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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Many people live with a four-legged companion, but unfortunately misunderstandings occur again and again. Learning to understand dogs is extremely important in order to avoid biting incidents and to enable a pleasant life for both humans and dogs.

Wagging dogs are always friendly

Unfortunately, no. The waving merely shows us that the dog is aroused, that is, excited. This can be positive from joy, but also from stress, excessive demands, etc. Understanding dogs is not always easy, but with a little practice it will certainly work.

Barking dogs do not bite

Even as children we were told this dangerous myth. There are many reasons why a dog barks. There are also different kinds of barking. If the dog barks as a warning, it can growl or bite in the next step. In any case a barking dog is excited and should not be exposed to additional stress.

Smiling dogs are happy

Often dogs appear to us humans as if they are grinning broadly. But unfortunately this is mostly an expression of stress. The corners of the mouth are pulled far back, wrinkles form and the facial expression is tense.

But some dogs have actually copied the laughter from us. The front teeth are shown and can be confused with the threatening snarling of teeth. Some breeds laugh more often than others, but on the whole, dog laughter is rarely seen.

Dogs have a bad conscience

What looks like guilty behavior is the reaction to our behavior. An example: You come home, see the chaos (garbage can upset, furniture destroyed, etc.) and react angrily. The dog notices your anger and tries to calm you down. If this happens more often, it knows the next time that you will scold and calms you down as a precaution. The crouched gait, the big eyes and so on, we misinterpret as a bad conscience. There is also no point in punishing the dog for his deed, because he does not associate the punishment with the behaviour he did minutes or even hours ago.

dog harness that fits your dog

Yawning dogs are tired

If your dog just woke up, stretches and yawns he is still a little sleepy. But in many cases, especially in tense, stressful or insecure situations, the dog yawns to calm down, to express his discomfort or to relax the situation. 

Dogs that ride on are hypersexual

Of course, riding on looks like a sexual behaviour, but sometimes there is simply a skipping act behind it. This is shown as a reaction to great stress or excitement and is used to release, i.e. to compensate for the strong feelings.

Petting is a good reward

Yes and no. In a relaxed environment and provided your pet knows and appreciates touch, caressing can be rewarding. But often you can see people stroking their dog, for example over the head, when he has done something well. Only very few dogs want to be petted in a training situation, in this case the petting can even be felt rather negatively. Remember what it was like for you as a child, when relatives pinched your cheek or patted your head and said you had grown up. That is roughly how the dog feels. Pay attention to the calming signals whether your touch is pleasant or rather disturbing for the dog.

Man is pack leader and must assert himself, otherwise the dog becomes dominant

Unfortunately, this is still a widespread rumour. You can read up on what it is about dominance and the alpha theory here: Dominance

Old dogs cannot learn anything new

On the contrary, dogs learn all their lives! It is true, however, that dogs that have never learned to solve problems and are not used to try new things, have a harder time. If your darling was cognitively stimulated from puppies on, enough “pathways” were formed in his brain to make many things easier for him later in life. But even dogs for whom this is still new territory or senior citizens are able to learn, you just need a little more patience at the beginning.

Fear must be ignored, otherwise the dog is encouraged

No! Please never ignore your darling when he’s afraid. Fear is a feeling and not a behaviour and therefore cannot be intensified by your attention. However, avoid to react nervously or overprotective yourself. Just be there for your anxious dog and pay attention to what he needs. Maybe he wants to cuddle up with you, hide under your blanket, lean on you or just know you are nearby.

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There are many myths in the dog world. Questioning these and other often heard sentences makes it easier for human and dog to live together. Not everything you hear is true. Understanding dogs is essential in living together. Inform yourself and spread truths, not myths 😉