A book to read as a prerequisite to owning and/or caring for a dog is The Forever Dog. Your dogs will thank you and you days and experiences with each other will be loving, healthy-filled and vibrant.
I recently read The Forever Dog: Surprising new science to help your canine companion live younger, healthier and longer by Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Shaw Becker that was released last October (2021), and found a resource I will be returning to again and again. From underscoring that “diets are the cornerstones of disease and, conversely, health” and sharing oodles of details about the fresh food ingredients that benefit the health of our dog and how to incorporate them and why we need to step away from both processed and ultra processed foods for our dog’s health, they also cover all aspects of a dog’s life and experiences and where we can improve.
- the importance of regular exercise
“Daily movement therapy [i.e. daily exercise] helps dogs feel calmer, reduces restlessness, improves sleep, and can enhance how dogs interact with one another.”
“Exercise is the closest thing to a wonder drug.”
- the type of owner and caretaker you need to be to build trust with your dog and how to do it
“Create a partnership, not a dictatorship [with your dog]. . . Affording dogs a measure of control over what happens to them, where they want to go, and what they want to do is more important than we think. The truth is, many dogs never have a say in how their life goes. Giving dogs more choice in all realms of life is a gift; in giving them agency, we respect their need to participate activity in their own well-being (and ours!), which in turns improves their confidence, quality of life, and, ultimately, appreciation and trust in us.”
“You are [their] trainer by default, and good dog training is nothing more than growing two critical elements: your dog’s self-confidence and her trust in you. You can accomplish both goals simultaneously by approaching every interaction with your dog believing she will always do the best she can with the education you’ve given her. Dogs never want to let us down.”
- Understanding why we have been wrong about what we feed our dogs due to historical shifts in culture, marketing and monetary goals and constraints
“The combination of feeding your dog the right nutrients in the right amount at the right time is the magical trifecta of biological wins.”
“Every bite of fresh, living food that replaces a bite of ‘fast food’ (i.e. highly processed pet food) means you are taking a step in the right direction to slow aging.”
“Contrary to popular wisdom, a dog’s carbohydrate requirement is zero.”
- awareness of what we expose our dog too and how these experiences, especially when they are young leave a lasting impression affecting their confidence, behavior and stress levels for the rest of their lives.
“Exposures and experiences (good and bad) especially prior to four months of age can profoundly affect your dog’s behavior and personality for the rest of her life.”
“Learning how to appropriately manage your dog’s stress responses is one of the best assets in your relationship toolbox and a lifetime gift to our dogs.”
These are just a small sampling of what you will discover when you read this book. From oral health, a example detailed daily routine of how to live and bond and build a healthy life for your dog, the history of the companionship of canines and humans, along with an abundance of science and anecdotes to demonstrate our dogs can live much longer and healthier than we have long thought. It is us, the humans who need to change our way of thinking and thereby way of caring for our dogs. I for one am all about making this change, and have already begun improving Norman’s daily meals along with any other area I took note I could improve as I read through the book.
Explore the book here: