The Gift Guide for Dogs: and dog owners

Have someone that’s impossible to buy for? Here’s a trick. Buy their dog a gift instead.

Dear family. This year I’m buying your dogs presents instead of you. It’s not that I don’t like you – it’s just that I like your dog more.

Also, I think buying your dog a gift will be easier than buying you a gift because you have a reputation for being difficult to please.

Your dog on the other hand pees with glee every single time it realizes I exist.

Also, I’m on a bit of a dog kick. It’s because I am a dog owner now. Although I only have 2 months experience at this particular job I can tell you the pay is terrible.

I have received precisely 3 dog kisses in exchange for $5,475,322 worth of purchased dog stuff.

When I was a kid dogs were dogs. They wore a collar made out of a piece of oily rope you found under the lawnmower in the garage. If we went somewhere with our dog, we threw him into the back of the station wagon where he rattled back and forth until we got to where we were going.

Which was always the beer store.

Or as I thought of it, the booster seat store. Home we’d go, me sitting on a case of 24 and the dog hanging 7/8ths of her body out the back window.

My dog? My dog wears a leather and rhinestone collar and travels wearing a crash tested seatbelt harness in the car.

It isn’t about spoiling a dog with random crap – it’s about enriching their lives so that they’re happier. This in turn makes you happier because your dog is easier to live with.

These are just SOME of the other things I’ve bought for my dog Philip’s safety, health and happiness based on the principles of canine enrichment.

Canine enrichment revolves around the scientifically proven fact that dogs are happier, less destructive, and easier to train if their lives are enriched in a variety of ways. You can read about the 5 forms of canine enrichment in this Purdue University study.

All of these gift ideas are recommended based on my actual experience with them.

Gift Ideas For Dogs 2021

Easy Walk Harness

We started walking on a leash when he was 8 weeks old using just a his collar and a leash. As he got older and more – independant minded – I moved to a gentle leader. Gentle leaders are a great option but this Easy Walk Harness is even better.

It gently guides them into place, dogs magically just don’t pull when they’re in it and it doesn’t put any pressure on their necks or throat at all.

So if you have someone you know who has a dog that pulls on the leash this harness is a GREAT gift idea for their dog. It goes over their shoulders, around their belly and in front of their chest.

Cooling Mat

I had dreams of owning a dog that curled up in front of the fire looking picture perfect. Philip hates the fire. He searches out the coolest area on any floor and plops down there. Once that area warms up, he moves again.

While I was searching online poodle forums I came across the cooling mat. It’s just a gel filled mat. The gel absorbs heat from the dog and continues to do so for 3 hours. 15 minutes without anything on it and it automatically “recharges” itself and is cool again.

Nail Trimmers

If I took a Dremel to Philip’s feet he’d spin out. So I choose to use classic nail trimmers on him. These ones have a little piece of metal at the back that stops the nail from being trimmed too much.

Treat Puzzle

Philip LOVES this. There are many, MANY different treat puzzles you can get for dogs ranging from easy to expert.

This one is a middle of the road treat puzzle. You fill it with treats, put it in front of the dog and spend the next 10 minutes watching them flip, slide and tear apart the pieces to get to the treats.

Treat puzzles force a dog to forage for their food. Which they love because it comes naturally to them. A dog likes to search and hunt for his food. Feeding them with things like treat puzzles and snuffle blankets will enrich the dog’s life and make them happier and less prone to destructive behaviour.

Soft Crate

Every time I take Lip to the vet for his shots, she remarks on what a good “grower” he is. Then she stares at me as if to see if I understand.

You mean he’s going to be big?

Yes. She says.

I know. He’s a standard poodle I say.

Yes. She says. He’s going to be – abnormally large.

That means needing abnormally large crates. I am crate training Philip until he can be left in the house without destroying anything. I hope after a year I won’t need the crates. But until then I need 2 crates. 1 for upstairs and 1 for downstairs.

I also wanted to be able to bring his crate to the garden which would be a huge hassle with a wire crate.

These soft crates weigh absolutely nothing and they work kind of like pop up tents. When you want to take it with you, you just push it down, it folds into itself and then fits into a small carrying sleeve.


Perfect for anyone that takes their dog anywhere or wants to be able to more a crate around easily.

Pet Hemostat (ear hair puller thingees)

Some (not all) dogs need the hair in their ears pulled. Like an old man.

Groomers will do this, but if groomers are closed (like they were during the pandemic) you need to do it for your dog to help prevent ear infections and so they can hear better.

Ear powder

If you’re going to give ear hair pullers you also need to give ear powder. You just shake it into the ear and it makes the hairs a bit sticky so the hemostat can easily grab them without the hair sliding out.


How Stella Learned to Talk

There’s a dog on Instagram called Bunny. She has a vocabulary of around 80 words that she can communicate by hitting recorded word buttons.

