There are several facts about dogs that most dog lovers take for granted- for instance, a wagging tail means happiness, growling means aggression, dogs are pack animals etc... And certainly all of these statements are in the main part true, albeit using very simple sentences to explain some very complex concepts. Nevertheless, there are also several other generally believed assumptions made about dogs and dog behaviour that are often lauded to be just as true, when in reality, they have no basis in fact at all. Many of us are taught that dogs must have a wet nose if they are in good health, and that dogs see in black and white- among many other canine myths that are not actually completely true or in some cases, accurate at all!If you are wondering if you’re missing something and need some help in sorting the wheat from the chaff, don’t despair! We have investigated the top five canine myths and misconceptions to bring you the truth behind them.
The fact: Dogs have colour vision. The details: Dogs do have colour vision, although this is not the same as colour vision in humans. It is most commonly believed that dogs’ actual vision spectrum is similar to that of colour-blindness in humans, where dogs cannot tell the difference between colours in the red and green spectrums. Dogs are thought to be most clearly able to see colours such as blue, grey, yellow and green-yellow. This can be worth bearing in mind when buying toys or bedding for your dog!
The fact: A dry nose is not necessarily an indicator of illness.The details: Dogs’ noses are most often cold and wet, but it is not unusual for your dog’s nose to be dry on occasion too! When your dog has just woken from sleep, for instance, his nose will often be dry. A dry, warm nose was historically used as one of the diagnostic tests for canine distemper, as the condition causes the skin of the nose (and pads of the paws) to thicken, leading to them becoming dry and flaky. While a dry nose can be one of the indicators of ill health or general poor condition, on its own it should not cause undue alarm. Similarly, a wet nose should not be taken as the definitive indicator of good health either!
The fact: The maths doesn’t add up! The details: There isn’t really a definitive sliding scale where you can match up your dog’s development at a certain age to that of people with any accuracy. For instance, dogs and bitches can begin to reproduce from a year old (or even younger), something that is of course impossible for a seven year old person to do. Similarly, dogs can sometimes live to 15- 20 years old in relatively good health- far more dogs reach those kinds of figures than the human parallel of 105- 140 years old!Obviously, in reality, the lifespan of any dog is significantly shorter than that of a human, although this varies greatly from breed to breed. Dogs’ aging processes also slow down as they get older, with most of your pet’s milestones and significant developmental stages having passed by the time your dog is two years old, so there really is no one size fits all human to canine aging ratio.
The fact: There is no moral or biological reasoning behind this belief.The details: The concept of a bitch needing to be allowed to have a litter before spaying really has its roots in the anthropomorphism of our canine companions. Anthropomorphism means to transfer human beliefs and morality onto an animal- in this case, the belief that no woman is ‘complete’ or happy without having children- a belief rooted somewhere in the past and that is not considered, by most people, to be true today.The initial assumption that a bitch that was not permitted to have a litter would pine, feel broody or suffer from any health problems as a result has no basis in fact at all. Spaying your bitch before they have had a litter (or come into heat) actually has a massive range of positive health benefits for your dog, and she will never suffer for want of having a litter!
The fact: Training a dog of any age is theoretically possible.The details: The phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ has firmly made it into the annuls of popular culture, both when referring to the training of a dog and also, to refer to a person who is stubborn, unwilling or unable to learn a new skill. While teaching a young dog or puppy is often significantly easier than trying to train or re-train an adult dog, that by no means indicates that older dogs are incapable of learning new skills or acquiring new behaviour patterns. Dogs are very adaptable and learn throughout the course of their lives; as is borne out by the number of rescue dogs every year that are successfully re-trained and re-homed. One important factor to bear in mind when training an older dog, is that their sensory perception of the world around them and their cognitive processing abilities may also have changed. Your older dog might not have as much energy or mental agility as a younger dog, and their hearing and eyesight may not be as good as it was in their youth.You should make sure that you accommodate for the various factors such as these that are unique to older dogs, and adjust your training regime accordingly. But there’s no reason at all to not give it a go!