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Common Misconceptions about the Things Our Dogs Do

Monday July 20th 2015

While many dog owners feel like they share a special bond with their pet that allows them to understand how they're feeling, the truth is that our dogs often do things for reasons that we don't always understand. Here we take a look at some of the common misconceptions about the things our dogs do.

Common Misconceptions about the Things Our Dogs Do

Tail wagging

A happy or excited dog is commonly accompanied by a wagging tail, so it's no wonder that many people automatically think that tail wagging is a sure sign of happiness. The truth isn't quite so positive however, as a wagging tail could also mean that your pooch is scared or nervous.

While you can’t count on one aspect of your dog's body language to determine their emotional state, other clues should give you a good idea of how they're feeling. If a wagging tail is combined with relaxed, drooping ears and a dog that's happy to hold eye contact, it's safe to assume it's in a very good mood. If on the other hand the dog is standing to attention and looking uneasy it may be distressed, and should be approached with a degree of caution.

Eating grass

Your dog is well fed, and yet when given half a chance they can't help munching on some grass - why? Experts can't agree on a single reason dogs eat grass, instead believing that different dogs do it for different reasons.
The good news is that eating grass isn't harmful for most dogs (providing the grass hasn't been treated with harmful fertilisers or pesticides), and only 1 in 4 will vomit after eating grass. However, it can be a symptom of something else - your dog might just be eating grass out of boredom for example, which can easily be remedied by making sure they have access to toys.

Other dogs might simply find it tasty, or use it to fill a nutritional need that isn't being met by their current dog food. More seriously, if your dog has suddenly started eating grass out of the blue, it could be a sign of an underlying problem - they might be having stomach troubles or feeling anxious for example. If you have any reason that your dog's grass-eating habit is down to a poor diet or illness, consult a vet.

Dogs will grow out of bad behaviour

It's tempting to hope that unruly puppies will settle down as they grow older, but you have a much more realistic chance of your puppy becoming a well-behaved dog if you teach them to be well-behaved. There's plenty of great advice online about how to effectively and humanely train your dog, but if you need some extra help investing in some obedience classes will pay off in the future.
Behaviour is all down to breed

While it's true that different breeds were developed for specific purposes it would be incorrect to say that every dogs' behaviour is solely down to their breed. Their upbringing has a large part to play in their personality and behaviour – so don't assume that a dog belonging to a breed typically associated with being friendly and calm doesn't have the potential to be aggressive and anti-social if you be aggressive and anti-social if you don’t teach them to behave around humans and other dogs with sufficient care and training.

That doesn't mean that as a parent you should avoid breeds that aren't so good with children – you just can't expect dogs to develop certain traits based on their breed alone.

Jumping up on your lap

While your dog might do this because they want to show you affection, it can also be a sign of dominant behaviour. If you're happy for your dog to sit with you, make sure you teach it to stay first and wait for your command to join you, otherwise it might start demonstrating more problematic signs of dominant behaviour.

Chasing tails

You probably think that a dog chasing its own tail is completely harmless - and in some cases you'd be right. Many dogs chase their tails because it's fun, or because they like the attention it gets from amused humans - but sometimes it can be a sign that something is wrong.

Dogs may chase their tail because of discomfort caused by worms or fleas, while a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety or trauma may start tail chasing as a compulsive disorder. While it may be that your pet is perfectly happy, if you notice your dog constantly chasing its tail and looking distressed while doing so, a visit to the vet will make sure it isn't in any danger.

This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc, an insurance company who offers pet insurance.