The pioneer of this was Christina Hunger and her dog Stella. One of the first things I bought for my dog was her book “How Stella Learned to Talk.”

Training Talking Buttons

Anddddd if you’re going to give the book you should also give a few buttons. I bought the official “Stella” buttons off of Amazon but I hate to say the quality of the audio is terrible. So I’ve linked to OTHER buttons I found on Amazon that have reviews reporting great audio quality.

How they work is you record your voice saying a word with the button. Then when your dog touches the button with their paw or nose the word plays back.

I’m only working with 2 buttons right now. One at the door that says “Outside! Outside!” when Lip pushes it. And one beside his food dish that says “Eat!” when he pushes it.

If I haven’t fed him enough Philip will push the Eat button to let me know he’s still hungry. Since Poodles aren’t hugely motivated and won’t gorge themselves on food, if he pushes the Eat button, I know he’s actually hungry.

Treat pouch

My first treat pouch was from the dollar store. A silicone bag that hangs off of your waistband or belt. I’ve since upgraded to a larger treat pouch. This is an even BIGGER upgrade that I’ll be getting once the treat pouch I’m using wears out.

What makes this one attractive is the fact that your hand can slip in and out easily for treats (mine snaps closed.)

Plus this one can go around your waist, over your shoulder or on your belt. It also has pockets, a poop bag dispenser and a little travel dish for water.

Soft training treats

Honestly. If you know someone who is training their puppy they CANNOT have enough training treats. And training treats are a bit different than regular “cookie” treats because training treats are soft.

These are one of several type of soft treats I use. I break them in half for training. Crunchy treats take longer for a dog to eat so it slows down their training. Soft treats are better.

Snuffle Mat

Snuffle mats are used in canine enrichment for feeding dogs. Like the puzzle, this gives them a way to forage for their food but you can feed their ENTIRE meal in the snuffle mat. It slows down their eating for any dogs that gorge themselves, plus it makes eating way more fun for them.

This is just one example of a snuffle mat that I picked because I like the look of it based on the fact that it has neither a big stupid bone or dog’s head on it, and it isn’t out of primary colours. Dog toys are about as ugly as kids toys for the most part.

You distribute your dogs food over the mat, and it gets hidden in the folds. Your dog then sniffs and snuffles the food out.

Luxury Dog Collars

I happened upon this brand when I was stalking poodles on Instagram last year. A dog in Australia was wearing a Hartman & Rose collar. I looked into the company and discovered they were from Canada! I looked into them further and discovered they were located a mere 15 minutes from my house.

So when my sister helped me for a week straight installing floors and painting walls in my new rental house I bought her Cocker Spaniel, Charlie, the collar and leash I thought suited them both the most. It is gold leather covered in Art Deco rhinestones.

Personally I’d love the horse’s bit collar in either turquoise or black once Philip is full sized.

Even though I’m sure I have a perfectly good piece of oily rope somewhere on the floor of my shed.

The Gift Guide for Dogs: and dog owners


  1. Sarah says:

    As the owner of a black standard poodle (career changed from Dog Guides of Canada) and a foster mother of a white poodle pup (still in the service dog program – fingers crossed), I am happily following your adventures with Lip. I wait with bated breath to read your post on how to groom a poodle — we still haven’t done that successfully yet. Ugh! Also, instead of dragging a puppy crate around outside, take a look at x-pens. Much more flexible and versatile outdoors. If you ever need a puppy sitter for Lip, he can come hang with our poodles. :)

  2. Jeffrey Gray says:

    Extremely useful dog products as mentioned above. We can use the dog mat as mentioned above as it will make the flooring a lot more comfortable. The article also explains the different nails trimmers and Soft Crate. All the products mentioned above are best for dogs. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

  3. holagranola says:

    very enlightening post! i’m babysitting a friend’s senior cat for a few months. would you do a gift guide for cats too?

    • Kat - the other 1 says:

      Cardboard box. Done. *mic drop*
      lol. ;)

      Paper bags, some wasted up for crinkle balls, others with a toy mouse or feather type toy inside.

      Some cats / ferrets will sit/ lie on, or dance on a plastic bag while you pull them around the floor.

      Scratching materials. A bunch of torn / cut cardboard glued together or some twine like rope glued (hot glue) to a stick / board or something.

      Cats are pretty easy. They want whatever you bought them was wrapped in. lol!

      • Also Kat (Really) says:

        This is true. My cat plays almost exclusively with garbage. His favorite object in the whole world is two old shoelaces we tied together.

      • Kat - the other 1 says:

        Come to think of it, the current cats favorite toy (besides his first, a stuffed fish on a stick) was a wadded up ball of his own fur, lol!

      • holagranola says:

        hahaha so true

  4. Teresa says:

    Oh, and it’s never too early to Phillip used to wearing things so he is not freaked out by his matching Halloween costume. 🤣

  5. Teresa says:

    I’m looking forward to the homemade dog treat recipes… Because. Dogs.

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