Dog Accessories Tips

Read these 15 Dog Accessories Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dog tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Soft-sided slings & carriers

If you have a toy sized puppy or dog, you might want to consider toting him around in a dog carrier. There are a wide variety of options available. You can choose from tote carriers, slings, pet pouches, and even canine strollers. If you decide to put your dog in a carrier, choose something that is suitable for his weight and well ventilated to keep him cool. Despite the fact it might look 'really cool' in its construction, remember to keep in mind the natural sitting or laying down posture of a dog. With repeative use in the wrong position, this can cause harm to a dog's spine and bone structure!

What are some parameters for choosing the right dog bed?

It's in the Accessories

Is your dog panting in the heat of summer or trying to keep warm on cold winter nights? You can add comfort to your dog's sleeping arrangements by adding accessories to their sleep area. Heated beds are available to keep your pooch warm and toasty. Just plug them in and let your dog enjoy the warmth. To keep your canine nice and cool, try a cooler mat. Some are designed to be soaked in water and air-dried and will keep their chilling power for days.


Safety first when buying pet toys

When shopping for a dog toy, choose the plaything that fits your dog's personality and is also safe. The right dog toy fits your dog's own unique personality. Chewing is a big part of dog play, so consider chewing habits when buying a dog toy. Aggressive chewers need durable rubber or nylon dog toys. A dog toy that is a hard bone, available at pet stores, is always a good choice for the aggressive chewer.

Also, shop for dog toys that can't easily be ripped apart if you have an aggressive chewer. Semi-aggressive chewers can go for softer, plusher dog toys of canvas, fleece or rope. Try smearing your dog toy with peanut better, which makes the dog toy a more enticing treat for your pet. Think of safety first anytime you shop for a dog toy. Make sure the dog toy is tough enough to resist breaking and inspect your dog toys on a regular basis for tears, potential loss of a squeaker, etc.

What should I avoid in dog beds?

It's What's On the Inside That Counts

Don't overlook the stuffing of dog beds before you make your purchase. Some dogs are allergic to some synthetic materials and can get rashes from being in contact with plastics. Try to find a dog bed with all natural materials, like wool and cotton. A bed stuffed with cedar chips has the additional advantage of warding off fleas and other insect pests. Some other beds use recycled material for the stuffing, which keeps down the waste in our environment.


Boots made for walkin' your dog

Walking your dog in the winter is fun and healthy for pet and owner -- but not if your dog's toes and pads get cold and injured by ice, snow, even salt from the streets. Dog boots can help. Just as boots protect people with warmth and durability, dog boots can do the same. Outfit your dog with dog boots that come in a variety of styles. Some dog boots look like mini-golashes, and come complete with adjustable buckles for custom fit.

Dog boots come in a range of sizes and styles, too. There are dog boots for small Pugs to giant Pyrenees. Finding the right dog boots for your pet depends on size, style and the type of terrain your dog most often travels on: snow, sand, grass, dirt, burrs or cactus. There is a dog boot for every season and need. Some types of dog boots also aid pets with sensitive paws. There are dog boots for paws healing from cuts and bruises.

Most dogs will not enjoy wearing boots initially - especially if they are older than puppies. If you intend to use this for your dog, start them out early as puppies. If you have an older dog that now needs to wear them, start out with very small spaces of time (1-2 minutes) and then take them off, rewarding the dog with treats and praise. As your dog's comfort level increases, you can increase the time span.

A word of caution about dog boots and shoes - many dogs sweat through their foot pads and if your dog has on a sweater and boots, pay close attention to the amount of panting he is doing for the boots are cutting off his means of cooling himself down.


Dog carriers make travel fun for pets

Dog carriers have a huge range of uses. If your dog isn't a good traveler and doesn't ride well in moving vehicles, try a dog carrier. Your dog may feel more secure in a dog carrier and it can be their 'home away from home' for dogs that get nervous during travel. Dog carriers help dogs behave well, stay calm and provide you with the peace of mind while driving!

Many rescued dogs need either a crate or kennel at the beginning of their transition from shelter to home, for the experience of the shelter might have been very traumatic for them. The smaller confined space (as opposed to the wide space of your home) can be comforting to the shelter dog at the beginning of their new life with you.

When buying a dog carrier, make sure you select the right size. The dog carrier should be high enough to allow your dog to stand comfortably and be roomy enough to accommodate the length of your dog, too. There are dog carriers to fit the extra-large Newfie and the small Dachshund.

