10 Most Interesting Facts About Dogs

Do you need to settle a friendly argument about dogs? Or perhaps you’re just wanting a bit of canine information for a quiz night, or a school project? Dogs are part of our lives, and our families. The more we know about them, the richer their lives will be, and the better we will be able to take care of our best mates.

If Dog FAQs are of interest to you, here are the 10 most trivial and interesting facts about dogs.

Are Dogs Color Blind? Do Dogs See Color?

Color blindness is the term used when people see a different color to what is actually there, and this depends on which color receptors in the eye are affected. There are two types of color blindness in people. A person with red-green color blindness cannot distinguish between these two colors, and a person with blue-yellow color blindness can’t tell the difference between yellow and blue.

vision comparison

Dogs are good at seeing objects which are blue or yellow, so their normal vision is most like a person who has red-green color blindness. What humans process as red, orange, yellow or green can appear as different concentrations of yellow to dogs. Blue-green, blue and violet appear as saturation’s of blue. Colors like green or red are not distinguishable. Simply put, a canine’s color vision is not as rich or intense as that of humans.

Dogs do, however, have more rods in their retina, which makes them superior at low-light vision and being able to see slight movements. This ability is how they survived in the wild, when they had to hunt for food at night.

Dog_Vision_Spectrum_1

Why Can Dogs Only See Blue and Yellow?

It’s all to do with their eyeball anatomy, specifically the retina. The retina lines the inside of the eye, and when light passes through the lens, which is the aperture at the front, the light bounces onto the retina, and the cells transmit the image to the brain. The retina has two types of cells. Rods, which detect light levels and motion, and cones, which differentiate colors.

Dogs have two types of cones, and can only recognize yellow and blue, along with mixes of these, whereas humans have three types of cones and can identify combinations of red, blue and green.

“Blue and yellow are two of the colors that dogs see best,” says Dr. Erin Wilson, Director of Shelter Medicine at the ASPCA Adoption Center.

Where Do Dogs Like To Be Touched?

Believe it or not, I’ve seen my dogs cringe when certain people walk towards them. These people are extremely nice and just want to pet the dog, but they do it all wrong. In fact, if they approached an aggressive or highly stressed dog in the same manner, they would likely get bitten. 

Children can be too energetic for many dogs, so it’s important for everyone’s safety if the kids are taught how to engage with a dog, even if that dog looks friendly.

Just like us, dogs have personal boundaries which we should respect. They don’t all like to be touched, much less lunged at by an enthusiastic human.

Generally speaking, dogs will let you know if they give you permission to touch them. They will sniff you, and have a comfortable, easy stance either sitting or standing beside you. They will be looking at you, almost inviting you to stroke and pet them.

If you are petting your own dog, they are used to you so you can pretty much approach them as you normally would. This only applies, of course, if they don’t repeatedly shy away, or look stressed when you do touch them.

If the dog is not yours, try to be non-challenging in your approach. Don’t stare the dog in the eye and lean over them. Turn your body slightly away, stay upright if you can, and reach your hand to their shoulder or chest. Once the dog is comfortable with you, they will either walk away, or they will get in a bit closer and let you know it’s OK to touch them.

If your dog rolls onto their back, give their belly a rub and a stroke. This is one of my dog’s favorite things to do. It took a long time to get her to be that comfortable. She was quite nervous when we got her, so it’s a lovely affirmation of the trust she now has.

Which Dogs Are Hypoallergenic? 

Which dogs don’t shed? This is a very common question. Unfortunately there’s no such thing as a non-shedding dog. All dogs shed, but some do so less than others. If you’re allergic to dogs though, you’re not really allergic to the dog’s coat. You’re having an inappropriate immune response to an allergen produced by the dog. This could be in the dander (skin cells), urine or saliva. The dander gets caught in the dog’s coat, which leads us to think we’re allergic to the hair.

Have a look at my article, The 10 Best Dogs For People With Allergies, to find out all the facts, what to look for and what to avoid.

How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough?

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is an infectious condition in dogs, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses or the dog’s environment. Factors such as dust, smoke, stress, cold temperatures and poor ventilation (often passed from dog to dog in shelters or boarding facilities). The dogs acquire kennel cough by inhaling the bacteria or virus into their respiratory tract.

Signs of Kennel Cough

Most cases are not serious, and apart from a forceful, hacking cough your dog will usually want to eat and exercise as normal. Some dogs with kennel cough may show other symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge.

Treatment and Prevention

Remember it’s contagious, so keep your dog away from others until they are back to normal. They will need rest, and you could talk to your vet about vaccination. The vet may also prescribe some medications to clear up the current infection. These include antibiotics that target Bordetella bacteria, and cough medicines to relieve symptoms.

Can Dogs Eat Strawberries?

Yes, they can, but due to the high sugar content they should be a treat only. Only give your dog fresh fruit, not canned or bottled in syrups. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), strawberries are full of fiber and vitamin C. They also contain an enzyme that can help whiten your dog’s teeth, and fresh fruit may help slow down the aging process and strengthen the immune system.

Remember to always wash fruit before you feed it to your dog. Unless you’ve grown it yourself, you don’t know what pesticides or chemicals have been applied to the plant and the fruit. Take a look at the Guide To The Human Foods Your Dog Can Eat, for more, safe treat ideas.

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Dogs in the wild will eat anything that fulfills their dietary needs. This includes grass and other vegetation, which is most often in the stomachs of their prey. Just like us, dogs need roughage in their diet in order to keep their digestive tract healthy and regular.

