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Alpha-Rolling, Peeing, and Rubbing Their Nose In It: Myths about Puppies

A new puppy in the house means a lot of things: Adorable antics, some minor property damage, and, of course, dozens of well-meaning “dog experts” ready and willing to bend your ear with their fail-safe tips and lessons on raising a puppy. Unfortunately, most of these experts are merely perpetuating the same old myths about puppies that have been going around for years. The real problem is the conflict between correlation and causation: Few people realise that just because their experience correlates with a myth they’ve heard, this does not mean the myth is actually true.

In an attempt to dispel these myths and perform a public service, then, here are some of the most fact-devoid myths about puppies that you should always refuse to believe, no matter how passionate they are supported by your well-meaning friends and family.

Myth One: Rub Their Noses in Their Mess

This old chestnut is perhaps the great-granddaddy of puppy myths, the ideas that the most effective way to train your puppy not to go to the bathroom in the house is to pick them up and rub their noses in their mess. As with most myths, it seems reasonable, which is why people believe it: Negative re-enforcement tends to work on people, after all. But dogs are not people, and a puppy will never make the logical link between the unpleasant experience and their actions from minutes or hours before. The fact that as the puppy ages he or she stops going inside the house more or less naturally often seems to support this myth – but it’s a myth. A better way to train your puppy is to reward them when they go in the appropriate place.

Myth Two: Puppies Like To be Hugged

Puppies are adorable, and we often have the urge to hug them and nuzzle them. Part of this is the fact that puppies (and kittens) have evolved to resemble human babies superficially – this is actually the evolutionary process of selection, because the cats and dogs who most resembled human children were kept as pets, while less-attractive cats were not and so did not survive as well. But puppies view being held closely as aggression. One reason they lick your face when you’re hugging them is because they’re signalling their submission to you, in the hope that you’ll release them. Some aggressive behaviour in a dog can be traced to unwanted hugging. This can be especially dangerous when it involves children, who are often quite rough with animals.

Myth Three: You Can Teach a Dog Using Alpha Rolls

An Alpha Roll is when a dog rolls over and exposes its belly. Dogs do this to signal submission with each other, but it’s a voluntary action. Pushing a dog onto its back and rubbing its belly doesn’t teach the dog that you’re the Alpha – it merely confuses them. Your puppy will view you as the Alpha naturally. Just because they view you as the Alpha doesn’t mean they won’t be aggressive or wild, and it doesn’t mean they will automatically obey commands – most likely they don’t understand your commands. Forcing Alpha Rolls on them won’t accomplish anything but perhaps irritating them and inspiring a snarl and a bite.

Puppies aren’t people – it’s important to remember that. A puppy is not only not as complex intellectually and emotionally as a person, they are also not capable of learning the same way we are. Instead of relying on third-hand wisdom from folks whose only qualification is having had a puppy of their own, learn the facts and find the appropriate ways to train and interact with your animal so the two of you can have a long, loving relationship together.

So there we have it, some myths which are just that, myths. Ready to make the next step and get yourself a puppy? Get in touch with us here at Tora’s for more information about our beautiful Australian Labradoodle puppies.

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