We don't celebrate our pet's birthdays, the anniversary we rescued them or anything else. We are not prone to giving our dog or our cat holiday gifts of any kind. Sure, we spoil them with lots of love and they have a few treasured toys but that's just not how we roll.
Some people I know (well, two in particular... you know who you are) have houses full of pet toys. A neighbor's house is so full of toys that my cat loves to visit. In fact, they turned me (my cat, really) onto the cat nip cigars. (Shameless plug but if you haven't seen the video of our cat with his cigar, take a look: Jet Loves His Cat Nip Cigar).
Our dog is a strong chewer. We visited a friend recently whose house was littered with dog toys. Frosty thought we landed on the North Pole. She tore through several toys, shredding them into little pieces, before we realized what was happening. Yikes. Those plush toys don't work for us.
Here's what does:
Durable Dog Toys
Since Frosty is such a strong chewer, KONG toys are the best for her. Made of durable rubber, these dog toys are great for physical and mental stimulation. Many professionals recommend KONGs to help prevent separation anxiety, boredom or other dog behavior problems. A hard rubber toy stuffed with treats or a smear of peanut butter keeps our dog occupied for a while. And chewing on a KONG is supposed to improve an animal's oral health. She loves them.
Upgraded Dog Bed
Where does your dog sleep? A new dog bed makes a great gift because it's something that your dog will use for a long time. Watch your dog to see how he/she sleeps. Try and determine what type of bed fits your pup's sleeping patterns. Our dog likes a soft, pillow-like bed she can nestle into and feel secure. Older dogs may need extra support and benefit from a sturdier foam bed or a trampoline style dog bed.
Improved Dog Bowls
New water and food bowls make a perfect gift for pets. Some of my friends like whimsical, fashionable or seasonal theme pet bowls but we don't do that. We recently got elevated dog bowls for our dog and our cat. Most elevated bowls are made from stainless steel, ceramic or plastic and fit into a raised stand. Experts consider elevated pet bowls healthier and more comfortable for your animals. That’s all I need to know.
Professional Dog Training Classes
Group obedience training classes or agility classes are a terrific gift and a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your dog. Whatever level of obedience training your dog has reached, group classes will provide socialization, stimulation and an opportunity to further strengthen your connection. Formal dog training programs offer many social, mental and behavioral benefits. Our dog was rescued from an abusive situation so she needed lots of positive socialization and stimulation. In our experience, group classes made a world of difference.
Donations In Your Pet's Honor
This is my favorite thing to do for our pets. Most animal shelters and rescue organizations run entirely on the generosity of donors and through surrender and adoption fees. Think about it, animal shelters offer humane housing and care for unwanted, stray, abused and neglected pets. Cash is always needed but your local animal shelter may have other items on their wish list. Many rescue organizations need pet food, towels and blankets, old cell phones, office equipment and/or your time. Whenever we have old blankets or towels, our local shelters are happy to have them. We also volunteer to feed and play with the animals and walk dogs. Consider making a donation to a shelter or animal rescue organization in your pet's name.
The next time you want to give your dog a gift, try something other than another stuffed teddy bear.