Charlie Regnier is an eight-year old chorkie

So 1 dog year equals 7? Not so fast…

Everyone says it: One year for a dog equals seven years for a human. But like a lot of things everyone says, it’s wrong.

By Linda Lombardi

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

Everyone says it: One year for a dog equals seven years for a human. But like a lot of things everyone says, it’s wrong.

Dogs do have life stages a lot like humans’, but the math isn’t that straightforward. To start, a 1-year-old dog isn’t equivalent to a 7-year-old human.

“If you look at a 1-year-old dog, he’s sexually mature,” says veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker. “They still have a little filling out to do and they’re not completely mentally mature, but they’re full adult size and capable of reproducing.”

Veterinary behaviourist Dr. Lisa Radosta suggests thinking of a 1-year-old dog as roughly mentally equivalent to a 13-year-old human. This means that a lot of development is packed into your puppy’s first year.

“If I keep my human baby home for the first year of her life, it doesn’t matter. I have a lot of time before she gets to kindergarten age at 5,” Radosta says. “But if you wait with a dog, you now have a teenager on your hands a teenager who’s never seen a UPS truck, never seen a man in a hat, never seen a dog who barks at him.”

That’s why it’s critical for puppies to get out and learn about the world during that first year. Within the first four or five months, they go through distinct periods when they are most open to different kinds of experiences and new people. Positive exposure in that period lays a sound foundation, but you also need to look out for a second stage, usually somewhere between 4 and 8 months, when dogs may develop new fears.

“Your dog might be perfectly fabulous with men with hats, and then at 6 months old he says no, they’re frightening,” Radosta says. “You have to work through it.”

Trainers also want you to know that dogs go through a stage much like human adolescence.

“It’s a stage when a lot of relationships with dogs break down,” says Patricia McConnell, a trainer and certified applied animal behaviourist. “And it’s understandable your puppy sat whenever you asked for four months, and now he looks at you like he’s never heard that word before.”

When a dog will go through this stage differs by breed and individual, but it’s less upsetting if you understand that it’s a normal part of maturation.

“Dogs seem to go through a period between usually 6 to 10 or 11 months in which a lot of their impulse control falls apart, a lot of their training falls apart, a lot of their interest in paying attention to you and doing what you ask falls apart,” says McConnell.

Sound familiar?

Take a deep breath, take a couple steps backs in your training and help them do it right. And remember, this stage will pass.

Dogs become socially mature between 1 and 3 years. “Think of that as age 13 to maybe 21, 22, 23 the age when parents say that their kids are normal again,” says Radosta. “Then from 3 to about 10, you’re cruising.”

At the other end of the lifespan, we see why the seven-year rule seemed to make sense. “People think, my dad lived to 70. Seventy is a decent lifespan for a human, 10 is decent for a lot of dogs,” says Becker.

But dogs of different sizes tend to have different lifespans and age at different rates; it’s important to know when to start looking out for the problems of old age.

“With giant-breed dogs, we have to consider them senior citizens after the age of 5,” says Becker. “With a Lab it might be 7, with a small-breed dog it might be age 9.”

Older dogs’ issues will sound familiar: Joint problems are common, as is putting on weight as the metabolism slows down. Becker says many other problems are associated with obesity heart, respiratory, even skin problems, and an increased risk of cancer so keeping weight down is important in your dog’s golden years.

“If you keep your pets leaner close to what they weighed at a year of age they’re going to live longer and be healthier,” says Becker.

Dogs can also suffer from dementia, which veterinarians call Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. There’s no specific medical test, but you may see<sp

Just Posted

Teck donates $290,000 to Kootenay Boundary hospital

Foundation made announcement on Friday, which was KBRH Pledge Day

Advent celebrated in Trail

Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year

Big crowd when Santa came to town

Streets were lined in downtown Trail for Santa’s Candy Parade

Pend d’Oreille, what does it mean?

In Canada, it’s Pend d’Oreille or Pend-d’Oreille. In the US it’s Pend Oreille. But what does it mean?

Wanted man captured by Trail RCMP

Ishmani Baker was arrested at a rural property on Columbia Gardens Road

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

Most Read