Dogs will also eat grass if they’re bored, and because they like the taste and the chewing factor. Many people think that they do it because they have an upset gut, and they need to vomit. This isn’t accurate. The majority of grass-eating dogs are not sick beforehand, or after eating grass.

Eating grass may occasionally be associated with a diet deficient in nutrients, vitamins, or minerals. If your dog is on a well-balanced, commercial diet, they should not be nutritionally deficient.

Why Do Dogs Bark? 

Dogs do not use the same bark in all circumstances. Barking is one of the ways a dog will communicate, along with other methods like their body language, growling, whines and facial expressions. Dogs will vary the pitch of their bark, the number of barks in a row, and the space between barks in order to express different meanings. Generally, the type of bark, plus the body language means we humans can usually understand what our hound is trying to say.

What Do Different Dog Barks Mean?

Territorial/Aggression

If your dog thinks their territory is being invaded, or they feel threatened, they will stand and face the perceived threat and begin barking. The barking may become louder and more excessive as the threat approaches, or it does not back-off. Usually the bark is of a lower-pitch, indicating a warning to the intruder.

Fear

Dogs may bark when a noise or a movement frightens them. Their ears will be back and tail tucked when they are in a state of fear, and they may whine as well. The barking will be higher-pitched, indicating almost a call for help.

Playful/Excitement

Jumping, running round, tail-wagging and a happy demeanor accompany this bark. It will be dependent on your dog’s personality whether it is an occasional bark or prolonged and excessive. It will usually cease when the excitement is over, or your dog has managed to get you out for a walk, a treat, or a game, etc.

Boredom/Separation Anxiety

Dogs love company. They’re not happy to be left alone for long periods of time, and may bark and howl when they’re lonely. They will often just be sitting down if they’re bored, and the barking is almost like an expectation that if they keep going, someone will come. If they are suffering from anxiety, it may become excessive, and there will be other signs such as pacing, chewing, and digging. Read my article on ‘How To Help Your Dog With Separation Anxiety’, if this is an issue.

How Do Dogs Learn?

Dogs are inquisitive and intelligent and love opportunities to learn, especially if rewards are involved. It’s important to be consistent and clear with your dog. If you say, “When you’re a good dog and learn not to chew the furniture, I’ll take you for a ride in the car and we’ll go for a walk”. Your dog will only hear “Good dog, car, walk!”

Simple and clear instructions, followed by positive reinforcement by way of a treat or a toy when they get it right. Telling a dog off if they get it wrong, accomplishes nothing. It just makes them nervous, and ruins the fun for both of you.

You could try marker training. This is a highly successful training method used by service dog trainers. It uses positive reinforcement and is a research based, effective, efficient way to teach dogs. Basically, you use a clicker or a specific word (mark), and when your dog has completed successfully what you require, you immediately follow through with a treat.

If your dog is not completing the instruction, go back to teaching them what you want them to do. Don’t keep repeating something that isn’t successful.

Help your dog to learn by showing them what you want. use a hand signal or a treat lure to make them ‘sit’ or ‘come’ or ‘wait’, etc. When they get it right, reward it. It takes repetition and consistency for your dog to learn new skills, so make it easy. Remember, your dog is intelligent, so if you keep repeating the same thing too many times, they’ll get bored.

Is One Human Year Equal To Seven Dog Years?

I remember hearing that rule when I was very young, and was amazed that my dog was actually, really, nearly a hundred years old! Of course I now know that’s not the case. Depending on the breed of your dog, their maturity occurs at varying speeds and times.

As a rule of thumb, most dogs have the maturity of a 15 year-old human by the time they’re one-year old. By the time they’re two-years old, they are like a 24 year-old adult human.

After that, for every year they’re alive, add around 4 human years. So, if your dog is six-years old, that’s about 40 human years. At 12 years old, they’ve reached around 64 human years.

Do Dogs Wag Their Tails When They’re Happy?

Tail-wagging is just one of the many ways our hounds communicate their feelings to us, and other dogs. Every dog has their unique personalities, so it follows that a wagging tail can mean different things to different dogs. A normal and natural tail position varies from breed to breed. Make sure you know what your particular dog’s tail is supposed to look like when they’re happy, or fearful, or aggressive.

As a rule of thumb though, a tail wagging energetically from side to side at mid-level, is usually a sign of happiness or welcome. This is especially true if the rest of your dog’s body language is in agreement. They are relaxed, excited, and not displaying any signs other than calmness and ease. They will usually be looking at you, or walking near and around you at these times.

So the simple answer is yes, many dogs do wag their tails when they’re happy! Other cues to look for in your dog’s tail language include:

  • Helicopter tail (the type that moves in circular motions). Means your dog is really pleased to see you!
  • If your dog’s tail wags slightly to the right, research suggests this may be a sign that your dog recognises the person or dog, and is comfortable.
  • A tail that is a lot lower but wagging slightly, usually means the dog is worried, but willing to connect and see what happens.
  • A tail clamped between your dog’s legs means that your dog is fearful and they want to protect themselves.
  • A high tail that’s wagging fast often indicates intensity and excitement, but how the dog really feels will be down to all sorts of factors. The rest of your dog’s body language comes into play here, so be observant in order to figure out exactly how they feel.

Final Thoughts

There’s so much to know about our hounds. The more we find out, the better able we are to understand them. Our lives are enormously enriched by having a dog, and it’s important to remember that we have a duty to make sure they have a great life, too. One of the most valuable things we can do is not expect them to be like us. We aren’t better than them, and we should respect their unique personalities and ways of being. That way, we compliment each other, and we are truly our dogs’ best friends.

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