The bond between humans and dogs has continue to grow and blossom over the years. More households are now making it a point of necessity to include a canine companion. The attention dogs are now enjoying have increased drastically, especially from the media, where either books or articles appear daily on one aspect or another of dog behavior or the human-dog relationship. However, it seems we still don’t have a firm handle on who dogs really are and what they require from us. Persistent folklores about dogs appear time and again and they dent our ability to interact successfully with our loyal four-legged canine friends.
Award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff, author of Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do(link is external), has busted some canine myths.
Dogs display dominance
All animals, including human and nonhuman, display dominance. This is a essential aspect of social behavior. However, some people are so uncomfortable with the idea of dominance in dogs which can result to harm on both sides. The fact is, dogs do exhibit dominance and we need to dominate them in order to get the behavior we want.
Don’t get it twisted; showing dominance over dogs isn’t the same as displaying aggression or bullying them. So, to “dominate” a dog, you might grab their scruff and throw them to the ground and howl at them. This is cruel and ineffective, it’s just you being brutal to your loyal companions. Unfortunately, the idea that we need to dominate our dogs in order to make them compliant has had a certain tow among trainers and dog owners.
Dogs display dominance. Training methods that rely on instilling fear, punishment and intimidation of dogs are unnecessary, and unethical.
Dogs feel guilty when they eat our expensive items
Bekoff explains in his book that the original belief that dog don’t feel guilty after an overzealous act of destroying our beloved items like expensive shoe or bag, is wrong. Humans are not good at reading dog communications as it relates to possible guilt feelings. Bekoff says he has a good deal of confidence that dogs do feel guilt.
Dogs don’t only live in the present, they have memories too
The notion is that dogs don’t always worry like humans do because they are always living in the here and now, they don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Bu this is false. From a whole range of researches, dogs anticipate and plan for the future they have thoughts and memories of the past. Anyone who lives with a dog rescued from an abusive or neglectful home knows this well. Trauma always leaves a mark on a dog’s mind.
Dogs don’t love us unconditionally, but love us based on how we treat them
The belief that our dogs love us no matter how terrible we are or what we do or how poorly we treat them – is wrong. There are some criteria and conditions we must meet for dogs to love us, just like humans. Your dog won’t love you if you don’t feed or/and brutalize them.
Dogs don’t only need a soft bed and food in a bowl, they need more
A soft bed and tasty food are essential basics. They need a lot more from us than this. Dogs rely on us for intellectual and emotional stimulation and for social support. In order to really give our dogs what they need, we must understand who they are. To achieve this, Bekoff says, we must all strive to become more observant of our dog’s behavior and can make a rigorous effort to learn about the behavior of our best friends. We need to try to see the world from our dog’s perspective so that we can provide them an interesting and meaningful life.