The truth about dogs (and cats)

Dogs don’t get along with cats? Whatever.

So you’re cruising down the information super-highway, your new dog strapped safely in the side-car next to you. You’ve driven this road before, though, so you know that confusing road signs and faulty directions are commonplace. Before you’re led too far astray, take a look at a few of the widespread myths about dogs:

A wagging tail means a happy dog.

Nope, not necessarily. How fast the tail is moving and how high it’s held tells you more about the dog’s state of mind than whether or not the tail is actually wagging. Generally, the faster the wag and the higher he’s holding it, the more aroused the dog is. Look at the language of his entire body — and consider the surroundings — to better gauge how a dog is feeling. If he’s wagging like crazy, but also barking his head off at the Beagle across the street, it probably means he’s on high alert (as opposed to making friendly small talk).

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Not only is this untrue, it’s bad advice. Training your dog can and should be a lifelong endeavor. The process keeps him sharp, motivated, and mentally stimulated — plus, it’s one of the most satisfying ways to spend quality time together, as it strengthens the bond between you.

Apartments are no place for big dogs — they require a yard.

Greyhounds, Mastiffs, and Great Danes (among other breeds) can make excellent apartment pets. Every dog needs daily exercise and fresh airand it’s up to you to see that yours receive bothbut dogs with mellow temperaments can be both happy and well-behaved in compact living quarters.

Neutering/spaying makes dogs fat and lazy.

Lack of exercise and overfeeding makes a dog fat and lazy. Neutering or spaying makes a dog less likely to bite or run away, more likely to get along with other dogs, more content at home, and much less likely to contract certain types of cancer.

Cats and dogs don’t get along.

While we’d never recommend introducing a high prey-drive dog into a home with a timid or fearful cat, many felines and canines raised together as siblings grow up to become the best of friends. The key is to socialize the two to each other early, preferably by the time your pup reaches 12 weeks of age. (Dog and hamster, different story.)

And finally, a bit of truth.

You’ve heard that chocolate, onions, grapes, and raisins are dangerouseven fatalif consumed by your dog? Believe it. Now, go get back on that highway. Your dog loves the feel of the wind whipping through his fur…