5 Untrue Doggy Myths
There are a lot of stories and old studies around dog behaviour, some of these are true, however some of these are completely false. Here are a few of the most common ones:
1. "Down" and "Sit" are easy to teach as these are natural behaviours. In one sense, yes they are natural behaviours, dogs both sit and lie down, but that is not what we are actually trying to teach the dog. Most exercises for basic training of dogs are language related, quite simply, dogs do not speak the same language as humans. As sit and down are usually the first things that dogs are taught, these can often be the most difficult as the dog is yet to learn any human words.
2. The Dominance Theory. Now this one is an old training method that has become popular once again, its taught by people like Cesar Millan from the dog whisperer. Basically, the dominance theory is copying the methods that wolves used to discipline lower ranking pack members. Firstly, as these studies where carried out a long time ago, the technology we have now was not available, meaning that the only wolf packs that were available for study were ones kept in captivity, these wolves were not family members and because of that, they did not behave as a true wolf pack. They fought over things like food, shelter and females, the most "Dominant" would aggress towards those less able or willing to fight, often this was done by rolling the other wolf onto its back and pinning it there. This behaviour is an outright attack on the other wolf, not a method of dominance, however that is where the "Alpha Roll" originated. Dominance is a valid term, however more often than not it is very misunderstood. In actual fact, within a wolf pack, a wolf lower down the hierarchy will submissively roll over to show appeasement, which brings me to number 3.
3. The Guilty Look. We have all seen it, a video of a dog that has chewed up their bed or tipped over the rubbish bin, the owners get home and confront the dog, the dog then pulls the guiltiest look it can. But, is this "Guilty Look" actually guilt? When a dog looks away from your direct gaze, it is trying to diffuse the situation, usually because you are angry. No eye contact, lowering their heads and tails are all appeasement behaviours that dogs show in response to anger or some sort of emotion that you display that worries them. Dogs do not "feel guilty".
4. A dog licks its wounds because their saliva contains healing properties. This is not true, a dog's saliva, the same as ours, contains bacteria.
5. A wagging tail equals a friendly dog. This is possibly one of the most dangerous myths within this article. A wagging tail alone does not show how a dog is feelings, you MUST look at its other body language. A stiff wagging tail usually means the dog is not happy and could be a warning.