6 common dog behavior myths deciphered

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By Guest Dog Blogger, Penny

I’m sure my owner has heard at least a few of the myths out there, and dog behavior myths can be untrue and unfair to us dogs. People train their dogs to teach good behavior and form a strong relationship with their dogs. I think it’s horrible that there are humans who actually believe and live by these myths! They don’t realize that they could be hurting the bond with their dog.

Myth #1:

Dogs will look “guilty” when they’ve done something wrong.

Actually, we don’t have complicated emotions such as guilt. What we’re really reacting to is your negative body language. For example, you come home and find that your dog has torn apart a corner of the couch, and your dog is hanging his head.

He’s doing that not because he feels guilty but because he knows what your reaction will be, and he’s trying to please you by showing you that he is submitting to you. That is even more visible when trained dogs read human body language looking for cues.

Myth #2:

If a dog cowers, it means he was abused.

There are many explanations why a dog might cower, and even the friendliest dog could cower if a stranger tries to pat them. This could be because the dog doesn’t like having his collar grabbed, had a frightening experience as a puppy, wasn’t adequately socialized, or could have a shy personality. Many people go up to a dog to pat them and lean over their heads. It’s scary to have strangers towering over us! The best way is to kneel, turn sideways and let the dog approach you. Be sure to hold your hand, palm down, let the dog sniff your hand first, and then attempt to pat the dog without making any sudden moves.

Myth #3:

If your dog poops inside, you need to rub his nose in it to show him he was wrong.

This is a bad thing to do because the dog won’t understand the connection between the accident and the punishment; what he will learn is that he shouldn’t trust you. Even though your dog is house trained, there are times when accidents could happen: if he’s ill or you arrive home late from work. Don’t make a big deal about it; just silently clean up the mess. However, if accidents continue to happen, you may need to house train your dog better, revise your schedule a bit or possibly take your dog to the vet as it could be a sign of a health problem.

Myth #4:

Your dog is punishing you when he chews your shoes or destroys your furniture.

We don’t think in terms of “getting even” or “punishment.” All we know is that chewing helps us when we are bored, it gets rid of excess energy, feels great on our teeth, and in some instances, we could chew as a signal of separation anxiety. If you don’t want us chewing on your things, then get us some chew toys like nylabones—we love those!

Myth #5:

All dogs should like being near other dogs.

Not every human is an extrovert, and we’re the same way. How social we are could be due to not enough socialization as a puppy, breeding, or simply what we like. Some dogs don’t care about being around other dogs.

Myth #6:

Older dogs can’t be taught new tricks.

A dog is never too old to learn a basic command or trick; in fact, they flourish when they are trained. Also, elderly dogs that aren’t housebroken can be house trained with a lot of success. It just takes commitment, patience, consistency, and…those yummy dog treats! As long as you keep your dog inspired and his physical and mental state are well enough that he can do the basic tricks or commands, then your dog shouldn’t have a problem learning—no matter what his age is.


This is just a shortlist of myths, but they seem to be the most common. I hope that I’ve been successful in explaining some of these myths to you. If not, you can always learn more about us on Spike’s Dog Blog.

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