Admit it, the melancholy sound of a howling dog sends chills up your spine, doesn’t it? If you’re not the superstitious type, then you may blame Hollywood for this association. We’ve all seen movies where the howling of a dog foreshadows something ominous, but do you know where the roots of this concept come from?
The idea that dogs are in tune with the supernatural has been around a long time, and is believed by many cultures. One of the most common superstitions is that a howling dog is an omen of death or extreme misfortune. It’s impossible to trace this concept back to a single source, but here are a few of the more widely accepted origins:
Norse legend links this belief to Freyja, the goddess of magic, love, fertility, war and death. The story goes like this – when Freyja is playing the part of the goddess of death, she rides her chariot on the crest of a storm. This fanciful chariot is pulled by two enormous cats. And since felines are considered canines’ accepted enemies, the belief is that when dogs sense the approach of Freyja they begin to howl at the goddess and her magical oversized cats.
When it comes to dog behavior, myths are misleading and downright hurtful to the dog. We train dogs to help establish a bond and teach acceptable behavior. However, if you believe behavior myths and follow them, you can harm your dog and jeopardize your relationship with him. Most dog owners have heard all kinds of common dog myths, and some people still believe them. Here are seven myths that relate specifically to dog behavior.
Dog Behavior Myth #1: Dogs know when they’ve done something wrong and that’s why they have a ‘guilty’ look.
The truth is, dogs don’t equate things they do with wrongdoing or guilt. The so-called guilty look we see is just a reaction by the dog to your body language and tone of voice. When you walk into the kitchen and find the trash spread out on the floor, your dog isn’t hiding in the corner because of what he did. He’s hiding there because he knows how you’ll react and is showing you submission in an attempt to please you and relieve your tension.
Dog Behavior Myth #2: My dog is trying to take charge when he won’t listen to me.
If you don’t teach a dog how to behave, he won’t listen to you for the simple reason that he doesn’t understand what you want. Even a stubborn dog will follow, as long as you lead and teach. You have to motivate a dog just like a teacher needs to motivate their students. ‘Come’ is one of the harder basic commands for dogs to learn because there is no motivation to come. Calling him usually means playtime is over or he’s in trouble. Never punish a dog for coming to you. Calling him to come and then punishing him when he does is the best way to teach him not to come when called.
The dictionary defines a myth as a belief or set of beliefs that are false or unproven. Facts and myths have a way of getting tangled up with each other and it’s hard to pull them apart. Dog myths can actually be harmful to the dogs if people believe them. In this article, I will set the record straight for six common dog myths.
If a dog is wagging his tail, he must be friendly. This common dog myth may garner a bite for those who believe it. Dogs wag their tails for different reasons. You can tell by a dog’s body language if he’s friendly. His tail is relaxed and straight out as he wags it, and he looks happy. A more aggressive or dominant dog will hold his tail up over his back and may be wagging only the very end of his tail. A playful dog will also hold his tail up over his back, but it’s swishing from side to side. A dog that’s submissive, afraid or anxious will have a tail that hangs down with a wag that seems uncertain, which is exactly how the dog is feeling. Never approach or pet a dog you aren’t familiar with until the dog has been given a chance to properly check you out.
When a dog does something wrong, they know they’re in trouble. They do know they’re in trouble, but not because of what they did. They haven’t a clue why we’re standing there yelling, waving our arms and getting red in the face. We may not be experts at reading a dog’s body language, but they are experts in reading ours. Plus, dogs can read our emotions on our face by what’s called a left gaze bias. In short, dogs read our moods just by looking at us. When a dog hangs his head and gives us those puppy dog eyes that say, “I’m sorry,” it has nothing to do with the torn up chair or scattered trash on the kitchen floor. You should never play tug of war games with your pet. This common dog myth will only deprive you and your dog from having fun. Tug of war is one of the more natural games for dogs to play. In the wild, wolves and wild dogs fight over their prey, and the one who wins the tug of war wins the food. A game of tug of war is a great way to teach your dog you’re the one in charge. You won, and that makes you leader of the pack in his eyes.
That dog just tried to bite me. This common dog myth gets canines in trouble all the time. If the dog had wanted to bite the hand next to his head, he would have. A dog’s reflex is much faster than ours. He only sent a warning shot across the bow that says to back off. Dogs snap to send a warning that “the next one will be the real McCoy and I won’t miss.” A snapping dog isn’t trying to bite, he’s just asking you to leave him alone because something is bothering him.
You should never allow your dog to growl. Dogs communicate in different ways with each other and us. Growls are one of the tools they use to signal to us, other dogs and even cats to leave them alone. A growl is a request to back off because something is bothering your dog and he’s uncomfortable. Give him space just like you’d want if there was something gnawing at you. There’s also nothing wrong with a playful growl during a game of catch or tug of war. It’s never wise to take a dog’s voice away because that’s his way of letting you know how he feels.
I can tell if my dog has a temperature by his nose. This is a very common dog myth. A dog’s nose can be dry and warm in the morning, and wet and cold when he gives you a sloppy kiss on the cheek an hour later. It’s normal for his nose to be one way or the other at different times of the day. The only way you can tell if your dog has a temperature is by taking it with a thermometer and yes, you have to do it using a digital rectal thermometer. Never take your dog’s temperature using a thermometer with mercury in it because sometimes it can be sucked inside the dog and break. Mercury can make the dog very sick. The normal average temperature for a dog is 101.5 degrees.
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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.