Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

The other day I was taking Ellie for a walk right after a storm had passed through.

Ellie was nibbling on some grass in a neighbor's yard when the homeowner came out.

"Oh, poor thing. She doesn't feel well." my neighbor said.

"Oh, she's fine," I replied. "She just likes eating wet grass."

"Weird," said my neighbor, perplexed.

You see, she had always heard that dogs eat grass when they're sick and trying to make themselves vomit.

As it turns out, that's not true.

While some dogs do eat grass when they're nauseous, others do it out of boredom, opportunity, or they simply enjoy the taste of it, like Ellie.

Grass eating is just one of many dog myths that have been floating around over the years.

While some are true, many others are completely false.

Another false dog myth? Rubbing your dog's nose in his "accident" will prevent him from doing it again.

You see, you can really only correct a dog's behavior at the time the misstep occurs.

So, if you see your pup going potty in the wrong place, you absolutely should redirect him to the proper location right away.

But, rubbing your dog's nose in a pile of his "business" hours after the infarction has taken place, is just punishing the dog, and won't lead to a change in behavior.

It may even make the situation worse.

Now, speaking of dog's noses, have you ever heard that a warm, dry nose is an indication that a dog is sick?

This is false, plain and simple.

Many things can affect the wetness and dryness of a dog's nose.

Allergies, dry air, even taking naps.

The occasional dry nose is no cause for alarm.

However, if your pup's nose is chronically dry and cracking, you should make an appointment with your vet to get him checked out.

We've all heard the saying, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

This has actually been studied and proven to be false.

Senior dogs can learn new tricks, it just might take a little longer than younger pups, especially if their hearing and vision aren't as sharp as they used to be.

But with some patience – and a lot of treats – you can teach your old girl something new.

What dog myths have you heard?

Does your dog do "weird" things like eat grass like my Ellie?

Write me back. I love hearing stories about my readers and their pups.

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Bill Martin - July 31, 2020

My dog likes to suck her tail

Melissa - July 31, 2020

I have a nearly-11-year-old deer chihuahua named Leesha (as well as a big Lab mix & an Airedale). She has loved her stuffed friends since she was a tiny pup, two of them in particular, Christmas Bear & Puppy, & plays with them often. She clearly believes they are alive, just like her. Occasionally I will pick up one or the other & cuddle & stroke it & speak to it, asking if it wants to chat or tell me anything, & then turn its head toward her & speak for it, saying something like “Well, mom, it’s…. THAT dog, that one there, she’s mean to me, she drags me around & she bites me….”. By that time, Leesha cannot be contained. & jumps up to try to grab the furry friend, because…. SHE HATES IT WHEN HER FRIENDS TALK BAD ABOUT HER! If she didn’t yet manage to grab the toy from my arms, I will then toss it somewhere for her to run & retrieve it, & the play continues. It’s a favorite game in our house — we love ALL our furry (& feathered) friends!

Sarah Griffith - July 31, 2020

Love the info on Dogs..Thank you kindly for posting this <3

Taryn - July 31, 2020

Yeah, my dog is a weirdo…. She “snags” a piece of grass or a weed while running. Then hacks, coughs and gags to spit it out.

Debbie Woods - July 31, 2020

Both of my dogs love to eat grass and certain plants for enjoyment. But, one of my dogs will eat another type of plant when his stomach is upset and he wants to vomit. Crazy how they know which plants to eat for what their needs are. God Bless

Carol Bartholomew - July 31, 2020

I had a Yellow Lab that used to pick crabapples off the tree. Have pictures but don’t see away show you

JOanne Gustina - July 31, 2020

Hey Jeff!
My dog Franklin loves to eat grass too! Everyone says he’s sick also! Sometimes yes he gags and throws up.
But it seems to be his favorite treat when we take our daily walks. Have a great day and enjoy your time with Ellie!

Alvin D. Watters - July 31, 2020

I am glad you pointed out about the nose (dog) my wife and i were discussing that very thing yesterday thanks for the info.

Margaret Hacker - July 31, 2020

Feed mine green beans. One loves fresh asparagus from the garden. Seaweed snacks are a big treat.
As for potty training, they are praised when they go outside. They “feel” my aggravation and disappointment as I’m cleaning up an accident. Don’t have to say a word. They are clean by nature.

Susan - July 31, 2020

Jeff, I loved your story about Ellie. My Sandy loves to eat grass too. In fact she does not eat regular dog food—she’s a salad eater. Her lunch includes salad greens, shredded carrots, a bit of shredded cheese and a small handful of blueberries seasoned with turkey breast. When I adopted her she was 4 months old and a puppy mill rescue. She never took to eating dog food and I spent bundles trying to get her to eat various brands she always preferred greens. Her vet said apparently the diet agrees with her since she has remained within her optimal weight for 13 years and still eating greens. She also loves baked chicken breast and green beans!

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