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11 Dog Myths Debunked (Your dog wants you to be a stinky mess!)

What would happen if you didn’t shower for a week?

You’d likely be considered a menace to society.

But you know who will accept you for the stinky, sweaty, hot mess that you are? Your pup! Why? Is it truly unconditional love, or is there something weirder going on?

Well, that’s what we’re about to sniff out today as we chase down the truth behind some pretty bone-headed myths about our adorable, tail-wagging partners in crime.

We treat our dogs like they’re just small, hairy humans, right? I mean, they’re family, after all. Let’s face it, these little furballs are absolute champs at playing along! 

We, humans, have this habit of concocting all sorts of stories and rationales to explain why our dogs do the things they do. Over time, these fanciful tales have evolved into myths.

For instance, think about when your dog slaps you with a big, wet, sloppy kiss. Is it because they’re whispering sweet nothings in your ear, or could the reality be a tad… ickier? And what about when your pooch’s tail swings back and forth like a metronome? Does it always mean they’re in doggy nirvana, or could we be barking up the wrong tree? 

No need to panic, folks; I’m not on a mission to make your pup look like some kind of fuzzy, four-legged con artist. In fact, by the end of this, you might find that your Snuggle Monster’s behaviors are even more wholesome and pure than you initially thought!

Buckle up because we’re about to burst some bubbles! And trust me, you’ll want to stick around till the end when I tackle the Godzilla of all dog myths.

First on our list: Does your Snugglebug feel guilt?

You may swear your pup gives you those guilty dog eyes when they’ve gnawed on your favorite shoe. But is that really guilt, or are they just pulling a Jennifer Pawrence or Collie Berry-level Oscar-worthy performance?

Brown and white dog sitting on a torn sofa looking guilty.

I hate to break it to you, but despite the headhangs and puppy dog eyes, guilt is a pretty complex emotion requiring a level of self-awareness and moral reasoning that our cute knuckleheads just don’t possess.

I mean, these are the same critters who see themselves reflected in the mirror and decide it’s time to defend the household from… themselves.

Most experts believe that our tail-wagging partners in crime lack the cognitive abilities needed to feel guilty—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. In fact, they are likely mirroring our own expressions and responses. That “guilty” look is actually more about us, not them.

Some experts argue that dogs might have a more basic form of guilt—let’s call it ‘guilt-lite.’ They understand when they’ve done a no-no and will show submissive behavior to avoid punishment. Whether this is real guilt or not, the jury is still out.

So, our canine comrades might not feel guilt, but they sure can put on a show that tugs at our heartstrings and wins our forgiveness! 

Second myth: Dog Vision – Do They Really See in Fifty Shades of Gray?

The short answer is: Nope. But it’s not a Technicolor Dreamcoat, either. They don’t see in total black and white, but their color vision isn’t as diverse as ours. Dogs perceive the world more like a human with red-green colorblindness. 

A closeup of a dog's big brown eyes.

See, our eyes have special cells that detect three color ranges—red, green, and blue. Cute little doggy eyes only have two color cells. So they miss out on seeing all the red and green shades we take for granted. Bummer!

What this means is dogs view the world in mostly blue, yellow, gray, and just less color variety overall. So reds, greens, and oranges probably look very similar and muted to pups.

But here’s the cool part—because dogs see blue so well, buying blue toys for your pooch is a great idea! That bright blue frisbee will stand out nicely for fetch time. Just maybe don’t expect them to get too pumped about a green or red toy in the grass. Their vision is just more blue-yellow-focused.

You know what, it’s all good because what dogs lack in seeing some colors, they make up for with their crazy strong sense of smell. Your pup’s sniffer is 50 times more powerful than yours! So, who’s the loser here?

Next up: Do our Admiral Fluffertons see us as their pack?

Unfortunately for our wolf-pack fantasies, the answer is no. Turns out, they see us in an even more heart-melting light.

The old theory about dogs seeing us as pack leaders comes from studies on wolves. But, recent research tells us that wild wolves and domestic dogs live in family groups, not strict dominance hierarchies. 

A grey dog wearing a red sweater sitting on its owner's lap while getting a pet on the head.

The leader of the pack may be a parent, not because they won some fight, but because… well… they are the parent!

This means your fluffy friend likely sees you more as a mom or dad than an alpha leader. 

Cue the collective ‘Awww!’

Now, whenever someone calls you dramatic for calling yourself a ‘dog parent,’ first of all, how dare they? Secondly, as far as your pup is concerned, you ARE the parent.

Remember, these love muffins have been domesticated for thousands of years; they don’t see us as other dogs but as a unique category: humans. It’s an honor!

Moving on: Is a tired dog a happy dog?

You may have heard the saying, “A tired dog is a happy dog,” when it comes to getting your pup enough exercise. And there’s some truth to that! 

Physical and mental stimulation through playtime, walks, training are all super important to keep your Mr. Wiggle happy and healthy. However, here’s the scoop—those needs totally depend on the individual dog.

Every pup has their own ideal energy level based on their breed, personality, age, and health status. A hyper Jack Russell needs more zoomies let out than a chilled-out bulldog. And an elderly lab needs less activity than a young border collie. Gotta adjust for who you’re working with!

It’s also true you don’t wanna go overboard and exhaust your pooch. Moderation is key! If you notice limping or major lethargy after playtime, that’s a red flag to dial it back. Listen to your pup’s signals.

You know what? Some pups are just couch cuddlers at heart! As long as their basic exercise needs are met, they’re content to snooze all day. And that’s A-OK, too. 

