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Fun Activities for Your Dog: Splurge Edition!

There are many simple ways that you can keep your dog happy and engaged that do not cost a lot of money–but that is a topic for another post! In this post, I’m sharing some of my favorite brands and toys that may rack up a bit of an Amazon or Chewy or Etsy spend. 


These are the splurges for those of us who sometimes want to delight in the quick get for our friend. 


Will our dog be spoiled because of this pampering treatment? There’s really no risk! We do not need to fear that our dog will not find a good job, fail to vote, or become morally corrupt if we indulge her. 


We can watch her enjoy life knowing that we still hold the keys (quite literally!) to all that she needs and desires (the safe home, fun walkies, car rides, playtime, etc.). There’s no harm in encouraging her to be even more happy if that is what these things make her (and us!). 


With that in mind, here are some of my favorite extravagances and, if you need them, some justifications for making the splurge. This blog has Amazon Affiliate Links and it does help me if you do decide to make a splurge to use those links! I have not been paid to endorse any of these products, however. These are just things I use and like for my own dogs or found really nice to have in a shelter environment.


Of course, take your own dogs individual preferences and safety needs into account when choosing splurges for them!


Please share your favorite splurges for dogs in the comments! “Yes, please!” say my dogs, Lily and Tish, who would love to benefit from your additional suggestions!


PUZZLE FEEDERS AND TREAT-DISPENSING TOYS

KONGS: You probably already know about this treat dispensing and boredom-busting stalwart toy, right? This toy will change your dog’s life from ho-hum to hurrah! And yours, too! From “C’mon, what now?” while you are trying to work, for example, to blissful peace (albeit accompanied by the sound of licking). For ease of stuffing, you can splurge on other Kong products like easy treat spray filler, the KONG Marathon topper, or the Ziggies chews to stuff them with. Although this falls more in the DIY section, I love the KONG recipe guide as well. Kong also makes some fun toys. The KONG Wobbler is another great treat dispensing toy. Many dogs love the squeaky-rrific KONG Wubba and they also have some pretty sturdy plush toys. While you are splurging, get the brush designed to clean the KONG.


WestPaw Toppl: The Toppl is a treat dispensing toy. It has a bit less of a learning curve than the Kong toy since you can more easily see and get to what’s inside. That makes it better for less food-motivated or less eager dogs. It’s pretty, too, and easy to clean. WestPaw’s current Facebook ad jokes about how many Toppls people have, “Just one?”. It’s a spot on ad. Yes, once you get one Toppl, you may want more. My dogs have multiple Toppls, the better to prep ahead and freeze! Yes, I want them in the new designer colors, too. 



SodaPup: Squee! SodaPup products are SO CUTE! The heart design Lick Mat, the Mandala tray feeder, the Great Outdoors bowl, the Garden of Eatin’ Tipsy Bowl. I’m sending you straight to the main site, sodapup.com, so you can see all the variety. It’s hard to not want a couple more of these. Here's a short video of a pretty Mandala meal I made for Tish.


Excuse to spend: Well, you wouldn’t just feed your dog out of a bowl would you? It’s not the end of the world and may certainly be appropriate for some dogs at some times in their lives to use a bowl. However, one of the easiest ways to trade boredom for fun is to ditch the bowl. Slow feeders, puzzle feeders, and treat-dispensing toys are a great way to go. Boredom is not only BORING! it can lead to troublesome behaviors so providing fun is a win-win for you and your dog. There are lots of varieties of these kinds of toys which can be used in place of a bowl. I call it leisurely fine-dining versus fast food. The toys above are just a few of my favorites. My shelter experience says they are durable, too.


FUN FOR ACTIVE DOGS


Snuffle Mats and Snuffle Balls: Yes, there are DIY options to encourage sniffing and foraging, but snuffle mats and balls are so cute and convenient. You can find cute options on Amazon and on Etsy. Although I’m sad to report the small business that made the heart-shaped one for Lily and Tish is temporarily closed. Yes, they are named after that most adorable snuffle sound dogs make when they are sniffing for treats in them.


