18 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Dogs

As much as we love our canine companions, there are still a few things many of us don’t understand about them and their needs. To help you learn more about man’s best friend and how you can be theirs, we’ve compiled a list of 18 things everyone still gets wrong about dogs.

Wagging Tails Always Mean Happiness

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Most of us naturally see a vigorously wagging tail as a sure sign of happiness. However, as noted by The Healthy Pet Club, tail wagging can also indicate several other emotions, including anxiety, excitement, or even aggression. For this reason, it’s important to observe a dog’s body language and other cues before assuming they’re content and friendly.

Dogs Are Colorblind

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Some people mistakenly believe that dogs see no color at all. In reality, they do see some colors—their color spectrum is just more limited than ours. They mostly see in shades of yellow and blue, and their vision is adapted for seeing movement and in low light.

A Dry, Warm Nose Means a Dog Is Sick

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There is a common myth that a dry, warm nose always indicates that a dog is sick. However, the truth is that a dog’s nose moisture and temperature can vary for many reasons, including environmental changes, hydration levels, and activity levels.

Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks

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It’s not fair to our senior canine companions to assume that old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Dogs of all ages are capable of learning new commands and behaviors. While older dogs may require more patience, cognitive stimulation can actually be beneficial for their health.

All Dogs Know How to Swim

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Although many dog breeds are famous for their swimming capabilities, it’s not true that all dogs naturally know how to swim. Dogs with short legs and heavier chests often have a particularly difficult time paddling and swimming.

Dogs Eat Grass Only When They’re Sick

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While some people believe that dogs will only eat grass when they’re sick, they actually do so for a wide variety of reasons, including nutritional needs and digestion aids. Some dogs may snack on grass simply because they enjoy it. However, if your dog is an avid grass eater, you may want to discuss this with your vet to ensure there aren’t any scarier underlying causes.

One Human Year Equals Seven Dog Years

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The famous “seven-year” rule is easy to remember but an oversimplification of how dogs age. This is because a dog’s lifespan can vary significantly with its breed and genetics. Many smaller breeds tend to live much longer than larger dogs.

Dogs’ Mouths Are Cleaner Than Humans’

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It is a common misconception that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. In reality, their mouths contain just as much bacteria as a human’s mouth. As such, it’s important to practice proper dental hygiene and check their mouths regularly to ensure there are no health issues present.

Barking Dogs Are Always Aggressive

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Some people get the sense that dogs only bark out of aggression. However, according to the RSPCA, dogs actually bark for a variety of reasons, including excitement, fear, boredom, play, alerting, and seeking attention. You can get a better sense of a dog’s emotional state and intentions through its body language and the context of its barking.

All Dogs Are Good with Kids

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Many dogs make great family pets. However, some breeds don’t get along with kids as well as others. Dogs that are naturally more aloof, reserved, or aggressive may be less keen on children than friendlier pups. As such, it’s important to do your research and ensure you’re getting a dog that’s right for your family’s needs.

Dogs Hate Cats by Nature

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While it’s easy to get the sense that all dogs naturally hate cats, this is not reflective of reality. While a dog and cat’s relationship will vary widely according to their breed and temperaments, many can get along just fine when socialized correctly.

Dogs Who Sleep a Lot Are Lazy

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It’s not true that dogs will only sleep a lot because they’re lazy. A dog’s need for rest will vary based on many factors, including its breed, age, and level of activity. For example, larger and older dogs will typically require more sleep than others.

Growling Dogs Are Always Dangerous

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It’s understandable that we’d assume a growling dog is probably dangerous. However, dogs can also growl for many other reasons, including fear, uneasiness, or as a warning. You can get a better sense of why a dog may be growling from its body language and other context clues.

Feeding Dogs a Vegan Diet is Healthy

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While we may be tempted to feed a dog a more ethical and environmentally friendly diet, it’s not true that they can get their nutritional needs met through plants alone. Dogs are built to be omnivores who primarily rely on meat, so significant changes in their diet should always be monitored by a vet or nutritional specialist.

Dogs Always Enjoy Being Petted on the Head

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Some dogs love head pets, but others commonly find it threatening or see it as a sign of domination. Most dogs actually prefer it if you pet them on their chest, shoulders, or the base of their neck instead.

Smaller Dogs Are Easier to Train Than Larger Dogs

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Some people may tell you that smaller dogs are always easier to train than bigger breeds. However, trainability actually varies with breed, temperament, and consistency rather than size alone. Some smaller breeds can be very high-energy and stubborn, which can make them more difficult to train.

Dogs Can Always Safely Eat Human Foods

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While dogs are known for eating almost anything we throw at them, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful about what we feed them. The Kennel Club asserts that many human foods, such as grapes, chocolate, onions, and xylitol, can be very toxic to dogs.

Allowing Dogs to Lick Wounds Helps Them Heal

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As we mentioned earlier, it’s a myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. So while a dog’s saliva does have some antibacterial properties, it also contains potentially harmful bacteria that could infect wounds and exacerbate the problem.

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