By Kim Boatman for The Dog Daily
Santa Paws is making his list. All dogs — naughty and nice — are on it, so it’s time to consider what gifts might be best for both your budget and your furry pal this holiday season.
You won’t find lords-a-leaping or maids-a-milking here. Instead, with assistance from dog trainers and an online doggie boutique owner, we’ve assembled a dozen innovative dog gifts that are likely to be pooch pleasers this holiday season:
1. Tuffy’s Bevo the Bull Here’s a stuffed animal that just might be tough enough for your pup. Outsized at 19 inches long and 12 inches tall, Bevo (about $25) is durable yet soft, says Darcie Krueger, president and owner of online boutique SitStay. Bevo’s construction is designed to hold up to interactive play, with two layers of heavy-duty nylon and a layer of PVC topped with an outer layer of fleece. “This is the longest-lasting line of soft toys we have tested,” says Krueger. Nevertheless, if your dog likes to dissect, shred and eat stuffed toys, you’ll always want to supervise play with a stuffed toy, recommends Daphne Robert-Hamilton, a Morgan Hill, Calif., dog trainer.
2. Greedy Pup’s Eat Slow Bowl Does your pup wolf down his dinner? It’s not a matter of worrying about your dog’s manners. Gulping down food can lead to tummy upset, obesity and a serious condition known as “bloat,” where a dog’s stomach twists, threatening its life. The Eat Slow Bowl (about $29) and similar products are designed to slow your furry friend’s eating. This particular bowl, made of sturdy polypropylene, features molded protrusions that slow access to food without putting a damper on your dog’s dinner enjoyment.
3. LED Lighted Collars Keep your dog safe during early morning and late night walks with an LED (light-emitting diode) collar. Durability is key, so look for well-made products, like the Nite-Dawg line (about $14). Be wary of inexpensive LED collars that won’t hold up to scratching, chewing or water. Money is tight this holiday season, but you’ll spend less in the long run if you select quality items that won’t require a replacement in the near future.
4. Canine Genius’ Leo Toy A chew toy you stuff with a treat rewards your dog for choosing the toy over “all the other items in your home that might seem just as good,” says Stacy Braslau-Schneck, a San Jose, Calif., dog trainer. She recommends the Leo toys (about $12 for small Leos, $18 to $21 for large), which are soft and easy to load. Think of the Leos as Legos for dogs, since you can interconnect several Leos and create different, intriguing shapes for your pup. Braslau-Schneck does note that the toy can be hard to clean. A serious canine chewer might also bite the neck off the vase-shaped toy. Leos, however, offer such effective enrichment that zoos are beginning to use the toys for some of their animals, says Robert-Hamilton.
5. Fetch A Bubble Bubble Machine For sheer goofiness, it’s hard to beat Gazillion’s Fetch a Bubble machines (around $16), with their bacon, peanut butter and chicken-scented bubbles. If any kids are in your house, you might even find that they will enjoy chasing the bubbles as much as your dog will.
6. Big Shrimpy’s Nest Bed Your pooch deserves a comfy bed to call its own, and the Big Shrimpy nest bed (about $100 small, $126 medium, $146 large) offers a substantial feel with its recycled polyester fiber and a durable cover that comes in a dozen colors. You can deconstruct the bed to wash the cover and inner cushion liner at home. You’ll need to wash the SmartFill filler at a commercial laundromat, however. Since the bed ships from the factory, be sure to place your holiday order early.
7. Clean Run’s Training Toys The agility community provides a helpful resource for innovative toys, says Robert-Hamilton. Sites like Clean Run, directed toward owners with dogs that participate in agility competitions, offer items such as tug toys with real animal fur. “They tap into what dogs like,” she says. The bunny jackpot and tug toy (about $19) also has a pouch you can fill with a food reward. Uncomfortable with the real fur aspect of some toys? Try the Toss-N-Treat (about $15), a stuffable flying disc. Want to find other toys off the beaten track? Check out sites oriented toward zoo animal enrichment, Robert-Hamilton advises.
8. Ruff Wear’s Mt. Bachelor Pad If “ruffing” it means your dog accompanies you on outdoor excursions, you’ll want to make sure your pooch has a comfortable place to sleep. The Mt. Bachelor pad (about $55 for medium, approximately $64 for large) rolls up like a sleeping bag, complete with carrying handle. The backing offers a moisture barrier, and the pad includes thermal insulation as well as cozy, warmth-holding fleece.
9. Nina Ottosson’s Interactive Toys These Swedish wooden pet puzzle toys are reminiscent of upscale wooden European kids’ playthings, worthy of a holiday splurge. Does your dog have an adoring human grandmother? An Ottosson puzzle — such as the new Dog Fighter ($47.95), with pegs under which your dog slides to find the treat — is grandma-worthy. Pawlickers offers an assortment of Ottosson puzzles online.
10. KongTime’s Toy Dispenser A dog can get mighty bored sitting home on its own all day. KongTime (about $120) offers a new spin on a familiar toy, using a timer to dispense treat-stuffed Kongs at intervals you determine.
11. Ruff Wear’s Approach Pack KT McKee, a show dog trainer and breeder in British Columbia, makes sure her dogs feel useful by having them carry things in backpacks. You can give your dog a sense of purpose as well, with Ruff Wear’s Approach Pack (about $60-$70). The pack offers an adjustable five-point fit and comes in five different sizes. While this pack is designed for short hikes or everyday use, the company also makes a doggie pack for long backpacking trips.
12. Wubba’s Water Toys If your pooch channels his inner Michael Phelps every time you get near water, you’ll want to stuff a stocking with Wubba’s water toys (about $6). The brightly colored floating toys come in three sizes and feature a rounded top with three long tails.
Before you pull out that adorable doggie wrapping paper, however, please keep a few tips in mind. You should supervise your dog when introducing a new toy, says Robert-Hamilton. Be wary of cheap toys that may contain toxic ingredients and be mindful of choking dangers with small toys and toys that shred easily. It’s also a good idea to avoid toys with flashing lights or lasers, which can lead to obsessive behaviors. But what’s the best gift of all? Time spent with you, of course.