Some dog breeds are more aggressive than others

This is probably one of the most common misconceptions about dog behaviour. While some breeds have naturally stronger hunting and fighting instincts, the final role in raising a well-balanced and stable dog belongs to the owners. There are a lot of examples of snappish little dogs that run the household and keep the people in a tight grip. There are also a lot of obedient Pit Bulls and Bull Terriers that, typically, have a reputation of aggressive dogs. Please do not be biased. If a dog is raised with clear human leadership, good obedience training and proper socialization, it should ensure a well-balanced and stable temperament whatever the breed is. Don't blame the breed for your mistakes.

Setting limitations for a dog is cruel

Limitations are something completely natural. Moreover, it is something most dogs need because of their instincts. In the wild, any pack leader will set limitations and rules for the rest of the pack. Even parents will usually set limitations for their kids in order to protect and discipline them. Don't hesitate to clearly let your dog know if there is something it is not supposed to do.

When my dogs jumps on me, it's a sign of love and happiness

It may be so, but it may also be a sign of dominant behaviour. It's not that your dog should not jump on you at all, but it should jump on you only with your permission. If this is not the case and the dog keeps jumping on you over and over again while you wouldn't like it to (and you can do nothing about it), it's clearly being dominant. Follow this link to learn how to stop your dog from jumping.

My dog understands what I tell it

If you train your dog to understand certain words such as typical dog commands (to sit, lay, stay, etc) then, to some extent, you may say that your dog understands words. But talking about daily communication, it's not the words that dogs understand but the body language and the inner energy you emanate. If you feel fear, the dog will instantly know it. Dogs are much better mind and emotion readers than we think them to be. That's why it is important to be a confident pack leader: if you don't feel true confidence within, the dog will feel it and won't obey whatever you say. Dogs don't follow affectionate, compassionate or unsure leaders. Dogs follow confident and firm leaders.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks; anti-social and aggressive dogs can't be rehabilitated

Unfortunately, there is a number of cases when this is true but it is quite rare. Most "hopeless" dogs can be rehabilitated successfully. That will take a lot of patience, firm leadership, time and probably even professional help, but it's worth it. There nothing is impossible for a person who really cares. Dogs live in the Now, their "thoughts" are always in the Now. They have a great ability to leave past troubles behind and to move on, as long as there's a caring person beside that understands dog psychology and dog instincts.
Photo of Labrador by Neil Dorgan

Love is what dogs need first of all

Beyond doubt, dogs need our love. But many owners tend to unconsciously ignore or forget about other needs and instincts of the dog. First of all, all dogs need sufficient physical and mental exercise including discipline. If a dog doesn't burn its physical energy and its mind is not occupied with some kind of directed activity, the animal may become destructive, aggressive, fearful, possessive, or develop an obsession. Because of their nature, dogs primarily need physical and mental exercise, and only then love. Remember about that.

Small dogs don't need daily walks

This is one of the most common mistakes owners of small dogs make. Dogs always remain dogs regardless of their size, and they always have natural needs mentioned above. Please don't make your small dog a prisoner. Walk with it on a regular basis like you would do with a large dog. Don't plead a lack of time. When you take a dog, you also take responsibility to take care of its daily needs (both physical and mental) to make your companion happy.

Small dogs don't need training and discipline

A small dog cannot cause real damage, so sometimes people think it doesn't need much training and discipline. This is not quite so because even a tiny Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier can become a trouble maker with its excessive barking, possessiveness, combativeness, being snappish, and so on. Obedience training and discipline are always a must, for both your and your dog's benefit.

Jealousy is a true sign of love

Your dog should realize that you are free to do what you want and whenever you want. This is your privilege as a pack leader. If your dog is jealous of you, it most probably doesn't accept your leading position and considers you to be its "property". Usually, jealousy is just another form of possessive behaviour.

See also: Things every dog owner should know