I have a dog that is 16 years old, and that is in human years, here’s how I’ve gotten him to live so darn long, and still act as lively as a puppy!
1.)Show your dog lots of love and affection, and while he’s small enough as a puppy, pick him up and carry him often. This is what his mother would do, and this shows him that you are the leader of the pack and you’re in charge. This in turn will make him feel more secure and at ease. An at ease dog isn’t stressed, and therefore, it is good for his heart!
2.)Do everything with him! Even if it is just walking out to the mailbox. Your dog desires to spend every waking moment with you. Why not let him be involved with everyday tasks to make him feel important? My dog loves to help out in the garden. He actually stands there with me in the garden and helps me pull out weeds. It’s so cute! And after a hard day’s work, when you’re enjoying that tall glass of lemonade, drop some ice cubes in his water to make it extra cold. He’ll appreciate that.
3.)Keep your dog nice and clean. This also makes him feel cared for. In the wild, when one animal grooms another animal, it’s a sign of acceptance and love. He might resist at first, but he will get used to it. Give him a nice bubble bath, and tell him he’s a good boy for letting you wash him. After you’re done washing him, don’t be afraid to put a little dog cologne on him, and then dry him with a hair dryer. He will feel like hot stuff after that!
4.)Give him his medications every month. This includes heartworm medication and any flea and tick treatments. I cannot stress this enough! The heartworm medication keeps those bad ol’ worms from invading his heart and multiplying to the point where it can’t pump blood because the worms are clogging up his heart. The flea and tick treatments keep these parasites from biting your dog, and spreading diseases like lyme disease which can be fatal. And remember…only use the recommended dosage prescribed by your veterinarian for your dog’s weight. If the dosage is too low, the treatments may not work. If the dosage is too high, it can poison your dog.
5.)Feed him a mixture of dry dog food and canned dog food. This can keep your dog’s system operating smoothly. The dry dog food has lots of fiber in it, and it helps your dog to have regular, solid bowel movements. The canned dog food will add moisture to his bowel movements, and allow them to be soft but solid. Yeah, it sounds gross, but it works!
6.)Give him a nice comfy bed of his own. Just because he’s a dog, doesn’t mean he has to sleep on the hard floor! His joints work just like yours. Imagine how you would feel if you had to sleep on a hard floor. Your joints would be extremely achy after a few nights. I recommend getting him a memory foam pet bed. Yes they are a little bit more expensive, but they will do wonders for your dog’s joints, especially if he is older.
7.)Take him around other people and animals very often. When your dog is exposed to many other people, he will get the notion that people are good, and therefore this will reduce the risk of him biting someone out of fear. Instead he will be very happy and excited when guests come to visit your home, and not shy and fearful. Another thing is allowing him to experience different animals. Of course, take him around other dogs, and let him be a dog. Also allow him, if possible to be around other species like cats and rabbits, but under close supervision. Some dogs at first will want to follow their predatory instinct, and try to harm these particular animals, but with careful supervision and training, this instinct will be curbed.
8.)Get your dog fixed if you are not going to breed him. The optimal time to have this done is around 6 months of age. That way the hormones won’t set in, and he won’t go looking for females and trying to mount everything. It keeps your dog safe because he won’t be on the hunt for females, and this is how many dogs get loose and get hit by cars, or get injured in other ways. Fixing your dog also keeps him from having health problems later on in life. One problem that I know can happen is that crystals can form in his urine and thus making it difficult and painful for him to urinate, and we don’t want that!
9.)Give your dog body massages! We all need them at some point because our muscles get tense. The same thing is true for your dog. Your dog will absolutely love this. When you do this, remember to have a calm mind, as your dog will be able to sense this, and enjoy the massage even more. Start at the base of the ears and work your way to the tips. But make sure not to rub the ears too hard. Next, work your way to the back of the neck, then to the shoulders and down his sides. Use the knuckles of your index and middle finger and gently massage down his spine. If your dog has an upset tummy, gently rub his belly in a clock-wise motion. This helps the food to stay down, and go in the right direction, if you know what I mean.
10.)On occasion, give him a little bit of forbidden food. Yes I know, I know, this goes against every rule of good dog ownership. But there is a smart way to do it. There are certain items you should avoid giving him, like chocolate, cheese…any dairy for that matter, fruit…as it will ferment and turn to wine in their bellies, bones…these can break apart and rupture something in his system, and anything high in salt and fat. Like a little piece of turkey breast at thanksgiving or a little piece of an oatmeal cookie. Make sure if it’s a piece of meat, that it’s not greasy. Basically, if it’s bad for you, then it’s probably bad for him too.
11.)Last but not least, talk to your dog. He loves the sound of your voice, and he listens. He may not know the meaning of the words you are saying, but he likes the fact that you are talking. In addition to just carrying on a one-sided conversation with your dog, you may also try reading to him as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and it makes him feel comfy. So go ahead, read him a bedtime story!
I’ve done these steps with my dog, and he is still kicking and frolicking like a puppy at 16 years of age!