5 Dog Myths Debunked

Can you really not teach an old dog new tricks?

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  

“You most certainly can,” says Jenn Michaelis, family manners training director at Port Chester Obedience Training Club. She says that “clicker training”—associating a sound with a certain behavior that’s followed with a treat—is particularly “engaging and empowering for older dogs.”


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“A wagging tail is a sign of a happy dog.” 

Not necessarily, says Woltz of Scarsdale’s Central Animal Hospital. It may signal anxiety, fear, or even an attack mode. Vets advise you to look at the whole dog –his positioning and whether his ears or head are down.


“One ‘dog year’ equals seven human years.” 

Nope. One-year-old dogs are already teenagers. While the human-/dog-year correlation varies (generally, large breeds mature faster and tend to have shorter lives), all dogs age quickly in the first few years, then slow down. To calculate your dog’s age, visit: www.akc.org/learn/family-dog/how-to-calculate-dog-years-to-human-years.

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“A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s.” 

Vets wonder where this one came from. It’s not as if dogs are brushing and flossing, says Woltz. Dogs like to nose around garbage, other dogs’ poop—and each other’s butts. Big, sloppy kisses from your pooch are great but not exactly sanitary. 


“Female dogs should have one litter before being spayed.”

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“Complete myth,” says Gwen Sherman, DVM, owner of the Mount Kisco Veterinary Clinic. “There’s no medical reason for that.” 

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