Dogs often communicate their wants and needs to us, but since we don’t speak the same language as them, sometimes their behavior can be misinterpreted. Here are some of the most common myths about dog behavior and what your dog’s behavior actually means.
Myth #1: If a dog lies around all day, that means that they are bored.
Dogs actually spend a large portion of their time sleeping and resting, which is common and normal among many animals. Dogs typically express boredom and pent up energy through more active behaviors, like pacing, chewing on things, or jumping.
Myth #2: If a dog won’t look you in the eyes, it means they don’t love you.
Although human beings express love, caring, and affection by looking one another in the eye, for dogs, eye contact is often perceived as a threat or aggression. Therefore, it’s not personal if your dog isn’t interested in maintaining eye contact!
Myth #3: Dogs misbehave out of spite.
Dogs don’t ruminate on past situations like people do, so if they misbehave, it’s not because they’re mad at you or punishing you for something that you did. Unwanted behavior typically stems from other factors, such as boredom, anxiety, or lack of training.
Myth #4: Dogs experience guilt.
Since dogs can’t reflect on their past behavior, they aren’t capable of experiencing guilt. However, they are very good at learning associations. In videos that show dogs exhibiting “guilty” behavior, the dog is actually just responding to the owner’s tone of voice and body language. They are not experiencing guilt for a behavior that they might have engaged in hours earlier.
Myth #5: Dogs that growl or bark are dangerous.
It’s actually a good thing when dogs growl and bark. They can’t use language like we can, so growling and barking is their way of telling other people and animals that they aren’t happy, to back away, and that they need their space. Dogs that are punished for growling and barking can then learn that the only way to communicate or protect themselves is by snapping or biting.
Myth #6: Shelter dogs have more problems and issues than other dogs.
Dogs often end up in shelters for reasons that are no fault of their own, such as landlord restrictions, people moving to new locations, and owners passing away. There are many wonderful dogs that pass through shelters. Shelter staff and volunteers also get to learn the personalities and temperaments of the dogs so that they can help you to find the canine companion that is the best fit for you!