Dispelling some common myths about dogs

There are many myths about our pets, and some are so old that they’ve become facts in many people’s eyes. While some of these myths are harmless, others are filled with misinformation about a dog’s care, temperament, behavior and intelligence.

The American Kennel Club clears up some of the most common dog myths:

—Dogs age seven years for every one human year. FALSE.

This myth has been around for so long that most people see it as a fact. Although dogs do age more quickly than humans, the 7-to-1 ratio is not perfectly accurate. Dogs age faster when they are younger, and then the aging process slows down as they get older. The size of the dog also plays a role in the aging process. Larger dogs age faster than small dogs.

—A warm nose indicates sickness. FALSE.

The idea that a dog in good health should have a cold, wet nose is another myth. The temperature of a dog’s nose does not represent his health or sickness. Using a thermometer is the only way to accurately measure your dog’s temperature.

—Old dogs can’t learn new tricks. FALSE

We’ve all heard the expression “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” at some point in our lives. You can absolutely teach old dogs new tricks, like how to shake hands, speak or roll over. Keeping the training sessions short and fun, and using plenty of positive reinforcement such as treats and praise, can help make the training process easier.

—Dogs cannot see in color. FALSE.

At one point in time, it was believed that dogs can only see in black, white and shades of gray, and this myth is still fairly common today. Dogs have fewer color-sensitive cones in their eyes than humans do. However, it has been discovered that dogs can, in fact, see color, although not in the same way as humans. They can see blue, green-ish yellow and yellow, along with various shades of gray.

—A wagging tail means a happy dog. FALSE.

A wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy. While, a natural, mid-level wagging tail does indicate contentedness, most other wags indicate the opposite. A high, stiff wagging tail can be a sign of agitation, suggesting that a dog is ready to protect something, while a low and quick wag may express that a dog is scared and submissive.

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