Common Dog Health and Safety Myths That Are All Bark And No Bite

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After weeks, months or even years of doe eyes and relentless nagging, you’re considering… just considering, bringing a dog into the home. For them it’s a source of tremendous joy and excitement, but for a responsible parent, it represents a significant amount of thought and more than a little anxiety. A dog can be a loving and protective presence in the home, a loyal friend, a mood booster and a genuine member of the family. Unfortunately, they can also be a hazard. At best they could chew your furniture, befoul your garden and destroy every pair of socks in the house. At worst they could inadvertently harm your children or your neighbor’s children.

pit-bull-2047469_960_720Image by Pixabay

There are many things that a responsible parent needs to consider both when determining your kid’ safety and their ability to adequately care for their new friend.

You must consider the breed of the dog; larger dogs obviously need more exercise and (especially when young) will be very energetic and boisterous rendering them perhaps unsuitable for younger children or those of a nervous disposition. Different dog breeds will have different nutritional requirements and can also be prone to certain congenital health defects. All of that selective breeding is bound to take its genetic toll, after all. Then there’s the decision of whether to get a pup or an adult dog. Although both will require care and training, adult dogs have the potential to be more agreeable and lower maintenance than their adolescent counterparts.

Whatever size, age or breed dog you have your sights on, it’s important to make an informed choice based on proven fact. Unfortunately, the world of pets is one of the fields in which hearsay, old wives tales and other strains of “common sense” prevail over research and logic. In order to choose the right dog for your family, and to keep all parties healthy and safe, you’ll need to shake off some common canine misconceptions…

[X breed] is more aggressive and likely to bite

There’s nothing more irritating to dog lovers than when the actions of a single dog leads humans to decry the entire breed as dangerous. That logic has seen entire breeds outlawed, yet it is no truer for dogs than it is for humans. That’s not to denigrate the seriousness of a dog bite. A dog bite can cause not just profound physical injury but psychological trauma resulting in fears and phobias. That’s why dog bite lawyers exist to protect the victims of these unfortunate incidents. Nonetheless, a dog’s breed does not make them inherently aggressive. Any breed of dog can demonstrate aggression but nurture is a far more important component than nature.

A dog has to have her first heat before she can be spayed

When your dog is in heat she can cause other dogs to behave in some very unpredictable ways. While these are just the “niceties” of animal courtship they can be terrifying if your child is walking said dog. Unless you intend to breed your pooch you should have her spayed at the earliest opportunity. A good veterinarian will be able to tell you when the time is right for your dog. Spaying early is not just beneficial for your child, but your dog, too. An early spay severely reduces her risk of breast cancer.

Canine body language

A great many myths and preconceptions (more of that toxic “common sense”) have arisen around canine body language. Humans think they know what their pet is trying to tell them and this can lead to dangerous misunderstandings. For example, a wagging tail isn’t always a sign of happiness, it can also be a warning to back off. Likewise, when your dog bounds around the house upon seeing you get back from work, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy to see you. It can mean that they’ve been understimulated and have a lot of pent up energy that they need to release.

animal-dog-pet-dangerousImage by Pexels

Barking is a sign of aggression

Most of us shout when we’re angry or threatened… But do you ever shout when you’re happy or excited? It’s exactly the same with our canine counterparts. If your dog barks at another dog or a visitor, it’s not necessarily a sign of aggression. It could mean that they’re excited to see them, or that they’re asserting themselves over their territory… or even that they want to play.  

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Unfortunately, this ancient adage has soured many on the prospect of adopting adult dogs. Unlike their human counterparts, dogs can learn and adapt to changes in circumstances at any age.

Hopefully shedding these widely held misconceptions will help you to find a fuzzy friend who’s a beloved pal for all the family.

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