My 5 Essential Items as a Dog Owner

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

These are a few of my favorite things – Maria von Trapp

The other day I started to think about the items that make my life easier as Porter’s owner. There are certain things that I couldn’t live without when it comes to being a dog owner. I’m sure you have your list as well. But today, I wanted to share with you the 5 things that I couldn’t live without as a dog owner.


1. The Backpack

We talk about Activity a lot. I’m sure you’re sick of it, but guess what? We don’t care because it’s so important. However, Porter’s backpack helps him with the Activity he needs. I can go the same distance as I usually do, however he’ll feel like he has gone a lot further and will help him get even more activity in. At first I started with an empty backpack. Once he got used to that, I would add empty shopping bags so that he got used to items making noise in the backpack. Now, he’s up to 2-5% of his body weight (this is a good rule to follow) and we use coffee beans to create that weight. Feel free to use anything that is not going to make your dog want to rip into the backpack (raw steak) or anything that could hurt them if they bumped up against a tree (water bottles).

I could not live without his backpack though. It helps get Porter even more tired than he would from a normal walk and that is extremely helpful. A tired dog is a good dog!


2. Enrichment Feeder

Porter’s enrichment feeder is key. We’ve used both a Kong Wobbler and Busy Buddy Twist ‘n Feed. The Busy Buddy works best for Porter as there’s not as much movement. Porter’s food aggressive so the less energy around meal time the better. The enrichment feeder makes him work for his food which is great. I’m able to give him some mental stimulation without adding any time to my day. Meal time shouldn’t be easy! We work for our food, he should as well. Mentally tiring your dog is just as important as physically tiring them out.

Yup, Porter is actually in there!

Yup, Porter is actually in there!

 3. Collapsible Crate

A collapsible crate has been my best friend since my days with Vesta. This great little invention folds up to almost nothing and is light weight. You can throw it in the back of your car or carry it a block or two without any issues. Now, I don’t use the collapsible crate on a daily basis. This type of crate comes in handy if we’re traveling. Whether it’s night at a friend’s house or a hotel stay. I’m able to conveniently bring a crate wherever we are and he has a place to sleep without feeling the need to investigate every noise in our new place. I don’t leave him in the crate if I will be going out however. If I plan on leaving Porter for a longer period of time in a new place, I will use his regular crate. But for quick overnights this crate is a life saver.

light up leash

 4. Light up Leash

Porter is black. He is extremely hard to see at night or in the early morning. When I go out for a run or walk in the morning I am very cognizant of the fact that not everyone can readily see who I’m walking. That’s why my light up leash is one of my go to’s. It allows cars passing by to see both of us and helps keep us safe. You can look into reflective leashes or light up collars as well. Anything to help other individuals on the road that there are two of you walking is a great idea.

Although there may be some days where he drives me crazy, my life is so much better because he's in it.

Although there may be some days where he drives me crazy, my life is so much better because he’s in it.

5. Microchip

It’s important to plan for the unexpected. Do I anticipate Porter running away from home? Not necessarily. Maybe sometimes when I tell him he can’t have that piece of meat that just dropped on the floor, but it’s not something I worry about. However, I know anything can happen. Dogs can be spooked by noises, he could get out while he’s in boarding, he could see a squirrel and decide that today is the day he’s going to find out where that squirrel lives. So, instead of living in fear constantly, I make sure I take care of those situations and make sure he’s safe as possible, however I also have him micro-chipped. If by some weird state of circumstances he happens to get away from him, he has a microchip that will help any vet or shelter that he goes to contact me. If you don’t have your dog micro-chipped, contact your vet and speak to them about it. It can save a lot of heartache.


Those are the 5 items that I couldn’t live without while being a dog owner. What are your essential items?

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

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