The cute, affable, generally delightful dog: Man's best friend. But what kind of best friend would keep secrets from you? And even worse, what kind of person doesn't know everything about their best friend? It turns out that pop culture and received wisdom may have led you astray when it comes to your canine companion, but fear not! Below we have debunked seven of the biggest myths that you may have heard about dogs:
Myth: Dogs dislike postal workers and cats
As we'll see from many of the dog myths listed below, this misconception is due to our tendency as a species to assign our emotional characteristics and motivations to animals. In the case of the age old cliché of dogs being averse to postmen and felines, this is due to the territorial, protective nature of dogs, not a deep-seated dislike of the Royal Mail or any other species in particular.
Bathing your dog Myth: Dogs shouldn't be bathed more than a few times a year
This will no doubt come as a relief to the owners of particularly ripe hounds; it turns out that you can wash your dog up to once a week with no ill effects, providing that you use a gentle shampoo. As well as diminishing the stench of your loyal pet, a weekly wash will also reduce shedding, and prevent the occurrence of some skin diseases.
Myth: A wagging tail means that a dog is happy
While the above can be the case, a wagging tail can also be indicative of a number of different moods: a dog which is wagging or twitching it's tail high in the air may be aggressive or defensive, and a dog which is wagging it's tail low may be indicating fear or subservience.
Myth: Dogs eat a variety of non-food items to compensate for elements that are lacking in their current diets
This is a fallacy, it turns out that the boffins still aren't sure why dogs have such strange snacking habits. In fact, some commonly held 'dog foods' can actually be harmful to your beloved hound; bones, for example, can actually irritate a dogs digestive system, as generally speaking a modern pooch gets all of the nutrients they need from the dry or wet food that they are already given. The jury is still out on why dogs have a predilection for munching on the leavings of other animal or canines; it may be as simple as a cry for attention. Maybe it's a form of revenge on canine dentists....!
Myth: Dogs are able to understand human speech
Our apologies to all of the budding Doctor Dolittle's out there: your pet does not understand human speech. Rather than comprehending the exact meaning of your command, your loyal pet is instead focusing on the tone of your voice, body language, and familiarity with specific words, in order to work out how to react. So, an obedience class is probably not the best time to air your wealth of celebrity impressions, or your hilarious mime act.
How should a dog's nose feel?Myth: If a dog has a warm nose it's ill, if it has a wet nose it's fine
It turns out that the state of your pooch's nose isn't a sure fire indicator of their overall health! Conventional canine wisdom has long held that a warm, dry nose indicates that your dog is ill, whereas a moist nose indicates that your faithful hound is fighting fit. Any number of factors could cause the aforementioned nasal symptoms; dog noses are known to be drier after a nap, and the simple act of laying next to a radiator may both warm and dry an unwitting snout. The only sure-fire way to establish if your dog has a temperature is to use a thermometer: while the nose can be used as an indicator, it should not be taken as comprehensive proof of a dogs health.
Myth: Dogs will indicate when they are ill
While this would make living with a dog considerably less difficult, this is, unfortunately, more than likely to be the opposite of the case. Generally speaking, a dog's natural instinct is to cover up illness, as in the wild a show of weakness could quickly turn you into a victim. The onus is still on you, the ever-vigilant owner, to make sure that your pooch is 100%.