Next, let’s wag over to myth number five: A wagging tail means a happy dog, right? …right?

Not so fast. Tail-wagging can mean a whole range of things, from happiness and excitement to anxiety or even aggression. The key is to pay attention to the rest of their body language. 

A brown and white dog wagging its tail and a text that says "Tail-wagging can mean a whole range of things."

Here’s your quick guide to understanding dog tail wags!

The slow wag: Sometimes this can mean your pup is feeling chill and happy, but it could also signal they’re feeling a bit anxious. If they’re licking their lips or yawning along with that slow wag, they might be trying to tell you they’re a bit on edge. 

The fast wag: This is typically your dog’s way of shouting, “Yippee!” It usually signals excitement or joy. If they’re bouncing around like a kangaroo or barking up a storm along with that high-speed wag, they’re probably super excited.

The high wag: You see that tail standing tall and wagging? Be cautious because this can be a sign of dominance or even aggression. If the pup’s growling or flashing a toothy grin, it’s likely they’re not in the best of moods. 

And lastly, the low wag: This one’s often a white flag. It can mean your four-legged friend is feeling submissive or scared. If they’re cowering or tucking their tail between their legs, they might be feeling a bit frightened.

Remember, though, the tail isn’t the only thing talking. Check out their whole body language to get the full story. If you’re ever in doubt about what a dog’s trying to say, it’s best to play it safe and give them some space.

What’s next? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, right?

Alright, y’all, it’s time to settle this myth once and for all – you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! That old saying is total baloney.

A lady teaching an adult Belgian Malinois some tricks.

A dog’s brain doesn’t just switch off at age 5! Training is actually mental exercise that can keep senior pups sharp.

Now, real talk—it may take more time and patience to train adult and senior dogs compared to hyper puppies, but with positive reinforcement and yummy treats, even old-timers can pick up new skills.

And hey, adopting a mature dog has huge benefits, too! Often, they’re already house-trained and calmer than youngins. Just make sure you have realistic expectations around training at any age.

The most important thing is NEVER using punishment or fear tactics. Studies show this leads to anxious, unhappy pups of all ages. What’s more heartbreaking than a sad dog? We won’t stand for it!

Before we tackle our grand finale, let’s do a quick myth-busting lightning round:

Myth seven: Eating grass means your dog is sick?

Nope! Dogs might sometimes throw up after a grass-eating fest, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they felt ill beforehand. Some dogs just have a strange taste in salad.

Myth eight: A dry, warm nose means your dog is sick?

Negative. The temperature and moistness of your dog’s nose can change throughout the day. If they’re showing other signs of being unwell, though, it might be time for a vet visit.

Number nine: Are all dogs Michael Phelps at heart?

No sir! Not all dogs are comfortable in water, and some breeds physically aren’t built for swimming. Always supervise your pup around water, and never force them to swim if they’re uncomfortable. Consider a doggy life vest if your dog does swim.

Number ten: Is nose rubbing in potty accidents the ultimate lesson?

Nah dawg! Dogs won’t associate the punishment with the accident. Instead, they’ll associate the punishment with you.

Repeat after me: Punishment-based training DOES. NOT. WORK. in the long run.

Ready for the biggest pupper myth ever? 

Does your pup lick you to say they love you?

Hell no!

Just kidding. The answer is yes and no. 

A lady getting licked by a big white dog.

You see, while the most common reason dogs lick their humans is affection, there are also some pretty weird reasons why your dog might be giving you a slobbery kiss.

For example, a lick might mean our Sherlock Bones is investigating something.

Dogs have super taste and smell abilities. That drooly lick could just be your furry detective gathering clues about where you’ve been, what you had for lunch, or even how you’re feeling. Weird for us humans, totally normal for doggos!

Then there’s the grooming lick. Yep, Lieutenant Licks-a-Lot might be trying to keep you clean, just like cats groom each other. A little strange, but a sweet sign they care about your cleanliness.

Ever had a gross-out lick? That could be because our Wiggle Butts actually love the salty flavor of our sweat. Yucky for us, gourmet flavor for them.

And now, prepare for the most adorable reason. Your dog might be playing Nurse Barkie, giving you a health check. They may lick your wounds, just like their wild ancestors did to clean injuries and speed up healing. But don’t encourage this—it might lead to infection.

They mean well, but a slobbery lick isn’t FDA-approved.

Here’s the big takeaway from all this: the bond between dogs and humans is extraordinary. Like, Hallmark movie special. 

Experts think dogs were first domesticated over 20,000 – 40,000 years ago! So we’ve had a long time to get to know each other. There’s been some real mutual adaptation between our species that just doesn’t happen in the animal kingdom.

We’ve evolved in tune with each other. Dogs can understand and follow tons of our verbal and visual commands—something even our closest cousins, like chimps, can’t do! No other species communicates with humans like dogs can. 

And we’ve worked together to do amazing things like herding, hunting, helping people with disabilities… Our teamwork is next level! 

Dogs also attach and play with humans in this incredible way from puppyhood. Their oxytocin levels even spike like a human baby’s does with their mom! How stinkin’ cute.

When you look at all the facts, the dog-human relationship is pretty damn exceptional. We’re BFFs who’ve shaped each other over thousands of years!  

Look at your Snugglebug. What you two have is beautiful. Even if they eat gross stuff off the ground when you’re not looking, or cover you in a slobbery kiss, or try to savor the flavor of your stinky feet.

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