American Kennel Club releases some “mythbusters”

Old dog learning new trick

As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

According to the American Kennel Club, one of the most familiar sayings about a canine’s ability to learn new things is a myth.

“You actually can teach an adult dog new tricks such as how to shake hands, speak and roll over by keeping training sessions short, fun, and using plenty of positive reinforcement including praise and treats.”

Other commonly held beliefs that the Kennel Club claims are myths (or not) include:

  • Dogs are sick when their noses are warm—False. It’s an old wives tale that cold, wet noses indicate health. The temperature of the nose does not indicate health or illness. The only way to tell your dog’s temperature is to take it with a thermometer.
  • A dog’s wagging tail means he’s happy—False. While a natural, mid-level wagging tail indicates happiness, most other wags mean the complete opposite. A high, stiff wagging tail means the dog is agitated and ready to protect something, and a low and very quick wag means the dog is scared and submissive.
  • Dogs can learn 250 words—True. The smartest, best trained dogs are similar to a 2-year-old child in their ability to learn and recognize words. The Border Collie is an example of a dog breed that can learn many different words.

Whether you have an old dog or a new puppy, one thing that’s always true is they need regular veterinary care.