It’s officially the HOWL-iday season! And, with thousands upon thousands of gifts and gadgets for dogs and dog lovers, finding the perfect, unique gift can be a little less than merry.
Read on for some questions to ask yourself when shopping for your furriest family members and a few paw-some gift ideas that are sure to please even the pickiest pets!
Questions to Ask Yourself When Shopping for a Dog:
1. What is the dog’s style of play?
Like humans, every dog has a different personality and different style of play. Some dogs prefer to take it easy with a soft, plush squeaky toy to carry around and snuggle, while others have a more rough and tumble style and would rip a stuffed animal to shreds within seconds of getting their paws on it. For dogs that are more destructive, look for “tough toys” made especially for heavy chewers, like Kong toys or Outward Hound’s Invincibles toys.
Some dogs love to run and fetch, so a Chuck-It ball launcher or Frisbee would make their biggest wish come true, while a dog that prefers to watch all the action from his spot on the sofa would enjoy a more cerebral activity, like a Nina Ottosson treat puzzle.
2. How old is the dog?
A dog’s age plays an important role in the types of gifts they’ll enjoy. Puppies will love teething toys (and so will puppy parents as these toys can help put an end to chewing on table legs), squeakers, rattlers, and a variety of toys that expose them to different sounds and textures. Nylabone Puppy Toys are designed especially to meet the chewing needs of puppies.
Senior dogs, on the other hand, might prefer a nice new orthopedic pet bed, or a cozy blanket to nap under.
3. Are you buying a gift for a dog who also lives in a home with children?
Dogs who live in a home with kids (and the kids they love) will benefit from outdoor dog activities: tennis balls, throwing disks, and other fetch toys will get both the dogs and the kids moving. Backyard agility sets are fun for dogs and kids to do together.
Another great idea for both dogs and their young humans is a dog training book or video made especially for kids. Training is so important, not just for obedience, but for confidence building, mental stimulation, and exercise. Plus, you can never go wrong giving gifts that encourage kids to be better family members to their four-legged brothers and sisters.
4. Does the pet you’re buying for spend a lot of time alone?
If you’re looking for a gift for a dog with busy humans, a wifi pet camera might just be the gift you’re looking for! The PetCube Bites Camera has a built-in treat dispenser, so if you check on your dog and he’s behaving and being adorable, you can give him a treat – from anywhere in the world! (This camera also won our top pick for Best Pet Cameras for Dog Owners, among other excellent full-featured choices! Learn more about pet cams here!)
5. What are the interests of the dog’s owner?
Think of gifts that not only the pet will love, but the owner will love, too! What are the dog owner’s interests? For example, if you’re buying for a dog with a football-loving human, a dog jersey for their favorite team, a team collar and leash set, bandana, or a plush football toy will show you put thought into gift giving.
Do they love camping or travel? How about some new travel gear or a crash-tested vehicle harness? If they’re into fitness, a new backpack for their jogging buddy might be perfect!
Are they into cooking? A cookbook for dogs, pet-shaped cookie cutters or baking trays, or a food dehydrator will be a big hit with both dog and owner.
Don’t forget the dog’s mom or dad!
While we’re discussing shopping for dogs, let’s not forget gifting the pet parent, too! Our most favorite gift to give to a dog parent is something that inspires them to enjoy their life with their dog. A book on training, like Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution is excellent for teaching basic dog manners and strengthening the human/dog bond – bundle it up with a cool treat pouch and a clicker to make a thoughtful gift set!
Inspire your dog loving friends and family to spend time with their dog with a gift card for their favorite dog-friendly restaurant. Or, how about matching activity trackers like a FitBit for the human and a FitBark for the dog – great for getting out and getting fit together in the New Year!
Still not sure what to get?
Gifts that can be personalized are always extra special, like a collar or ID tag with the dog’s name engraved on it.
Squeaky toys are always a hit with dogs. Check out the new squeaky toys from Hear Doggy that only dogs can hear – genius! Edibles are almost always a crowd pleaser, too. Just be sure the dog you’re buying for doesn’t have any dietary restrictions first.
What’s the best gift you or your dog ever received? When gifting thoughtfully, consider your own experiences and what made them so special and memorable.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – Francis of Assisi