Dogs have been our loyal companions for centuries, offering unconditional love, unwavering loyalty, and endless joy. Despite our close relationship with these four-legged friends, there are many myths and misconceptions that surround them. It’s time to separate fact from fiction and debunk some of the most common dog myths out there, backed by scientific research and expert insights.
Myth: Dogs are colourblind
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not completely colourblind. While humans have three colour receptors, dogs have two and can discern only blue and yellow. They do not see colours as vividly or perceive the full spectrum as we do. However, dogs excel in low-light conditions and have a superior ability to detect moving objects.
Myth: A wagging tail means a happy dog
While a wagging tail is often associated with a happy dog, it’s important to understand that a dog’s tail serves as a vital means of communication. Tail wagging can express various emotions, including excitement, nervousness, submission, or anxiety. Studies have shown that the pace and position of your dogs tail will convey different emotions. It’s common for people to misinterpret a dog’s tail language, assuming it indicates happiness and a desire for interaction. However, in reality, the dog may be agitated and prone to biting.
Myth: One dog year equals seven human years
This widespread misconception has been disproven by numerous studies. For instance, dogs can give birth to puppies as early as 9 months old, demonstrating that the commonly cited 1:7 ratio is inaccurate in this scenario. Dogs do not age at the same pace as humans. Rather, canines experience rapid aging during their early years, followed by a gradual slowdown once they reach seven years of age.
Myth: You can't teach an old dog new tricks
The notion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is a longstanding myth that holds no truth. Contrary to puppies, who can be overly excitable and easily distracted, older dogs tend to be calmer and more attentive, making them excellent candidates for learning new tricks. Engaging older dogs in mental challenges, such as teaching them new tricks or using puzzle feeders, is not only highly motivating but also crucial for keeping their minds sharp and stimulated. Numerous studies have demonstrated that training older dogs is no different from training puppies in terms of cognitive abilities. The only notable difference may be that older dogs have less stamina compared to their younger counterparts. Just like training puppies, teaching older dogs requires time, patience, positive reinforcement, and compassion. These fundamental principles remain consistent regardless of the dog’s age.
Myth: Dogs eat grass because they're feeling sick
Contrary to popular belief, dogs eating grass is not necessarily an indication of illness. While the exact reasons for this behaviour vary, it is not necessarily primarily motivated by a need to alleviate stomach discomfort. Dogs may engage in grass consumption due to various factors, such as ancestral instincts, environmental exploration, or personal enjoyment. It’s important to recognise that this behaviour is typically harmless, with studies indicating that around only 10% of dogs show signs of illness prior to eating grass. However, dog owners should always try and take precautions to ensure the grass is free from potentially harmful substances.