Are 'Dog Years' a Real Thing?

iStock
iStock

Ask a dog owner how old their pet is and they might give you two numbers—Fluffy's "true" age and her age in "dog years." The common way of thinking goes that because the life expectancy of an average-sized, medium dog is about one-seventh that of a human, one human year is equivalent to about seven years for dogs. By this measure, a 2-year-old dog is actually 14, a 7-year-old dog is 49, and so on.

If this rule seems to simple to be true, that's because it is. The reality is there's no easy trick that churns out the human-age equivalent for all dogs. Thinking about your dog's age in human terms is not only inaccurate, it can also be dangerous when it prevents you from getting them the care they need based on which life stage they're at.

According to Jesse Grady, clinical instructor of veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University, the best way to describe a dog's age is to sort it into a category. The chart below takes data from the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Life Stages Guidelines [PDF], and it's what veterinarians today use to treat their patients. This list divides a dog's lifespan into six stages: puppy, junior, adult, mature, senior, and geriatric. And rate of maturation looks a lot different in dogs than it does in people. It takes a less than a year for a dog to reach the adult stage, and after that it takes nearly six years for it to move on to the mature stage of its life.

Even though the numbers above are more accurate than the seven-year rule, they still don't apply to every dog. This chart was made with medium-sized dogs in mind. The average life expectancy for a dog that size is 10 to 13 years. Small dogs tend live longer, about 10 to 15 years on average, with some breeds reaching up to age 18. A dog's health, weight, and breed are all factors that contribute to its individual life expectancy.

These guidelines aren't too helpful if you're the type of pet owner who needs to know when exactly your dog is entering its teen years, turning 21, or reaching doggy retirement age. For a rough equivalent of your dog's age in human years, check out the chart below, which breaks down "dog years" by size.

[h/t Science Alert]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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The Reason Your Dog Follows You Everywhere

Crew, Unsplash
Crew, Unsplash

Depending on your mood, a dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying or adorable. The behavior is also confusing if you're not an expert on pet behavior. So what is it about the canine companions in our lives that makes them stick by our sides at all times?

Most experts agree on a few different reasons why some dogs are clingy around their owners. One is their pack mentality. Dogs may have been domesticated thousands of years ago, but they still consider themselves to be part of a group like their wild ancestors. When there are no other dogs around, their human family becomes their pack. According to Reader's Digest, this genetic instinct is also what motivates dogs to watch you closely and seek out your physical touch.

The second reason for the behavior has to do with the bond between you and your pet. As veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack told the American Kennel Club, puppies as old as 6 months can imprint on their human owners like they would their own mothers. Even older dogs will bond with the humans in their lives who show them care and affection. In these cases, a dog will shadow its owner because it sees them as an object of trust and security.

The last possible explanation for why your dog follows you has more to do with your treatment of them than their natural instincts. A popular training tactic is positive reinforcement—i.e. rewarding a dog with treats, pets, and praise when they perform positive behaviors. The point is to help your dog associate good behaviors with rewards, but after a while, they may start to associate your presence with rewards as well. That means if your dog is following you, they may be looking for treats or attention.

A clingy dog may be annoying, but it usually isn't a sign of a larger problem. If anything, it means your dog sees you in a positive light. So enjoy the extra companionship, and don't be afraid to close the door behind when you need some alone time.