And the 4 We Skip
It's not always easy to shop for your favorite people during the holidays. Will they like it? Will it fit? Fortunately, our dogs are so much easier to shop for, and I happen to have some special insight as to what a lot of our dog would be asking for from Santa. Here's a look at just a few things my Ellis and Arwen will be finding under our Christmas tree.
Whether you have a dog, or are looking for a gift for someone who does, here are a few gift ideas to put you right at the top of Santa's nice list.
1. Enrichment Feeders
You've heard me go on and on (and on) about the merits of using enrichment feeders for your dog's meals, but seriously, I can't think of any good reasons to not use them. Every meal. Every time. Here's some new ones that will be added to our repertoire.
A lot less noisy than some of the other mobile feeders, this one gets your dog a bit of activity without the constant "thud" on hard floors.
The perfect marriage between a slow feeder and an enrichment feeder, I'm loving the concept of the food entering a containment area for the dog to eat from, rather than just landing on the floor.
2. New Backpacks
Arwen and Ellis wear their backpacks mostly on walks now, as we have a lot of other ways we exercise, but for a young dog over 6 months, wearing a small amount of weight all day in the house (while you're home) is a great way to get rid of excess energy. (Learn more about using backpacks effectively and safely in this link.)
Right now, I'm eyeballing this one for Arwen. I've used OneTigris for Ellis for the past 2 years, and I love the padded velcro fasteners (easier to get on than other brands).
3. Gift Certificates to Doggie Day Care
We all love our dogs, but let's face it: sometimes it's nice to let someone else wear your dogs out for you. Arwen is a huge fan of daycare, as she's a very young dog still. It also provides much-needed socialization, and I love the fact that she comes home exhausted.
4. Tennis Balls
Every year I buy a bulk pack, and somehow they're all gone within a few months, but it is always fun to see Ellis when I drop all the balls at once.
5. The Gift of Learning Together
As a dog trainer, I never stop Piloting my dogs and helping them grow their self confidence as well as their trust in me. We will always continue growing together, and working together, so I guess that's their gift to me as well: a healthy bond based on communication. For me, it's picking up new ideas for tricks as well. For others, it may be a gift certificate for actual training to help with their dog's anxiety, or just learning how to have an enjoyable leashed walk with their dog.
6. Dog DNA Test
C'mon.... you know someone is just dying to find out what your rescue is. I got Arwen's DNA results back recently, and while I would never judge a dog based upon their breed, it was fascinating to see how many genetic traits they picked out correctly from her sample, from her eye color and coat type to how she holds her ears(!) - it was amazing.
7. Dog Photo Shoot
I've never met someone who is sorry they had it done. Just do it.
8. Automatic Ball Thrower
I always thought this was a waste of money... until I saw it in action when I was training someone's dog. Arwen is going to lose her mind.
9. A Canine Companion
If your dog is lonely, and you have the time, means and ability to care for a second dog, consider adopting a new friend for you and your pooch. While a dog is never a good gift to give unannounced, if it's something you've been kicking around for a while, maybe now's the time to adopt a rescue dog. Give a deserving dog a home for the holidays. If a second dog isn't in the cards, what about a donation to the shelter you adopted your dog from?
10. The Gift of Time
Let's face it: you are your dog's favorite thing. What about just spending more time with your dog? Schedule a little getaway road trip together, or even just an overnight at a pet-friendly hotel. Perhaps just adding another ten minutes to your usual walk, or simply getting on the floor with them and cuddle for 10 minutes without any distractions (no phone, no tv), just you and your dog. Because it's your time that matters most to your dog.
Now what about the things my dogs won't be getting?
1. Laser Pointers
Just don't. It's not good for dogs or cats. It just increases prey drive with no tangibles, leading to frustration and frequently obsessive behaviors.
I get it: they're cheap, your dog loves them, but if you love your dog, just don't do it. Dr. Stephanie Austin at Preventative Vet states:
...rawhide is difficult to digest due to it being a byproduct of leather, making it extremely difficult for a dog’s digestive system to break down. This creates a risk of obstruction in the esophagus or intestines if a dog swallows a large piece whole.
Go with antlers, hooves, or raw (never cooked!) marrow bones.
3. Tidbits from the Holiday Feasting
As much as I want to, most holiday foods aren't good for your dog's tummy, and some are even poisonous. You're not a Grinch if you don't share your food with your begging dog.
Yup, my dogs do stupid things. But they're not meant to be human. They are merely doing the best they can in our human world. Sometimes they fail. But guess what: even as humans in a human world we still fail. Which is why understanding and empathy are the greatest gifts you can give. And yes, I know they can be costly, especially when your 6-month old puppy chews up that blanket you've been knitting over the past month (looking at you, Arwen).
As Pope said, "To err is human. To forgive canine."
Understanding is the greatest gift you can gift your dog, and it's also one of the most costly for us humans. But never has anyone deserved your understanding, love and empathy as much as your best friend.
What will you be giving your canine companion this holiday season?
Dog Training vs. Dog Life
By focusing on dog life, rather than dog training, our goals can become so much more attainable and clear-cut. Most of us don't want an obedient dog, we just don't want a dis-obedient dog. Robot-style dogs who are afraid of stepping out of line are for certain types of people I guess.
But that's not my style. That's why I developed the Piloting method of dog training over 20 years ago, a force-free method of dog training and puppy training that didn't rely on abusive shock collars or cruel prong collars, yet didn't constantly bribe with non-stop click-n-treat style dog training. I want a bond with my dog based on trust and communication.
Learn more about our Piloting method of dog and puppy training here.
Find out more about our private in home 30 Day Best Dog Ever and 30 Day Best Puppy Ever training packages here.
Have questions about our puppy training or dog training?
Dog Training and Puppy Training
Greater Cleveland Area