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Experts debunk some popular myths about dogs

Times wires

Myths about our pets have been around for ages. Some have even been passed down from generation to generation. Many are harmless, but some, if acted upon, can actually harm your pet. To help pet owners separate fact from fiction, the American Kennel Club debunks some of the most popular dog myths. Among them:

Dogs hate the mailman. False. Dogs really don't have anything against mail or the people who deliver it. If your dog barks at the letter carrier when he comes to your house, it's probably just because dogs have a natural instinct to protect their homes and families from intruders. When your dog sees the letter carrier approach your home and then walk away quickly, it reinforces to him that his barking is what scared the letter carrier away. But if you want to keep the peace, then try closing the shades around the time your mail is typically delivered so that your dog can't see outside, or leave on a television for background noise.

Dogs have a look of love. True. Puppy love really does exist. When your dog looks at you with those big eyes and you think he just wants some treats, think again. When dogs lock eyes with their owners, that can genuinely be a look of love and not just a form of begging. Dogs can develop this behavior with human companions with whom they are very close.

A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's. False. No one knows why, but it was once believed that dog saliva was antiseptic. This is not true. A dog's mouth carries even more bacteria and germs than a human's. Keep your dog's mouth squeaky clean by brushing his teeth regularly using a canine toothpaste, since human toothpaste can upset a dog's stomach. Provide your dog with hard, safe chew toys as well. The natural process of chewing also cleans his teeth.

Dogs and cats are enemies. False. They can peacefully coexist, especially if raised together from kitten- and puppyhood. If you're a dog owner looking to add a cat to your home, carefully consider your dog's breed to make sure he doesn't have a strong hunting instinct for small animals. Keep the two separated for a few days so that the cat can get acclimated in a room with the door closed and your dog can sniff by the door to get used to the new scent.

For more information on responsible dog ownership, visit the AKC website at www.akc.org.

Experts debunk some popular myths about dogs 12/31/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 6:44pm]

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