In the United States, the number of homes that own dogs is growing. According to the American Pet Products Association, over 45 million U.S. homes own at least one dog. This equates to roughly 77 million dogs living in our homes with us!
As this growth has happened, the industry that provides dog owners with products to help care for them has grown too. There are entire Wal-Mart-sized stores dedicated strictly to selling pet products now, and for good reason; last year, Americans spent an estimated 45 billion dollars on pet care and supplies.
So, it’s needless to say that taking a walk around one of these big stores can be overwhelming, especially for a new dog owner. I am going to share about some of our favorite and most useful dog products in hopes that the information will come in handy for some of you.
Starmark toys – I am sure I am slightly biased about these toys, as I know the people who designed and created them. But that is all the more reason to believe me when I tell you how fabulous they are!
Many of the Starmark toys are what is referred to as interactive – meaning they are designed to keep your dog occupied for an extended amount of time and in turn help prevent boredom or anxiety-related behaviors. This is usually achieved by putting some sort of treats or food inside of a toy and then letting your dog figure out how to remove them. Many Starmark products come with an ‘Everlasting treat’ already fixed in the toy, but once your dog has removed that successfully you can opt to buy a re-filler or simply opt to put a different sort of reward inside of it. And, for those of you with dogs like mine that like to destroy their toys, know that these are very durable and puncture resistant!
A turn-off to some dog owners is the price of Starmark – they run more expensive than your average dog toy. But I would much rather spend money up front for something my dog will enjoy that lasts than buy cheap products that are destroyed within minutes (and trust me, it has happened).
Canyon Creek Meat Blasts – If you need another chewing outlet for your dog, this product provides just that. They are made out of chicken liver wrapped in pork skin, therefore being gentler on the stomach than a rawhide. Another plus is they seem to unravel as they are chewed, so choking is much less of a hazard than it is on a bone that comes apart in chunks. Plus, they are very affordable! Tory has found them in a package of ten for $6.00. Her smaller dogs work on one Meat Blast for upwards of 40 minutes – but keep in mind that a larger dog may devour one much more quickly.
Charlee Bear treats – For a trainer like myself, or for anyone working on new behaviors with their dog, a healthy, convenient food reward is essential. I discovered Charlee Bear treats while I was a student at Triple Crown Academy. They are small enough that you don’t have to break them apart for your dog before rewarding. Furthermore, they are only three calories a piece – crucial for the initial stages of training when you are constantly reinforcing desirable behaviors. The only thing that would make these treats better would be if they came in a soft form, so that dogs did not have to chew them even for a moment (which is also helpful while training). Charlee Bear treats come in three flavors – and Gabe has enjoyed every single one.
Furminator – I am a sucker for furry dogs. I am also a sucker for blond dogs. Gabe fits the mold perfectly, but most of the time I end up completely covered in his light-colored hair. Thankfully, a craze called the Furminator hit the nation a few years ago and has provided a very effective way to groom and de-shed your dog from home. It’s borderline insane how much hair this brush helps remove from the undercoat while still leaving the topcoat intact. Probably the only thing I don’t enjoy about it is that it causes fur to become filled with static, and then that hair sticks to everything once it’s removed. But hey, if it’s going to fall out anyway, you might as well get it in one attempt!
Buddy Wash Dog Shampoo and Conditioner by Cloud Star – This is a recommendation from Tory. It is an all-natural product that has never irritated her dogs’ skin in any way while also eliminating any static, dry skin, or leftover residue. She suggests the conditioner as well, even for a short-coated dog. Her favorite feature about this product is how it smells – particularly the Lavender & Mint scent. Its pleasant fragrance lasts for several days after a bath and she could not imagine using a different product to bathe her dogs with!
Kuranda Beds - If you have ever had the 'pleasure' of trying to wash some of the various plush dog beds that exist out there, you've likely realized that: a. they either do not fit well in a washing machine or b. they have a removable cover that is nearly impossible to re-fit to the bed once washed. Kuranda beds are easily washed off with a rag or a hose. Their elevated design provides optimum support for dogs' backs, and they are a lot more difficult for a dog to chew up than a plush bed. Furthermore, if your dog is ever boarded or left outside during the day, this type of bed is excellent to keep your dog warm (or cool) and dry. They're slightly awkward to assemble (although, let's be honest here - when have I ever been good at assembling things?); however, if I can do it, anyone can. Don't let it scare you away from trying one.
I hope this information has been helpful. And, we would love to hear about any other products that you and your dog cannot live without!