How well do you really know your dog? We tackle some of the most common misconceptions about what’s good for your pooch. Test your knowledge!
- There are seven dog years in a human one
Wrong! No two dogs are the same, so working out how long a year feels to your pooch isn’t as simple as just timesing it by seven. Some breeds take much longer to reach maturity than others while typical lifespans vary depending on size and health. But all dogs will live up to two – human – years longer with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
- Dogs can’t see colour
It isn’t true that your pooch can only see the world in black and white. While they can’t see the world in full colour, they can make out more than we think. Most dogs can see blue and yellow but red and green appear as shades of grey – good to know if there’s anything red and poisonous growing nearby!
- You can't teach an old dog new tricks
Just like humans, dogs find it easier to learn new things when they’re young. Puppies will learn very quickly but that doesn’t mean an older dog can’t learn something new.
Motivate your pooch with their favourite treats and pile on the praise. Repeat training sessions little and often, keep them fun and always be positive. You’ll have your pooch high fiving you in no time.
- Rescue dogs are all damaged
Lots of people think that there’s a reason dogs are placed in rescue – and that it’s because something is wrong with them. This couldn’t be further from the truth: nine times out of ten it’s the owner’s fault that pooch has wound up homeless, not the dog’s.
People think that rescue dogs will come with behaviour issues or problems but it’s simply not the case – the most common reason for rehoming a dog is because their owners just don’t have the time for them. Getting a dog from a rescue can actually work out much better for you – after all, the dog’s personality will be fully formed so you can tell right away if you’re going to get along.
Plus, many rescues will give you support in the rehoming of your dog and any decent centre will make sure both you and the dog are happy together. Give a rescue dog a chance.
- My dog has a guilty look on its face
Shredded toilet roll all up the stairs? Chewed shoe at the front door? That look on your dog’s face is often mistaken for guilt, but dogs don’t feel shame the way we do. It’s likely that expression is a response to your disappointment or anger and a way of them reacting to feeling threatened.
- I need to be the leader of the pack
Aggression towards other ‘pack members’ does not mean you’re the leader. In fact, dogs recognise pack leaders by who provides the food – so unless your dog is feeding you, you don’t need to behave with dominance to assert your authority.
It’s down to you as the automatic ‘pack leader’ to teach our dog how to behave and socialise but your pooch will never be competing with you to pull rank. Any method of training that causes your dog fear or pain is simply cruel – positive reinforcement is the best way to teach your dog people skills.
- My dog’s eating grass so they must feel sick
Lots of people mistakenly think that dogs only eat grass when they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t and are trying to make themselves sick. Some people think it’s because they’re missing something from their diet and need to get it from the grass instead.
But actually, your dog probably just fancies some greens. Grass tastes nice in the summer when it’s lush and fresh – although you should make sure the lawn your pooch is eating hasn’t been sprayed with anything and that they’re up to date with their vaccinations.
- Female dogs need to have litters
Dogs can’t feel broody so there’s no need to let them have a litter before they’re spayed. There’s no proven health or behaviour benefit and in fact, you could just be contributing to the number of unwanted puppies in rescue centres.
Spaying a female dog massively reduces their risk of breast cancer and prevents womb infections or false pregnancies – which can affect their behaviour.
- A bit of chocolate won’t hurt
Chocolate can kill dogs, that’s a fact. How dangerous they find it depends on the size of your dog and the type of chocolate they eat. Small amounts of milk chocolate probably won’t be dangerous for a large dog, but why run the risk?
There’s a chemical called theobromine found in chocolate that’s toxic to dogs. Because it’s in cocoa, the darker the chocolate the higher the risk. If your dog has eaten any chocolate, call your vet at once.
- It’s fine to leave my dog in the car
We’ve saved the big one till last.
It’s never OK to leave your dog alone in the car, even with the windows down, no matter what the temperature. Dogs are unable to sweat it out like we can so they find it hard to regulate their body temperatures and stay cool.
Cars heat up much faster than you expect and heatstroke can be fatal in just a few minutes.