Should I get a dog? - Myths and misconceptions about owning a puppy according to experts
From ‘naughty’ dogs to swimming dogs, misconceptions and myths about our furry friends are about to be debunked.
As we usher in another new year, a huge number of us are contemplating welcoming a furry companion into our lives. Some of us have made the jump and are tackling puppy-care for the first time but the majority remain unsure as to whether owning a dog is right for them.
Lorna Winter, dog expert and head of training at puppy training app, Zigzag, is set on debunking many common dog-owning myths and misconceptions that might be stopping you from choosing the right canine cutie or interrupting your puppy-care and training.
Here’s six common dog myths and misconceptions according to experts you should be aware of before you buy or train a puppy.
1. You shouldn’t have a dog if you live in the city
As a blanket statement, this is a total myth. However, depending on the breed, dogs require different things from their environments.
A larger, more energetic dog like a labrador needs open space to roam. But a dog like a Show Cocker Spaniel may prefer to go on walks while having the comforts of pampering.
Most dogs just need frequent interaction, play-time and walking which means location shouldn’t deter people from getting a puppy. According to Lorna Winter, If your dog does require more physical activity, then setting up scent trails in the home is the perfect way to nacker your restless pup.
2. Smaller dogs are easier to handle
Chihuahuas… hello!? This common misconception has been debunked on a number of occasions. According to a study by AKC, smaller dogs are more likely to feel anxious which can make your worried puppy less responsive to commands.
No dog is ever ‘easier’ to train than another and an over-excited small dog can be a pain to handle especially when compared to a larger, more placid breed.
3. Naughty dogs are untrainable
The concept of a ‘naughty dog’ is incorrect. Puppies don’t intentionally behave badly. Instead, they behave naturally and test the waters by performing a behaviour that may have been encouraged by the owner.
Nipping, biting and jumping are completely normal in puppyhood; but when a puppy ages, it’s important to be trained out of these traits.
According to research conducted by Zigzag, many dog owners would give their pup away for displaying totally normal behaviours. Instead of viewing behaviour as ‘naughty’, instead view it as a way your dog is trying to communicate with you, for example, furniture being ripped up can be a sign of separation anxiety.
4. All dogs are great swimmers
Simply put, some may love it but for others swimming can be dangerous. Many dogs will naturally bound for a little paddle as soon as they’re near water but for dogs with respiratory issues like Pugs, it’s strongly discouraged.
Similarly, smaller dogs are more prone to hypothermia and dogs with heavier skulls, such as bulldogs and mastiffs, are not strong swimmers. While training a puppy, an expert can show you ways to safely introduce the activity.
Life jackets are also recommended for puppies as they learn to wade through water and if you haven’t seen how cute the accessory can look on… you’re welcome.
5. A well-trained dog will never bite
Don’t be surprised if you see the best-trained dogs bite. It’s important to understand animals will always react naturally when they feel threatened or scared.
Dogs are naturally protective over their territory and are prone to reacting if their space is being invaded. Just like humans, dogs have a fight or flight response and they can be a little unpredictable… especially when tired.
Experts insist that to avoid bites; don’t play with your puppy with your hands and feet. Using a toy is far safer and will encourage pups to sink their teeth into something soft instead of someone’s skin.
Ideally your puppy should be sleeping for 18-20 hours per day, but that will vary depending on the breed. You should also avoid over-touching your dog and respect its personal space when eating to prevent confrontation.
6. Dogs can feel ‘guilty’
We’ve all been there when we’ve had to discipline our little companion when out of nowhere, they pull a well-crafted, gooey-eyed expression that makes your heart sink. According to Lorna Winter, the fact is dogs don’t have a concept of guilt.
What they do have is a way to interpret our behaviour and display body language that is appeasing, which we view as ‘showing guilt’. If your pup has done something wrong and you confront them about it, they actually have no clue what it was they have done - they just know that you’re cross or displaying disappointed behaviour.