Katie’s Bumpers: If your dog likes to tug, is motivated by play rewards, or likes to carry a toy in his mouth on walks, this is a great toy for them. My shelter experience says it’s durable, too.


Goughnuts toys: I have little pups and they aren't big chewers so we can make good work of a sweet potato chew and call it good. For power chewers, check out Goughnuts. I like the tug toy. It was a go-to toy for something safe for big dogs in the shelter environment although we did have a 140 pound mastiff who managed to snap even one of these toys in two. Dogs!


Long lead: The kind of leash I usually recommend, a six foot rope lead, is not a splurge. If you want to give your dog a taste of that off leash feeling –or, practice their recall, a nice 15 or 20 foot long lead is great. It’s also a great experience, when safe, for shelter dogs. High Tail Hikes makes nice biothane ones in your choice of colors. Mendota makes sturdy rope ones.


Excuse to spend: You have an active dog and you need to keep them entertained! It’s worth it to keep your bored dog out of trouble!


THE GOOD LIFE FOR AGING DOGS OR DOGS WITH MOBILITY NEEDS


Bessie and Barnie dog beds: Bessie and Barnie offers “luxurious” dog beds. And, yes, they are. Nice color combinations, too.  


Stairs/Ramps: Buying stairs or a ramp for your dog to get up onto furniture or into the car is a kindness. I don’t have favorites to recommend. It depends on your dog’s size and needs as well as the height of your furniture and car.


Excuse to spend: You love your senior dog or dog with mobility issues and want to make life more comfortable for them. More about this in a future post!


TREAT ME, PLEASE!


Treats: We actually don’t eat a lot of "treats" in our house. We prefer to call them rewards and we get rewarded a lot: rewards for behaviors we want more of like sitting quietly on the couch instead of begging under the dinner table or for practicing some fun games like jump, spin, and high-five. When we do have treats for treat’s sake, I love to give them heart-shaped V-Dog Wiggle Biscuits or Cocotherapy Co-co Charms hearts, bones, and stars. Both are vegan. The Wiggle Biscuits are featured in this short I made in honor of Boo Boo of Rescued by Training's passing and in my Toppl video


Excuse to spend: No excuse needed!

ACCESSORIES THAT MAKE ME SMILE


You Had Me at Woof shop on Etsy made the cutest collars and leashes with a fun selection of patterns. Unfortunately they are taking a break. If you know of another cute shop with great selections, let me know!


The I Woof You sweater from Rogue and Woof is adorable and great quality for those who like Goth chic.

A large dog in a yellow raincoat with soft eyes.

I have not quite had it in me to splurge on a steampunk dog dress from Bella’s Fancy Wardrobe. It’s too much of a splurge even for my girls. But never say never!?


If you are looking for a more practical splurge Canada Pooch makes good raingear. I like the Slush Suit.


For human clothing splurges for dog friends, I love Woof Cultr


Excuse to spend: Cuuuute! I used to be one of those people who thought sweaters, raincoats, pajamas, dresses, and clothes for dogs were silly. But after working in rescue, I’ve changed my mind. Some dogs get cold and some don’t like being rained on either. If the dog likes or has been trained to like wearing an outfit, then fine! Also, these things can be so cute! I don’t know why I ever denied myself the joy of adding +2 to my dog’s already high charisma score (and, yes, that’s a DnD reference) by putting them in an adorable outfit.


READ ALL ABOUT THEM: DOG BEHAVIOR NERDS, RULE!


Books: Of course, if you are a dog nerd there are many essential books for dogs and I would hardly call them splurges. Being bookish, I always think books are necessities. You can stock up at Dogwise (if you are reading in Washington note that this is a local book publisher based in Wenatchee).


But a list of wonderful items for dogs would not be complete without books so here are a few favorites for dog parents:



Excuse to spend: One of the best things you can do for dogs is learn more about them.


Big splurges: Fancy agility equipment and turning your backyard into a sensory garden! These are on my some day list!


Thank you for reading all of my splurge ideas for dog fun! I will have upcoming blog posts on DIY fun for dogs as well as splurge items for cats and DIY fun for cats and more suggestions for aids for senior animals. Subscribe to my blog here for more


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