Thinking about getting a new dog? As a puppy parent, you’re going to see your doggy do all sorts of cute things! She’ll kick up dirt after she goes to the bathroom, or decide to steal your slippers for a tasty treat. At some point, you’ll be wondering, “is my dog’s behavior normal, and why does she do that?” Read on to learn these top 10 dog behavior myths that will help you better understand your furry friend!
1. If my dog’s tail is wagging, it means she’s being friendly.
Dog’s communicate with body language and their tail is a prime indication of how they are feeling. But when a dog wags their tail, it can be for a variety of reasons, not just friendliness. While a big, swoopy wag usually means they are happy, other types of wagging can show excitement nervousness, or even aggression.
For instance, a straight tail with wags can indicate excitement, meaning their behavior is unpredictable, and not always in a positive way. Perhaps they just saw the mailman through the window and are seconds away from charging the door! Also, a rigid tail with little to no wagging can be a sign of impending aggression. It’s important to get to know your dog, and figure out what situations trigger different tail wags!
2. When I catch my dog doing something wrong, she looks so guilty!
I can picture it now. You’ve walked in the front door, entered your living room, and words can’t describe the scene that stands before you. Feathers are still floating, cushions have been cast aside, and chewed up fabric with dried spittle stains the floor. And in the very epicenter of this chaos, is your little pooch, sitting there with her head resting on her paws, her big droopy eyes pleading, “I’m so sorry Mom!”
Well, I’m here to tell you that you are projecting the emotion of guilt onto your dog, as dogs cannot reflect on past behavior. When your dog “gets in trouble,” and seems to be showing guilt, they are actually just responding to your negative body language. In that moment, they can sense that you are not happy.
3. My dog likes to lay around most of the day because she’s bored.
If your dog sleeps all day or likes to lay around, it is not because she is bored! I have a little Chihuahua of my own, and that girl sleeps half of her life away! It is very normal for dogs to spend most of their time resting (as many animals do), just make sure to incorporate physical exercise into their day.
Signs that your dog is bored are actually exemplified through more destructive behavior, like the shredding of furniture, scratching, or even pacing.
4. My dog only eats grass when she’s sick, right?
If you see your dog decide to chomp on some grass, do not panic! Dogs eat grass for all sorts of reasons, and it’s considered normal dog behavior. This instinct goes back to their ancestors, the mighty wolf, and can even be seen in wild dogs today as well.
Dogs will consume grass to fulfill an unmet dietary need, such as the need for fiber, digestion, or they might eat grass simply because they enjoy the texture of it! As long as the grass doesn’t have any pesticides, it shouldn’t be harmful to your pup. You might have to be on the lookout for green vomit later on though!
5. My dog likes to bury her poop after she goes to the bathroom.
After your dog goes to the bathroom, you might see her, and quite adorably, kick up grass with her back legs in an effort to “bury” it. On the surface level, it appears like your dog is burying her waste, but actually she is marking her territory and communicating by scent to other dogs. By kicking at the ground, she’s rubbing her scent pads (her paws) and releasing pheromones. This lets other dogs know her territorial claim and her sexual availability.
I kind of figured my dog wasn’t trying to bury anything after she went potty, because she’d take a few dainty steps away and then kick no where near where she went to the bathroom. Again, this dog behavior isn’t a tidiness trait, but more of an instinctual, communicative habit.
6. My dog is chewing up my belongings out of spite!
Just, no. I can promise you, your dog is not misbehaving out of spite. She might be acting out due to boredom, though. As discussed earlier, boredom leads to shredding, pacing, jumping, scratching, and the tearing of items (such as your beloved couch cushions).
The best way to avoid destructive dog behavior is to tire your puppy out with plenty of exercise. Consider a nice long walk, or even a trip to the dog park!
7. A dog that barks or growls is dangerous!
While it’s true that some dog barks indicate aggression, this is not the case for barking in general. For example, my Chihuahua likes to bark when she wakes up, wants a treat, needs to go potty, wants to cuddle, and so forth. Dogs can use their voice to express themselves, just like humans do! Pay attention to the different types of barking your dog will do. Some might be short, quick barks, other’s will be deep, guttural growls. Also, if you see your dog barking at a stranger, AND you see the fur on their back start to stand up, then you know this is an aggressive form of barking.
The bottom line is, dogs were born to bark. You can train them to bark less, but you should never punish your pup for this natural dog behavior.
8. I can correct indoor potty accidents by rubbing my dog’s nose in the mess.
First of all, I am not a fan of this tactic, as it almost NEVER works. When dogs are just learning potty training, they are going to make mistakes. That is normal dog behavior. Some owners believe they can correct this by shoving their dog’s nose in the accident spot, hours after it happened! However, dogs don’t know why you are yelling at them, especially if they made the accidents hours, or even minutes ago! At this point you’re only confusing your dog and making them afraid of you.
You can try telling them a firm “no,” but only if you catch them in that act (I don’t believe in grabbing them physically). But just remember, if you come home after hours at work and come across an accident, the damage is done. So instead of having a temper tantrum, try using potty pads to help guide your dog towards going outside.
9. All dogs can be social butterflies with the proper training.
WRONG! Just like humans, some dogs are more outgoing than others. And just like humans, some dogs are introverts at heart, even with expensive training. So don’t be too hard on yourself, if after months of dog park visits and a private coach, your dog has made no social progress. They just might like their personal space!
10. I can’t teach an old dog new tricks, so I should only adopt a puppy.
Again, WRONG! You absolutely can teach a dog new habits, especially with positive reinforcement and a healthy home environment. The best part about adopting an older dog, is that they have already gone through the tough teething phase and are looking for a life-long friend. You’re never too old to begin again!
Did you know any of these myths about dog behavior? Which one was the most surprising to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Author | Poli Sci & English Major | Chihuahua Fanatic | Avid Soccer Player | #QueenToStephenKing | “Be brave, Bright. Do your best.” | https://reinhartamber97.journoportfolio.com/