Reality check: The truth behind 6 common pet sayings

May 13, 2020 | Pet Owners

From teaching an old dog new tricks to cats always landing on their feet, these well-known adages about pets are more fiction than fact.


  • 1

    You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

    While puppies learn more quickly, older dogs can still learn new tricks and commands! It just takes a little more work and time.

  • 2

    Cats always land on their feet.

    It seems like cats land gracefully on their feet every time, but that’s not always the case. It’s possible for them to land the wrong way and injure themselves, especially when it’s a short fall. That’s why it’s important that windows and balconies have some type of screen and that tabletops and shelves are unappealing places for cats to perch.

  • 3

    Multiply your dog’s age by 7 for his age in human years.

    There’s no formula that applies to every dog, as the dog breed and size dictate how they age in human years. In addition, puppies mature more quickly in their first year. For example, the average 1-year-old medium-size dog is about 15 human years. Year 2 adds about 9 human years, and subsequent years add 4 to 5 human years.

  • 4

    Cats are nocturnal.

    It may seem like they’re nocturnal, but they’re actually crepuscular. This means they are the most active during dawn and dusk.

  • 5

    Dogs only wag their tails when they’re happy.

    A wagging tail can be a sign of happiness or friendliness, but it can also be a sign of fear, aggression, or anxiety. Look at the dog’s body language to determine how he’s feeling. Body rigidity, tail-wagging speed, how high or low he’s holding his tail, baring teeth, and growling all communicate information about a dog’s mood. If you want to pet someone else’s dog, it’s always a good idea to ask first.

  • 6

    Cats can’t be trained.

    They can be trained just like dogs! Cats respond best to short training sessions with treat-based positive reinforcement. They can be taught to sit, shake, walk on a leash, stay calm for traveling, and a variety of other commands.


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