Popular Myths About Dog Behaviour

 

Myth 1: A wagging tail means the dog is happy

Most dogs almost always wag their tails when they are happy and excited about something but a wagging tail doesn’t necessarily mean a happy dog. Dogs wag their tails when they feel threatened. It can also indicate a social challenge in some situations where a dog is trying to establish his superior position in a pack(dominance). The dog can also wag his tail when he feels uncomfortable in a situation. The context is important and so is the kind of wagging, the speed and the rest of the body language. This is the reason why many people get bit.

While understanding the dog behavior, it is not just one sign you look at. The combination of different parts of the body language needs to be taken into account before you come to any conclusion. .

 

Myth 2: Dogs attack without a warning

Dogs almost always give a warning before attacking you. It may not always be a growl or a bark. Some dogs give cold stares, some dogs freeze in their tracks, some just growl and let you know they are not comfortable. Each dog might have a different style to convey the warning, they almost always give a warning before they attack. There are certain situations where the dog may hardly give any warning before the attack but more often than not, there is a warning. If you recognize the warning signs and stop making the dog uncomfortable, chances are he will back away!

 

Myth 3: Dogs jumping up are trying to dominate us.

This myth could not have been farther from the truth! Jumping up to greet you at your face is more often than not an appeasement behaviour which dogs offer in an effort to make you happy. In the wolf world, subordinate wolves lick the face of an alpha wolf! So jumping up to lick our faces is anything but dominant. The dog/puppy is just trying to get your attention. With appropriate training, you can let him/her know that there are other, better ways to get your attention than jumping up on you.

 

Myth 4: All Growling dogs are aggressive.

Dogs can growl sometimes to tell you to back off in certain situations, this does not mean they are always angry when they growl. Sometimes dogs also play-growl which is in no way an act of aggression. You will notice that sometimes when you are playing a tug of war you can hear your dog growling, most of the times it is playful growling. (If you are not sure if the growl is an aggressive growl or a playful one, it is a good idea to consult a behaviorist instead of taking the risk of being bit)

Myth 5: Dogs know what they did wrong, they look so guilty.

Dogs do not have complex emotions like us humans. When you come back home and see a chewed up couch, and scream angrily at your dog, the dog cowers because he is responding to your body language, not because he feels guilty. Try using the same angry tone of voice when he has not done anything and you will notice the dog still looks guilty!

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