It’s been almost a year since Garrett and I adopted Maisie. In that time I don’t even want to know how much we’ve spent on our baby girl. As a Saint Bernard she goes through a lot of food, a lot of chews, and has knack for destroying toys.
With that said, we’ve learned a lot about what pet items stand the test of time and which ones…don’t. We’ve made our mistakes with pet beds that don’t have washable covers. (Don’t make this mistake, it will smell foul in no time!) We also learned to not buy dog toys made for the daintiest of breeds that she destroys in two minutes flat.
With the holiday season coming up I figured I could share a little bit about the purchases that we’ve considered “worth it.”
So without further ado, here are our big, slobbery dog approved practical dog purchases.
The best practical gifts for your dog
This post contains affiliate links.
A Raised Dog Bed
I didn’t realize how much I would love having a raised dog bed. Dog trainers recommend using them and giving your dog the “place” command. We keep Maisie’s outdoors most of the time now that it’s getting chillier (she looooooves staying outside in the cold) so if I’m going back and forth taking trash out I’ll have her lay down and stay on her bed so she doesn’t try to follow me out of the gate.
Beyond being a good training tool, it gives her a nice place to lounge if she gets worn out. She also has a dog house, but only goes there if it’s freeeeeezing cold (she also has the option of coming in the house, but Saints love the cold.) We create positive associations with the bed by giving her treats as an incentive for laying on the bed.
This is the bed we have, here is another bougier option, too.
A Wobble Feeder
Eating too quickly can actually be dangerous for your dog. This is doubly true if you have a larger breed who is more prone to bloat. If your pup is anything like ours, your average puzzle feeder won’t slow them down enough to be effective. On a whim I ordered a wobble feeder and it’s a great solution..
Wobble feeder are perfect for mentally stimulating your pup and helping them feel like they’re “earning” their food. Believe it or not, dogs actually get satisfaction from “working” for their food. You can also train your dog for food and have them do commands in exchange for kibble.
We use this wobble feeder. Word of warning: it’s a bit too big to get a good grip on, so make sure not to close it too tightly.
A Bark Box Subscription
I’m going to be honest: on a whole, I’m not a big fan of most subscription box services. I’ve bought them for myself, I’ve gifted them for others, I don’t dig them. But like every good rule, there’s always an exception and in this case it’s Maisie’s Bark Box Subscription.
Overall, she’s pretty gentle with her toys, but they definitely go through some wear and tear. Toys tend to only last for so long (especially because she loooooves taking her toys outside.) Barkbox sends her 3 new toys, two bags of treats, and a chew every month. The treats last us for the entire month (we limit them, we want to keep her trim and fit!) and by the time the toys begin to look rough, she has shiny new ones to cycle in.
I have an affiliate link for BarkBox, if I refer customers I can earn free boxes. If you’re more comfortable, though, you can go to BarkBox.com and join directly.
A Jolly Ball
Technically Jolly Balls were made for horses originally, but giant breed owners have realized the potential for dogs and we are obsessed. Maisie’s favorite toy has always been a crusty, popped basketball that was in our backyard when we bought the house. She liked to play tug with it, play fetch with it, and just zoomie around the yard with it in her mouth.
For her birthday we got her a Jolly Ball and it’s taken over as her #1 toy. They are great for dogs who like to fetch because there is a handle so you can throw it further, and the handle also helps with playing tug. If your dog is a bit smaller, this isn’t a great option. I’d say your dog needs to be at least 50 pounds but probably closer to 75 to get a good grip on the ball.
A Solid Tug Toy
Maisie’s favorite game is tug, and it’s also one I love because it helps her build muscle that will protect her joints as she gets older. Maisie will play tug with just about anything, and I’ve gotten accidentally bitten more than once when she tried to get a better grip on her tug toy of choice.
Finally enough was enough and we bought a dedicated tug rope and it’s been a game changer. It’s longer to protect our hands, thicker so Maisie can grip it better, and there’s a good amount of weight to it which I like for when she’s carrying it around. This is the exact rope we got her, but any thick and durable rope will do.
This is very similar to the one we bought Maisie, just a different color.
A Well Fitting Dog Harness
There is a lot of controversy in the dog training world whether harnesses or collars are better for a puppy. I’m 100% in the harness camp, but that’s definitely a personal decision for you. If you’re on team harness, though, make sure the one your pup is in fits well.
When Maisie was still growing quickly we bought her a cheap harness that basically consisted of a thin strap up her chest that connected to one around her middle. This was a fine temporary solution, but if she pulled, all of the pressure was focused in a very small area. Now she has a sturdier, better fitting harness that is a lot more comfortable for her.
This is the harness we have for Maisie. It still fits her now at 115 pounds with room to grow, but the sizes go down to teeny tiny. Plus, we got this harness through Maisie’s first ever pup “influencer” campaign.
Dog training is one of the best gifts we could have ever gotten Maisie. No dog wants to be naughty, but oftentimes they just don’t know how to be good. Training taught us how to effectively communicate with Maisie, which strengthens our relationship and eliminates frustration on all ends.
No matter how old your dog is, if you’ve never tried doggy classes I highly recommend giving it a go. Maisie passed puppy kindergarten by the skin of her ornery teeth, and the 10 weeks of classes that led up to that built the foundation of the wonderful dog we have now.
A Vehicle Seat Cover & Seatbelt
This one is less of a “gift” and more of a practical and safe way you can take your dog to fun places. Before we bought Maisie home, we bought a seat cover for Garrett’s backseat. This keeps any mud from paws, drippy drool, or accidents away from the car interior.
With this we also bought a doggy seat belt. It hooks to her collar or harness and then buckles directly into the seat. God forbid we ever get in an accident, this will keep Maisie safe.
I don’t have a specific link for you, definitely search for your specific make and model when buying a seat cover. I bought a “one size fits all” for my vehicle and that definitely wasn’t true. Garrett got lucky and his fits his truck a lot better.
Recently we learned that the bones they sell at the pet store are inferior to the bones available from our local meat market. Our meat market sells an array of fresh bones designated for dog that are still intact with the marrow and much softer than the bones available in pet stores. They don’t last as long, but they wear less on your pup’s teeth and have more nutritional value.
What’s the best gift you’ve given your dog?
Maisie is getting another Jolly Ball (the apple scented one!) and a few snackies for Christmas, but I’d like to find her one more thing! If you’ve ever given your dog a perfect gift let me know in the comments!