Looking for some useful and practical dog or dog owner gift ideas? Dog-lover and outdoorsman Jim Mize shares his favorite accessories for the family dog with an active outdoor lifestyle.
Dogs enrich our lives. Our pups hunt with us, provide companionship, offer early warning systems for visitors (both welcome and unwelcome) and entertain us in many ways.
In rural areas, dogs are such common residents you might wonder if they came with the house.
As the holidays approach, I'm reminded of how pups can benefit from the useful accessories we use to train and care for them.
Over the years, I’ve collected my own favorites from trial and error. Sharing them here, I thought I might help you skip the error part.
As a disclaimer, I will add that dog owners with specific training in mind will want specialized accessories suited to that training, whether for field trials, hunting or other activities.
This gift list is for the owner with a family dog and an active lifestyle.
Let me begin by introducing Moose (pictured below) and our daily routine.
Moose, a four-year-old Lab, weighs in at seventy-five pounds and has plenty of energy.
We walk daily and have short training sessions when I break from my schedule. On occasion, we take short trips. So the accessories I use most are for those activities.
Dog Gift Idea #1: Crates
One of the training manuals I use is Sporting Dog and Retriever Training - - The Wildrose Way by Mike Stewart. It’s a good book for retriever training and a number of his recommended accessories I’ve found helpful.
In his book, Stewart talks about the usefulness of crates.
A crate can be more than a portable dog house. It works well for travel, for housing at night when you don’t want your dog rambling where it shouldn’t and it’s a cave-like refuge for the pup when you first bring it home.
The attributes suggested in Mike’s book are that the crate should be “the plastic shipping type with mostly solid sides and nothing that is chewable.” Also, he suggests that it should be easy to clean with no mat or blanket inside that the pup may ingest.
From a size standpoint, I also like one tall enough that allow the dog to stand.
Just by luck, mine also happened to fit in the back seat of my truck, so in inclement weather, the dog can travel inside with me. Otherwise, I can strap the crate to the back of the truck.
Dog Gift Idea #2: Cots
Mike Stewart also describes place training in his book. This is simply associating a spot with the command “place,” so the dog goes there on command. Moose’s place is his cot.
Early on, I tried doing this with a bed, and it worked fine, but Moose was a chewer. He picked at the seams and soon had fluff everywhere. With the cots, he seems not to have that urge.
Also, cots are portable, easy to clean, and with the air clearance underneath, they are cool in summer. I keep one inside and one on the porch. Mine are from K&H and can be found on Amazon.
Dog Gift Idea #3: Collars
One important feature of a collar is identification. I’ve found that tags sometimes come off, so I got Moose’s collar personalized with his name and my phone number.
Since Moose doesn’t show up well at night, I got his in blaze orange from Orvis.
Sooner or later, I know my phone will ring.
Dog Gift Idea #4: Leashes
For a big dog, I like to use a slip lead. This is basically a rope that goes through a ring and tightens when pulled.
In his book, Mike Stewart notes that these are not designed to choke but to pressure the dog at specific points to get the appropriate reaction.
With Moose and his energy level, I want a stout slip lead and as much reaction as I can get. I found my slip lead at Cabela's.
Dog Gift Idea #5: Food and Water Accessories
I have found for unsupervised feeding, a heavy bowl and water dispenser work best.
In Moose’s case, I went with the heaviest ceramic food bowl I could find and a multiday water dispenser that I attached to his pen. Otherwise, he would play with them and make a mess. Trust me on this one.
For indoors and supervised feeding, I have light stainless steel bowls that become his accessories for travel. They clean up easily and nest to pack.
Gift Idea #6: Travel packs
Moose has his own daypack for trips, and sometimes I feel like I’m packing to ship him off to school.
Besides the feeding bowls, I include his leash, food, water and compostable waste bags for when I need to pick up after him. The first aid kit stays in my truck, so I don’t have to pack it.
All in all, it’s a simple list of accessories that allow me to include Moose in my activities.
With a different dog and lifestyle, you may find dogs and their owners have different needs. But so far, with these accessories, Moose hasn’t complained. He’s good that way.