In choosing your dog carrier, consider your lifestyle needs.

----- How often will you use your dog carrier?

----- How much do you want to spend on your dog carrier?

----- Does it need to have the ability to collapse to a very small size for space purposes?

----- Are you going to be traveling by air? There are restrictions specific for this kind of travel.

----- Do you need a kennel or a crate?

Kennels are usually plastic with one door and have a handle - most collapse around the center and can be flipped into each other to save space. Air travel is usually done with kennels and they come in a wealth of sizes to pick from.

Crates on the other hand are usually vinyl-covered wire and collapse fully into a flat almost suit-case like object readily slide underneath any bed or in the back of a closet when not needed. You can also buy furniture that fits over a crate so it can be added to any room in your house (similiar to an end-table appearance). For the larger breeds, adding a set of furniture movers (with wheels) to the bottom will allow you mobility to move this crate without having to break it down. ALL have solid bottoms (unlike cages designed for rabbits which have wire bottoms)... make sure you don't buy the wrong one and your dog's paws or toes get caught in those wire bottoms!

There are many styles and types of dog carriers to choose from. Dog carriers can be plush, with plenty of stretching room, even air-conditioning and heat. There are dog carriers that are waterproof. Some dog carriers come with water bottles, food dishes and covers to prevent drafts.

Also, consider your dog's personality when choosing a dog carrier. Active dogs are going to need a dog carrier with ample space. NEVER put a dog inside a crate or kennel with their leash on - it is just too easy for it to get tangled up and choke him to death. If your dog is initially scared of a crate or kennel, begin with short spans of time and give them a Kong (available at any petshop) to occupy themselves with.

In the long run, the purchase of a kennel or crate for any dog is a must, whether you travel or not. Many dogs prefer to snooze their afternoons away inside a kennel or crate with an open door and transition to using this same item when traveling!

How can I make my dog's crate or kennel more comfortable?

Dog Beds For Kennels and Crates

Just because your dog sleeps in his crate doesn't mean he can't be comfortable. You can add an orthopedic bed, foam pad, or fleece pad to make his area soft and cozy. These crate inserts come in the waterproof and machine washable variety so that you can keep your pooch's area clean as well. Another added feature to some beds is a layer of air as a cushion - great for your older dogs with arthritic knees and joints. For the smaller breeds that get cold easier, add in or purchase a bed with self-generating heat. Always make sure the length of the dog bed is as long as your pooch is from head to base of tail - if they can't stretch out it in when they want to, they'll seldom use it once you've bought it!

What types of dog houses are available for my dog?

Doghouse Options

In today's market, you can find a wide variety of doghouses to shelter your pooch. First consider the type of dog that you own, what his needs are, and what your budget is. If you have a dog who needs a confined area to run, consider a kennel run. Are you looking for an upscale doghouse complete with porch, steps, and a fenced area? Those are available as well.

For those who want a simpler approach, you can purchase a less expensive plastic doghouse which will shield your canine from most elements just fine. And for the tool savvy dog owner, consider designing your own doghouse or obtaining the plans to one. There's a tremendous amount of information available for building complex doghouses complete with electricity in styles from modern to a traditional one.

The doghouse should have a stable base and be tilted a bit forward towards the door in the event water or rain comes in. If the base is not stable, the dog won't use it because of its wobbly nature.

Does my dog need an oversized dog bed?

Dog Beds - A Space of His Own

If your dog is the resident couch hog, then consider getting him a space of his very own. There are a wide variety of beds available from warm and fuzzy nest balls, to canine sized mattresses, to furniture inspired replicas of beds and sofas. Giving your pooch his own personalized space will give him a comfortable retreat and let him know where he can spend his time sleeping and lounging. Look for covers that can be zipped off and thrown in the washer. If you have a persistant leg lifter, look for hammocks that can sit up and off the floor or ground and easily washed. Check the contents of the internal fillers for some dogs are allergic to cedar chips or if they chew a hole in it, the filler can be toxic to their systems.


Doggone it, those are some doggles!

Doggles are not only for the pamped pooch. Dogs that have eye surgery or a disease that causes blindness or other eye disabilities can benefit from Doggles. Doggles are sunglasses that protect your pet from the harsh glare. If no accessory is too good for your favorite pooch, try doggles. These are not just for glam dogs. Doggles work for dogs with sensitive eyes or blind dogs, protecting their eyes from walking into objects at eye level.

