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Common dog-related myths busted!


Let’s talk about myths.

There are many common dog-related myths, ranging from totally harmless and silly ones, to serious and damaging ones. Here at PHDR, we feel it is important to encourage you or anyone you know to ask questions and do research if you have concerns or doubts on a topic-- this helps everyone be fully informed. It also helps us make the fastest, best decisions for our dogs. So, in the spirit of love and education, let’s BUST SOME MYTHS!!!

  1. Some dog breeds are too aggressive.

We’ve all heard this. X dogs are mean. Y dogs bite. Z dogs are too aggressive. Every single dog has a mix of personality traits. No single dog or dog breed is better/worse in any behavior category. It matters how we treat the animal and train the animal’s behaviors that matter most. We bet when you think of an aggressive dog you picture a BIG, booming, barking dog with a BIG mouth full of teeth. But did you know that, according to the National Canine Research Council, 81% of dog bites cause little to no injury? Perhaps because-- did you also know that chihuahuas are listed as the “top offender” of biting by Canine Journal? As they say-- you can’t judge a book by its cover. We can’t judge dogs by their breed type either. The best way to ensure your pet will not display/act on aggression is to learn how to read their body language, respect it, make sure others do too, and work with a trainer to help you with this process if you need to!

  1. Rescue dogs are "bad" because you don’t know where they came from.

People believe more myth-ical things about shelter and rescue dogs than we can count: They are too old, have behavior issues, they are untrainable, they are too shy, they won’t love again after being abandoned…. Truth is, dogs need rehoming for all sorts of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with the dog. Apartments don’t allow pets, family is ‘too busy” or works too much, family decides to move abroad, maybe the owner sadly passed away. These pets and most others will easily adapt to your household and learn to love you quickly! Or people might think they cannot “trust” a dog that isn’t purebred or you don’t know the history of. This is untrue! First off, you absolutely could get a purebred dog from a shelter. It happens all of the time. Secondly, dogs of mixed-breeds and unknown pasts are just as likely to be amazing companions as any breed of dog. And while rescue organizations can’t always give full histories, they can provide information on what has been observed during care-- including interactions with other animals and people, how the dog handles stress, any health information gathered, etc. There is plenty of time and consideration put into making sure this pup will be a perfect match for you!

  1. Having a fenced-in yard means your dog is safe from getting worms.

Yards with fences are awesome to keep our pets safely within their limits, but they cannot prevent other animals from carrying disease-causing parasites in as well. Squirrels, birds, stray cats, etc can all find their way into our yards and they often bring parasites too, in their urine and feces. Relatedly, Heartworm is carried by mosquitoes. So please, keep that monthly dose of meds coming.

  1. I keep my pet away from others-- I don’t need to worry about spaying or neutering.

Well, we wish it was that simple. Unfortunately, sometimes dogs get out of their enclosures or a friend stops by with their 4-legged friend, or we take Fido to the park. And they interact. We can’t control everything, even if we want to. But even more important than that, studies have proven that intact pets have higher rates of cancers and live shorter lifespans. Furthermore, spaying and neutering can limit unwanted behaviors like wandering off while in heat, marking the furniture, or mounting.

  1. A dry nose means a sick dog.

Generally, no. Dogs’ noses are warm and dry regularly... for a whole variety of reasons. Waking up after a long sleep is one great example. If the dryness continues persistently and causes issues, or if other symptoms are present as well-- definitely consult your vet. Otherwise, maybe just give your pup a drink of water to rehydrate ;)

  1. "If it is safe for me, it’s safe for them."

There are far too many things to list that are safe for you, but not for your pet. From foods like garlic and grapes, to medications like Advil or Aleve (Ibuprofen brands) it isn’t always intuitive to us how something that we enjoy or take to help us feel better could hurt our pets. But it is possible. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers and kidney failure in pets. Garlic can make your dog sick and lead to a breakdown of their red blood cells (hemolytic anemia). We know it is tough to think about. But it is important! Please always consult your veterinarian before giving your pet something new.

  1. Dog mouths are clean/ can heal by licking.

“Don’t you know that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s?” Sorry, no. We love our doggies and basically think they have super powers, but this isn’t one. Dogs sometimes eat poop or garbage or who knows what else…. Do you? Haha ;) Unless you regularly brush your dog’s teeth and gums, but do not clean your own mouth, it is pretty obvious who has the cleaner mouth. Now, saliva in general does have a healing quality, and licking can help clear debris from a wound, but it absolutely also deposits tons of bacteria and is far more likely to cause an infection than be helpful.

  1. A dog’s wagging tail always means it is happy.

While a wagging tail absolutely can indicate joy… it doesn’t always. Dogs wag their tails when they are afraid, feeling unsafe, and even warning you not to approach, too. Misinterpreting a dog’s body language can lead to a bite. The best method here, is to never assume. Do not walk up to dogs you do not know. Always ask the pet’s parent before reaching in to touch-- this is especially important for kids who are typically at eye-level with dogs (which dogs often perceive as threatening behavior).

  1. Cracking the windows is sufficient to leave a dog in a car.

Leaving a dog in a car on a hot day, even with the window cracked open, is extremely dangerous. For example, an 85 degree day outside, can reach over 100 degrees inside your car after only a few minutes. Extreme temperatures like this cause serious health problems such as heat stroke and death. Please do not do this.

  1. "Rubbing your dog's nose in it" will make them stop pottying in the house.

This last myth is terribly common and unfortunate. If someone finds an accident, say after waking up in the morning or getting home from work, to take a dog to the spot and yell and rub their nose in it is completely wrong. To start, the dog probably forgot already. And even if they know they did it, once they are returned to the ‘scene of the crime,’ they will not necessarily be able to connect the dots. So when someone yells at the dog or rubs the dog’s nose in it… the dog just ends up confused and scared. This honestly can just make things worse. It often chases the dog to search out a new, safer location to potty next time as well. Redirecting during the act, taking them outside immediately and praising for successes in the correct location are your best bet-- always!

Great job, buster! You just sleuthed out the truth for 10 common dog-related myths!! There are plenty others though, so please keep going. & If you ever have questions or would like assistance with a situation-- don’t hesitate to contact us or reach out to your local vet. We all want what is best for our precious furry friends.


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