rate a dog ages.
Dog myth #3: A dog excitedly wagging its tail is a happy dog
It is true that a happy dog will wag their tail, but it is not true that a wagging tail means your dog is happy. Rather, a dog wagging its tail can indicate things such as anxiety, frustration, and nervousness.
To gain an accurate understanding of your dog’s mood, you need to look at their body posture along with their ears and eyes. Also, it is important to listen to the sounds they are making. VCA Hospital explains that a dog wagging their tail can indicate submission, aggression, curiosity, and happiness amongst many emotions.
Dog myth #4: Dogs’ mouths are very clean
This may be one of the easiest dog myths to debunk. You know that dogs explore the world with their mouth and nose. And I am sure you have noticed where your dog puts his mouth when you go out for walks.
If you really think about it, would you still believe that your dog’s mouth is clean?
As National Geographic explains, humans and dogs have over 400 types of bacteria in their mouths. But, because there are not a lot of transmissible diseases between dogs and humans, it is not common that a dog bite will become infected. In fact, only 10% to 15% of dog bite cases originated in serious infections.
So, although I would not recommend getting morning kisses from your dog every day, it is not a big deal if you get the occasional face lick. The bacteria in your dog’s mouth are specific to dogs and are unlikely to cause you any harm.
Dog myth #5: Putting a dog’s nose in their mess will fix correct their behavior
Let us start by getting one thing straight, dogs only understand the consequences of their behavior at the time that the behavior occurs. For example, let’s say your dog peed on the carpet while they’re home alone. And you only notice it when you return home three hours later.
There is no use to rubbing your dog’s nose in it because your dog will not understand that you are scolding them for peeing on the carpet. The only thing you will achieve by doing this is causing your dog to be afraid of you.
This will not correct their behavior, but rather it will make it worse. Dogs that are constantly punished tend to become fearful and later, aggressive. This is because they start to feel the need to protect themselves.
The best way to train your dog is through positive reinforcement which consists of rewarding your dog’s positive behavior. For example, providing them a treat or when they obey a command. As for wetting the carpet, when housebreaking your dog, it is best to catch them in the act and redirect them to where you want him to take care of their business.
Do you want to learn more about common dog myths?
Thanks to science, it is easier than ever for you to have a comprehensive understanding of your furry friend compared to humans from centuries ago. If you’re interested in learning more about common dog myths, the ASPCA has a variety of helpful articles such as this one on pet toxin myths.