By Maureen Patin CPDT-KA , Founder / Head Trainer of What a Great Dog! Training Centers
Don’t you just love that feeling of finding a great product that really works for your life. Here at What a Great Dog! our staff of dog nerds is always looking to optimize our lives with dogs. Here are the favorite products that made our collective short list. Most of these items are available in the WAGD retail shops. For those that aren’t, we’ve noted where you can find them.
Enrichment items were very prominent on our experts’ lists of favorite things. That’s because providing great enrichment for your dogs makes them happy AND easier to live with! You’ll find the following enrichment items are all available at the WAGD shops:
The Toppl toy earned the most praise from WAGD staffers. Nearly everyone polled included the Toppl on their short list of must-have items. This hollow rubber toy is easy to stuff and freeze, creating long lasting mental and physical enrichment. Providing daily enrichment is highly recommended and Toppls should be a part of your enrichment strategy.
Frozen Marrow Bones made the list for several WAGD staffers. Dogs will work (sometimes for hours) to extract every bit of marrow. Brittany Wingfield commented that it isn’t always realistic to have enough frozen Toppls on hand and ready for all the days of the week. Marrow bones are a nice way to fill the gap. Harold Patin likes that they are so easy; just stock them in your freezer and they are ready to pull out and feed.
Bully sticks are often called the perfect “poochie pacifier.” Laura Arasmith Wilson says her dog agrees with that statement. They are his favorite thing in the world. WAGD trainers see many dogs who struggle to be calm in group class make big progress when their owners provide a bully stick for the down times during class.
The Snuffle Mat is a popular enrichment item at WAGD. Kristi Bass points out “It’s so simple, and yet will keep a dog occupied for so long.” The WAGD staffers commented that they like having the Snuffle Mat as part of their rotation of interesting ways to feed meals.
The Twist ‘n Treat gets accolades from multiple staffers. Ryan Lockard likes that the cavities are deep enough to hold a full meal. She finds that when frozen, it takes her dogs about 30 minutes to finish their dinner. Best of all they are mentally tired by the time they finish!
The Licki Mat is Shelby Chattin’s favorite enrichment item. It’s easily used either freshly smeared or frozen. They are versatile, working well during grooming and when learning to settle around guests or in crates. She also likes using them to practice calming down after play, to soothe dogs during stressful times and to redirect them from alerting or reacting.
Kristi Bass loves the Flirt Pole, especially for her young, very energetic Boston Terrier. She likes the fact that they can play together; him at his maniac speed and her at her own slower speed.
The iDig is a new toy that gives dogs an outlet for their instinct to dig. Sharon Lacaze reports that both her dogs are obsessed with their iDig. Kenna Sloan likes that this digging toy provides a totally different category of enrichment for dogs.
The Kong Wobbler rates highly on Rachel Vogt’s must have list. She finds it easy to clean and easy to use.
As a group, the WAGD staffers discussion of favorite things was heavy on enrichment, and for good reason. But, here are a few other items that surfaced as indispensable for day-to-day living with a dog.
Long Lines (specifically a 20 foot biothane) are another indispensable item in the eyes of WAGD staffers. Ashley Johnson pointed out that she likes using the long line for stress free walks when a young dog is still learning to walk nicely on a short leash. Rhea Northcut says that using the 20 foot line with a back attach harness helps keep her dog sane. That combination is a great setup for “decompression walks,” allowing plenty of freedom for sniffing and exploring surroundings. You’ll find biothane long lines at both WAGD shops.
The Dog Gone Smart doormats and runners aren’t available at WAGD, but made the must-have list for both Kristi Bass and Maureen Patin. These super absorbent mats make a big difference in limiting the dirt that gets tracked into the house. Maureen’s trick is to have two at the backdoor, one just inside and one just outside. While dogs wait at the door to be let in, the mat is sucking mud and moisture off their paws. These mats can be found at Hollywood Feed or online.
The Adaptil Travel Spray has a big fan in Samantha Schaefer. She uses it to help her anxious dog settle. She’s sprays it in her travel crate and on a bandanna that her dog wears. She commented that it isn’t a cure-all, but that she sees a noticeable difference in her dog’s comfort level in stressful situations, like visiting the vet or going new places. The Adaptil products are not available at WAGD, but are stocked by many veterinarians and are available online.
Perfect Form food supplement is lovingly called “Puppy Pepto” around WAGD. Ashley Dickerson likes to use it daily with her Australian Shepherd. It’s also great to have on hand for any unexpected digestive issues. Perfect Form is stocked at both WAGD locations.
We’d love to hear from you with your own must have items for your dog life!