Doggles are for pooches who spend a lot of time in the sun or snow as well. If the glare is too harsh on your eyes, your dog needs sunglasses, too. The best doggles block 100 percent of UV light and are made of shatterproof plastic. There are doggles that wraparound, to keep out stray light or foreign objects. Most doggles have adjustable straps that hold the glasses securely on the dog's head. Doggles can fit small, medium or large dogs and doggles with multi-colored lenses are available. Doggles are affordable. There are doggles available online for as low as $20 a pair.


Take a hike with your dog

You're outfitted for recreation, but does your dog have dog packs, dog boots, dog coats, and dog jackets??? You can take your dog along with you on hikes and backpacking trips, but make sure you follow a few rules and your comfort and experience can be maximized.

First, make sure the trip is appropriate for the dog's ability and size. Just about any dog could walk a few miles down a logging trail, but only good climbers with lots of stamina can climb mountains or go on extended trips. Make sure you have enough food: dogs can carry their own food and water in their own dog pack.

And if you're a gear head, you can outfit your dog, too, with appropriate dog clothes. Doggles, dog boots, dog coats and dog jackets are all appropriate, depending on the trip and how much you (or the dog) are able to carry. Remember to keep the dog well watered, especially during the summer. But also remember that dogs can drink from any spring or stream without having to worry about the same bacteria that can end a trip for their human companions.

Most of all, enjoy the trip. It's a great time for you and your best friend to be alone for an extended period, with plenty of exercise and fun for both of you!


Thanks for the gumball

In what has to be one of the all-time-cool dog toys, Yuppy Puppy has a dog treat dispenser in the shape of an old-time gumball machine. Yuppy Puppy offers a 13-inch-tall working gumball machine that dispenses a dog treat every time anyone pushes down on a lever in the shape of a bone. How can a Yuppy Puppy resist this tasetful gift? Best part: You can easily train your dog to operate this himself. The Yuppy Puppy Treat Machine is made of metal, plastic and acrylic and available online for as low as $36, without treats. Yuppy Puppy also makes a line of multicolored (looks like gumballs) dog treats designed specially for the machine, available in a bag big enough to fill the globe at least twice for as low as $9.95 online. One warning: The self-operated lever only works for medium-size and big dogs.

What should I do for a dog often left home alone?

Housing Solutions for Dogs Left Alone

If you must leave your dog alone for long periods of time, but want to give him shelter and access to the outdoors, consider a kennel run. They typically come in galvanized steel and in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. For added protection, you can install a kennel roof to help shield your canine from the elements of sun and rain. If you're looking for a cozier option, you can also purchase a wood kennel, which is completely enclosed with a screened area for your dog to get a little exercise.


Kong king of dog toys

If your dog loves to chew, consider a Kong toy. Kong toys have been around since 1976 and there's a reason why: durability. Kong toys make tennis ball for dog play and plush toys. But Kong is best known for Kong toys of hard rubber that are super-bounceable. Kong dog toys stand up to very tough chewers. Most Kong toys also have teeth cleaning surfaces that help build strong teeth and gums. Some Kong toys even have internal compartments to hold treats, which make them irresistible. If you leave your chewer with a Kong toy, chances are the dog will be too busy with the Kong toy to chew on furnishings and other items you want to protect. Wherever you can buy a Kong, you can usually buy the cans of goodies you can squirt inside and this will keep your pooch busy!


Take the bite out of barking

Having trouble with your barking dog? Try an anti-bark collar. The anti-bark collar is safe for your pet, unlike some collars that use electric shocks. Companies claim electric shocks are not harmful or painful, but why not find a safer and humane alternative with an anti-bark collar?

There are two types of anti-bark collars - one emits a high-frequency sound that pulses in response to a dog's bark. But the sounds from the anti-bark collar are not audible to human ears. The second (and most popular) is a citronella anti-bark collar. Fastened around the dog's neck in training situations, the sound of the dog's bark triggers a shot of citronella to be squirted out beneath his snout... and dogs don't like the smell at all!

Most important, these anti-bark training collars are safe for pets. No shocks and no pain for your dog. The anti-bark collar is sensitive enough to hear nuisance barks. The anti-bark collar sends its pulse out around the neighborhood. Dogs will hear or smell the effects of their barking, and it triggers a learned behavior in the dog - I bark, I smell or hear... YUCK!

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Guru Spotlight
Carma Spence-Pothitt