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Expert Discusses Top Dog Behaviour Myths

04 June 2015

AUSTRALIA - Dr Meghan Herron from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, discussed some of the common behaviour myths in dogs at the Pan Pacific Veterinary Conference, which was held in Brisbane, 24-29 May 2015.

“There are lots of myths and misconceptions about dogs, which can lead to owners misinterpreting their dog’s behaviour or applying the wrong types of training,” she said.

Some of the behaviour myths that Dr Herron discussed include the following:

My dog is aggressive or fearful because she was abused as a puppy

“While early abuse can lead to fear and aggression problems later, more often it’s due to lack of socialisation. Early social neglect is just as powerful, if not more powerful than early abuse,” Dr Herron says.

Dogs who act guilty know that they did something wrong

Dogs lack the fully developed cortex that humans have to process moral emotions.

“This part of the brain processes higher reasoning for emotions like spite, jealousy, guilt and remorse. Dogs are better skilled at making simple associations and often use appeasing behaviours when they expect an unpleasant interaction with their owner.”

If you use treats to train a dog, you’ll always need them to get the dog to obey commands

“Treats are used to positively reinforce behaviours. The best training starts with continuous reinforcement then can be transitioned to intermittent reinforcement. The new behaviours become even stronger with intermittent jackpot treats, where dogs are given several treats at once.”

Other common behaviour myths Dr Herron addressed included:

  • Dogs chase their tails or lick their feet because they are bored
  • Crazy owners have crazy pets
  • Puppies shouldn’t go to puppy classes until they’re vaccinated.


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