Here are my 6 top dog behaviour myths busted! Many of these are based on old fashioned alpha dog theories. These theories were debunked almost as quickly as they were presented, but unfortunately are still being used.
Reducing attachment solves separation anxiety
This is a common dog behaviour myth. But, actually, dogs need to feel security of a strong pack to feel safe. Knowing they have a great team behind them gives them the confidence to try new things, and settle when alone.
In fact, medications used for this type of anxiety (such as Zylkene) often simulate the feeling of an attachment bond. So feel free to sleep with your dog and cuddle them as much as you like, you can’t cause separation anxiety by loving your dog too much!
A dog will get used to anything if you expose them to it enough
When in fight or flight mode the reactive brain is in charge. The reactive brain is not concerned with learning new things, it only cares about keeping the dog safe. The thinking brain won’t re-engage until the dog feels safe again. This means that as long as a threat is present, the thinking brain is over-ridden and no learning can take place.
It’s actually worse than that! The reward centre of the brain is activated if the reactive brain was successful at keeping the dog safe from harm. So, not only will there have been no learning, but the reactive brain is actually encouraged for next time!
You can’t have an all male or all female pack!
Whether dogs can live together has nothing to do with whether they are male or female. It all comes down to personality and values. If you have two dogs that value food highly, you might see a clash. Likewise, if they both like the same bed, toy, or look out spot. But, that has nothing to do with whether they are male or female. Or whether they are young or old or neutered, for that matter.
Another dog behaviour myth busted… Check out this video about why you should never use food to “dominate” your dog
New dogs should be submissive to the dog that is oldest, or was there first!
This also comes down to values. Not age, or who was there first. Some dogs are very laid back and others aren’t. The worst thing you can do is try to influence how they feel about each other and any pecking order they might have chosen. This will only cause fights between them, and it could make the dog your favour very anxious, especially around you and resources!
Longer walks will tire your dog
Occasional long walks will, of course, tire a dog. But if you regularly take long walks the dog will just get fitter and you’ll not see the benefit. Even when it does, it doesn’t take long for a dog to recharge, so the benefit will only be short lived.
If you really want to tire out your dog try taking up a hobby like scent work or teach them some new tricks. Brain and nose work is far more exhausting than a walk.
Dogs need to be entertained
An important skill for any dog is to learn how to be bored. Being bored is great for overall mental health and reducing anxiety. If we keep entertaining our dogs they can become dependant on activity and won’t cope well when they run out of things to do. This can lead to separation problems, hyperactivity, and destructive behaviour. Embrace the boredom!
Are you struggling with your dogs behaviour?
Private Dog Behaviour Consultations are currently available in the Dundee area and beyond, or via zoom. If you are looking for help solving your dogs behaviour and training problems, then please get in touch!