Canine Christmas Gifts with a Training Twist

Let’s face it, our dogs usually get the best Christmas gifts because why not?  They deserve it!  For every five dollars I spend on people gifts, I usually spend triple or more on canine Christmas gifts.  My husky has boxes and boxes of toys, various puzzles, and so much more, and I’m always on the hunt for the latest products out there. For Christmas 2022, I’ve pulled together a list of the best gifts I can recommend as a dog trainer.  These will help your dog have fun, cure potential problem behaviors, and train your dog.  You’ll also get to know your dog better and find your pup if they get away from you.  As you start your shopping, you don’t want to miss these items!

Slow Feeder Dishes and other Enrichment Items

Do you have a voracious eater who scarfs his/her food down in three seconds flat?  Check out slow feeder dishes like the ones Outward Hound, KONG, Nina Ottenson, or LickiMat produce.  They come in several different shapes that you can put your dog’s food in.  Some are little puzzle mazes, others are your typical KONG shape, and still others are small mats you can spread yogurt, cheese or other snacks on.  When it comes to meal time, letting your dog work for his/her dinner meets a basic instinctual need.  All dogs were born to forage and whenever we can give them opportunities to mimic that need, we are helping them grow and develop good habits, plus it requires them to use their brains, which is an excellent form of mental stimulation.  A mentally stimulated dog is a dog that doesn’t need to take their boredom out on your furniture, garden, or other areas he/she shouldn’t be in.

Outward Hound Food Puzzle
Classic Kong
Kong Wobbler

This timed treat ball is a life saver for the pet parent who has to work 8 hours a day while Fido stays at home.  Many dogs who are home alone get bored and start to chew on things they shouldn’t.  The Foobler has six compartments you can put small treats or kibble in and then set the timer for 15, 30, 60, or 90 minutes.  Set it up and head to work knowing that each time it dings, your pup will have a toy to roll around the house releasing his favorite bits of food.  And the best part, after he/she has played for a while, it’s back to nap time!  This toy will help keep your pets busy during the day, keep their mind stimulated, and can help Fido feel more comfortable hanging out alone. 

TRActive, Whistle, or other Pet GPS

We’ve all seen the social media posts.  “My dog got out of my yard and hasn’t come home”, or “My kids forgot to close the gate and Fluffy ran off.”  Put an end to the terror of a lost pet by getting a pet GPS.  There are many different brands. You should research before purchasing, but once you find one that suits your needs, go with it and don’t look back.  If the unthinkable happens, you can grab your phone and it will guide you to your pet.  No pup should be without one! Through my research, I have found the Tractive brand to be the best priced (much cheaper than others) with the same functionality as others.

Taste Test Party

Material gifts are great, but if you want a fun family activity, download our Reinforcement Worksheet, gather several different types of treats and toys and have a taste/toy test party with your dog!  Rate each treat/toy and then compile the top ten in order of how much goodness your dog has for each.  This is your list of treats you can use for dog training!  Use lower value treats when you are teaching them behaviors such as “leave it” to make it easier for them when they are first starting, but use high value treats when you are teaching behaviors such as “Come” because you want them to leave that squirrel for the savory taste and smell of whatever they love the most. And don’t forget to get a clicker to go with those treats!

If you want some great freeze dried treats, visit https://www.figandtyler.com/ and use code MT0920 at checkout for 10% off your first order. 

Lili Chin’s Doggie Language Book

Okay, this one is more for the humans, but your dog will thank you!  Our dog’s communicate through body language.  Every pet owner can recognize some of these (can we say, potty dance?), but did you know something as small as an ear flick, a lip lick, or a yawn can mean something totally different than what you thought?  And that wagging tail?  That doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is happy.  Grab a copy of this pocket sized book and start studying the little drawings Lili Chin has put together.  You will learn how to communicate with your dog, what may be stressing him/her out, and it will help you be a better pet owner for your pup! 

Puppy Start Right

The Christmas puppy!  Are you getting a puppy or thinking about getting a puppy?  Stop right there and check out this book.  If you have any interest in training or how a dog learns, you do not want to go without this book as a companion and a reference to a new puppy.  In fact, this, along with the Lili Chin book above, is the book I recommend to every client of mine who has a puppy or is thinking about getting one.  I would even go as far as to recommend getting this book BEFORE you adopt a new friend.  It is full of photos on how to train, how to set your pup/s up for success so they don’t have behavior issues later on, what to watch out for and more.  Not only should every breeder out there have a copy, but pet owners should too! This is another tried and true reference that your dog will thank you for later.

For more product and enrichment ideas, including basic DIY ideas using items around your home, visit https://trainingtoat.com/enrichment-ideas/

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