The 10-to-1 Rule
We all want our pets to live a long time — forever, if possible — or at least as long as we do, right?
Unfortunately, part of the bargain when having a dog is we are making a commitment – a promise to our dog – to support him and meet his needs during each stage of his life. Broadly speaking, a dog’s life can be divided into five stages:
- Puppyhood (if we adopt or buy a puppy)
- Those facepalming, self-medicating-with-wine adolescent years when we extract remote controls and Ferragamo pumps from their mouths on a regular basis
- Those sweet, relaxing, calm middle age years
- The beginnings of being a senior dog when we begin to notice slight age-related changes in their appearance or health and,
- Full-on senior doghood.
There are many factors that affect how long a dog will live. These factors include but aren’t limited to:
- Breed (with smaller dogs living longer than large or giant-breed dogs)
- Genetics – those health and life span factors inherited from a dog’s parents
- Nutrition (early)
- Regular vet visits for both preventative care and early detection of health issues
- Exercise and enrichment
- Making sure our home is set up to nurture and support our dog’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.
- Age when neutered/spayed
- Dental care
Understanding how a dog’s aging clock works, in comparison to ours, can help us wrap our mind around what we need to do to meet our dog’s needs at any age.
The 10-to-1 Rule For Your Dog’s Life
A Dog’s Aging Clock
We’ve all heard that one human year equals seven dog years. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly true. Dogs age at a much faster speed when they are young — puppyhood or adolescence — and age at a much slower rate as they get older.
I view a dog’s aging clock in a more practical way, and teach my dog training clients to think differently about how a dog ages. I call it the “10-to-1-Rule.”
If you average the life span of all dogs, regardless of breed, and compare it to the average lifespan of humans, one human year equals approximately ten dog years! If you break this down into days, a much more manageable chunk to time: One day for you equals ten days for your dog.
The Importance of Sleep
So, knowing this, a key way to increase our dog’s lifespan is by making sure he or she is getting the proper amount of sleep. I’m talking real sleep, not dozing off with one eye open.
A lack of sleep can be detrimental to your dog’s health in several ways. A few examples include:
- Weight gain or decrease in ability to lose weight
- Weaker immune system
- Poor eating habits
- Diminished ability to focus and concentrate
How can sleep improve a dog’s health and well-being? A deep, refreshing sleep is healing in several ways:
- Proper sleep increases and supports a dog’s immune system by detoxifying the body of free radicals
- It increases oxygenation
- It detoxes the dog’s mind so he’s better able to focus and process information. This is key for training exercises.
- Sleep helps a dog recover and heal faster from illnesses and injuries
For your dog’s mind and body to function properly and to increase a dog’s lifespan, ensuring he is getting enough restful and rejuvenating sleep should be one of your main priorities as soon as you bring him into your family.
One way you can help make sure your dog is getting enough proper sleep is to provide different sleeping areas. All sleeping areas should:
- Make your dog feel safe
- Be the correct size. The sleeping area shouldn’t be too big or too small
- It should be either a dark or minimally lit area with soft lighting
- The space should feel inviting to your dog
You may also want to provide two to three or more sleeping spaces throughout your home, such as:
- A bed or crate in your common living area
- A bed or crate in your laundry room
- A bed or crate in your bedroom
- A cave or den-like area, such as a bathroom, mudroom or large walk-in closet
The key is to create a safe, inviting space where your dog can get restful, healing sleep. Not only will this improve his health and quality of life, it can help extend his lifespan and isn’t a long, healthy, happy life what we all want for our dogs?