It’s November already!? There is a busy season ahead, and I bet you are wondering, “What gift to get my pet for the holidays?” Did you know, last year Americans spent nearly as much on toys, apparel, and over-the-counter products for their pets as they did on veterinary care? Food is in a category all its own and twice again as much. If this market research describes you, let us help you spend those dollars wisely. (These are not products we sell but are readily available at local/national pet stores and online.)
Accessories For Activity
Let’s consider what dogs might like first, besides food, dog parks and such. A cute outfit may come to mind, but does it spark joy for them or for us? A spiffy new collar or harness and leash ensemble can be exciting - it can lead to more outings - more walks, and what dog doesn’t love sniffing out new terrain? And we get to show off our perfect pet and our fashion sense.
Dogs benefit from toys that keep their minds or bodies active. So if your dog loves a tennis ball, frisbee, Chuck it Ball Launcher or squeaky toy - why not get a new one? For those times you can’t get outdoors to walk or play with your dog there are a lot of toys out there designed to keep your dog occupied mentally and/or physically. Automatic ball launchers allow activity without your involvement. Dog TV may provide interest to your dog’s day.
In people and pets, keeping the brain active helps delay the onset of dementia. Toys can also help keep your dog mentally engaged, less bored, and therefore less anxious or destructive while you’re busy working to afford the lifestyle to which your dog has become accustomed!
Food dispensing toys can keep your dog more physically active as well as engage them mentally. Sniffing for food releases dopamine in dogs which makes them feel more relaxed and happier. Many of the toys also help promote dental health, and we know how important that is to overall health (if you don’t, we will cover that in the near future). There are several different Kong toys which vary in difficulty that dispense kibble or treats. The Kong Wobbler is a favorite with many trainers. There are several Nina Ottosson dog puzzles which your dog must figure out what to uncover or slide to obtain a treat. Her Dog Tornado interactive toy is more difficult. The Kong Stuff-a-Ball and the Trixie Dog Activity Chess have multiple levels of difficulty. The Kong one also helps clean teeth. It is important to start with easier puzzles so your dog gets rewarded and is not frustrated or loses interest if the game is too challenging. These feeding toys can benefit all dogs, including those who eat too fast, become bored or anxious easily, or spend a lot of time alone as they take time and energy to solve and provide mental stimulation.
There are toys that make noises or light up, etc. which can be fun for your dog as well. Choose carefully (annoyance factor) or put these toys away so you can sleep at night.
Your dog really loves spending quality time with you most of all, so why not sign up for a class together? Obedience, agility, frisbee, dock diving come to mind. There are even camps for owners and pets to do daily activities together like yoga, hiking, ballroom dancing! If this is too much, consider using that new leash set and getting a group dog walk going in your neighborhood. These gifts allow you to make memories together, get out to meet other pets and their owners, gets you off the couch and out the door… possibly lowering your blood pressure, stress levels and releasing some endorphins. Perhaps these ideas for gifts aren’t just for the dogs!
Whatever you choose, by all means, enjoy the season… with your dog!