I have been a pup parent for the last 13 years and a professional dog trainer for the past ten years. Over those years I’ve come across things that I use time after time for practical or entertainment purposes. I recommend these things to clients and friends and consider them the best investments when bringing a dog into your life.
If you have a dog or are considering getting a dog, you can’t miss with any of these things:
The Ex Pen – It’s kind of like a metal play pen for dogs. Chew and pee proof. I bought mine when my dog was very young to aid in potty training. It can be made as large or small as you need it – and has been a wonderful tool throughout her 13 years. It’s helpful to confine a young, spunky pup; can be used to block off doorways; to confine or separate dogs/cats; or simply to be able to leave doors open in the summer without losing your pooch. Depending on how large you go they can be pricey but it is useful throughout their entire lives.
A Buster cube – If you haven’t tried an interactive feeder, you need to go out and get one immediately! This little cube is my favorite. You can fill it up with Fluffy’s dinner and watch the fun! At first your dog rolls it around and the food comes out very fast, but then it takes more time and effort. If your dog eats his meals in two seconds flat, this will take him far longer and will require thought and exercise. It’s a win-win for everyone. The Buster can be a bit noisy, so if you have an easily spooked pet, or are noise sensitive, you can try a Tricky Treat ball or a Kong.
A Dog Seat Belt – I wince every time I see a dog loose in a car or riding on mom’s lap in traffic. Not only is that a huge distraction for mom, but it’s dangerous for your pooch. If you were to have a wreck, two things could happen: 1) the airbag could crush your dog; or 2) the dog could fly through the windshield. Dogs should ALWAYS be restrained in the car – away from an active airbag. I tried many types of seatbelts, but I like the type that hooks right into your existing belt clasp on one end and hooks to a harness on the other.
”The halter places control of your dog around his center of gravity rather than his head or neck. This method moves the training cues from the head and neck to the dog’s body. This utilizes a dog’s instinctive push/pull reflex called the opposition reflex — a dog’s natural inclination is to move toward pressure. However, by attaching your leash to the chest ring, the pressure you apply is directed to the opposite side of their body by the girth strap. Your dog’s leash now allows you to persuasively guide your dog in the direction you want him to move.
The Squeaky Tennis Ball – A must have for every dog owner. We all search for that indestructible dog toy that doesn’t exist and put up with mountains of fluff from all the toys that our pooches destroy, when all they really want is that satisfying squeak. It’s cheap, tough and oh so satisfying for a dog. Sure, I still buy stuffies on occasion, but nothing has lasted like her collection of tennis balls.
Large Plastic Ball – I’m not sure if this one is just my dog or if they all love these, but you know the big cages they set up this time of year at the grocery store full of colorful balls? They cost maybe a $1.29? Lola has owned maybe 12 of them in her 13 years. These balls have given her more joy than any other toy. She growls, chases and bats it to me like a seal. Here is a Boston Terrier doing the same. Invest in one -or five- you won’t regret it!
What are your dog’s favorite things?
[Melissa Grant is a North Bend resident and professional dog trainer at Le Chic Pet. She writes a monthly pet column so check back often]