Holiday Gifts for Dogs

The holidays are here and it’s time to shop. The pet industry is brimming with practical, fun and techie gadgets for that special dog in your life. Here are some ideas for pet presents beyond the usual dog treats.

If you travel with your dog a lot, check out Overland Dog Gear’s variety of travel bags for pooches. They have sizes ranging from a purse-size bag for day trips to large rolling bags and duffels for long trips. The average size comes with zippered carriers for food and treats, extra space for toys and water and collapsible water and food dishes with their own placemat. They claim it meets airline carry on requirements.

Another travel-related gadget is a trailer hitch-mounted step. Jumping out of trucks and SUVs can be harmful on joints and is not recommended for growing puppies and giant breeds. The Twistep attaches to the trailer hitch mount and can be stowed by swinging it under the car body. The reviews I’ve seen (I don’t have one myself) are largely favorable, and the construction looks solid.

Whether your dog likes to roam, or just mosey around the house and yard, there several GPS trackers on the market to help you monitor your pet’s location and activity. The Whistle 3 is the highest rated among reviews I’ve found. Most offer real-time mapping, and some will alert you if your dog leaves a predefined area. Most require a monthly subscription for data transfer.

A more budget friendly option is a dog tag with a Qr code. When someone scans the code with a smart phone, they can see details about your dog, along with your contact information through a website you set up. Some, like the PawPrintsID will also alert you via text message and email with the GPS location of your pet and contact information for the person who found your pet (if the finder has a smartphone). Most tags allow you to store medical information and photos too. The Qr tags don’t require a monthly subscription.

If you’ve got an obsessive ball fetcher in the family, an automatic ball launcher will keep your pup busy while you’re glued to your mobile device. The ifetch uses smaller tennis balls and is great for small to medium sized dogs. For larger dogs, use the ifetch Too. You can adjust the launch distance to 10, 20 or 30 feet, so it’s useable indoors and outdoors.

The GoDogGo launcher shoots regular sized tennis balls, and while it claims to be adjustable for indoor use, it appears to shoot more vertically than the ifetch devices, so that may be an issue indoors if your dog likes to leap up to catch.

If you’re looking for something for your nervous pooch, the icalmdog® is a tiny speaker that uses SD cards loaded with specially developed music to soothe the stressed-out dog.  It also has a Bluetooth function, so you can stream music from another device.

And don’t forget to shop locally. Ellensburg Pet Center, the Whole Pet Shop (in Roslyn), Ranch and Home and Old Mill Country Store carry a great variety of toys, treats, beds and more for your doggie gift giving. Happy shopping!


Vacationing with Your Dog

Summer is in its glory and vacations are on everyone’s mind. Many of us want to bring our furry friends along to share the good times. Travel with our pets can present some challenges, however with a bit of extra planning and realistic expectations you can have a fun relaxing vacation together.

Think about your dog’s personality and social experiences. If your dog is outgoing and a seasoned traveler, busy tourist destinations may be great fun for both of you. On the other hand, shy or unsocialized dogs may not enjoy the sounds and sights of a city or a campground full of strangers. Some dogs get anxious when away from home which can lead to unwanted behaviors like excessive barking, destructive chewing or marking.

Dogs who don’t enjoy car rides can become anxious on a long road trip. Prepare them ahead of time by taking short trips that end in fun situations, to help your dog learn to enjoy the ride. Talk to your veterinarian about treatment options if your dog gets car sick. While traveling, plan to stop for potty and exercise breaks every couple of hours.

Consider your dog’s physical fitness. Very young pups or older dogs with arthritis or other health issues may not have the stamina to keep up on a rugged hike or lengthy backpacking trip but might enjoy some time playing and splashing at the beach, or relaxing at a cabin in the woods.

How dog-friendly is your destination?  If camping is your thing, Washington State Parks allow dogs on leash in campgrounds and on trails. In general, dogs are allowed off leash in National Forests and BLM lands. National Parks allow leashed dogs in the campground, but they’re banned from trails in the park.

If your dog isn’t used to being on leash or reacts badly when meeting other dogs on leash, you’ll need to do some pre-trip training, to avoid potential altercations. If you’ll be in off-leash areas, your dog should be under voice control.

If you’ll be renting accommodations while on the road, be sure to understand their pet-friendly requirements. Are there size or breed restrictions? Is there an additional fee for pets? Are the dogs required to be on leash, or is there an off-leash area nearby? Are dogs allowed in public spaces like galleries, local attractions or wineries?

Are you planning to visit family and friends on your travels? Check in first to make sure your dog will be welcome. If your dog isn’t great with strangers or other dogs, you’ll need a management plan to keep everyone happy and safe.

Be prepared to spend a lot of time together with your dog. Dogs can’t be left alone in most hotels, or campgrounds and summer heat means no leaving the dog in the car. Some vacation rentals will allow dogs to be left, but many dogs will become stressed and potentially destructive if left alone in a strange place. Before travelling, get your dog used to relaxing in a crate while you’re gone for short periods or while there are other activities taking place in the house. Bring the crate with you so he has a familiar and comfortable place to rest.

Regardless of where you’re traveling this summer, make sure your best buddy is wearing ID tags and has a microchip. Nobody thinks their dog will get lost, but it happens. Having identification will increase the likelihood that you’ll get your best friend back.