10 Dog Behavior Myths That Could Actually Hurt Your Dog

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By Carrie

shy-dog-by-sugar-pond.jpg Have you ever heard that a crazy owner means a crazy dog?

Actually, it isn’t true.

A dog’s environment and experiences affect his behavior more.

That is just 1 of 10 life-threatening dog behavior myths that many dog owners believe to be true.


Separating Fact From Fiction

Unfortunately, behavior problems are the primary reason why so many dogs are either given up or euthanized.

Some people don’t have the time (or don’t want to take the time) to figure out why their dog is misbehaving.  Others simply don’t have the resources to deal with the problem adequately.

One key reason that people may not take the time to figure out their dog’s behavior problem and why it is occurring in the first place is because they have some basic underlying misconceptions about why a dog misbehaves.

That’s why it’s in your best interest (and your dog’s) to know some of the most common dog behavior myths, so you will have a better idea of how to handle your dog’s behavior problems when they first occur.


My Own Misinterpretation Of Dog Behavior

Over the weekend, my dogs got into a bag of dried pit-less plums that my grandmother had left in a grocery bag that she had some clothing in.  Before we left my house, I had asked her if there was anything in her bags that the dogs could possibly get into.  I was informed that everything was zipped up and there was nothing they could bother.

When I got home, I found dog vomit on my living room.  I then found the 1-pound bag of plums half eaten!

I was rather upset.  First, I didn’t realize that one of the bags was an open grocery bag that they could get into, and second I didn’t know what was going to happen to my dogs.  Nakita (my oldest Min Pin) acted like she was the guilty party and Tosha (my youngest) acted as if nothing was wrong.

That was a misconception on my part.  I assumed that she was acting guilty because she had eaten part of the bag.  In reality, she was demonstrating submission in an attempt to turn off my anger.


10 Dog Behavior Myths

Crazy person means crazy dog and dog looks guilty are 2 dog scenarios where people are likely to misinterpret a dog’s behavior.

Here are 8 more dog behavior myths according to veterinarian Valarie Tynes:


MYTH:  An aggressive, fearful, or shy dog means that he is/was abused.
A dog’s behavior is based on genetics and environment.  You cannot generalize that a dog has been abused simply by his mannerisms.


MYTH:  If you train a dog with treats, you can’t ever get away from treats.
Not true.  Once your dog has the learned behavior down, you can back away from giving treats and give your dog lots of praise instead.  You can still give treats every once in a while without a problem.


MYTH:  A dog chasing his tail means that he is bored.
Tail chasing is actually caused by repetitive behavior and can be a complicated combination of physiological, environmental, and learned factors.


MYTH:  An aggressive dog is also a dominant dog.
Dog aggression is due to fear or anxiety, not domination


MYTH:  Any dog trainer can handle any dog behavior problem.
Not all dog trainers can handle all dog behavior problems.  To find someone who’s best qualified to deal with your dog’s particular behavior problem, get references from other dog owners and/or your veterinarian.  Going to the wrong dog trainer for a problem they can’t help with could be dangerous.


MYTH:  A new medicine will treat a dog’s behavior/phobia.
There are no cure-all treatments that are one-size-fits-all for dogs.  It will take some time and patience to correct a specific dog behavior, fear, or phobia.


MYTH:  You don’t have time for dog behavior classes.
Most people think you have to set aside 2 to 3 hours for dog behavior classes.  Not true.  Ask around to find a dog trainer that is best suited to help with your dog’s specific issue.


MYTH:  You can’t enroll in a puppy class before the dog has all his shots.
FACT:  Puppies are close in age and therefore typically have the same vaccination schedule and therefore will not likely spread disease among themselves.  Plus, puppy classes are typically in locations that are easy to clean an sanitize.


Do you want to avoid dog behavior problems altogether?  Take a look at Cesar Millan’s DVDs about mastering leadership.  There are a bunch of excellent tips to help new dog owners start out on the right foot — beginning from the moment you first bring your dog home.


More Myths About Dog Behavior