As a volunteer foster dog home, I get asked all the time about which products I recommend for their dog. From what food we feed our dogs to what do I use to clean our dogs’ ears to what are our dog’s favorite toys.
So, I decided to list all of the dog products we use in our home and why we use each of them.
I will admit, I am the frugal (I like the way that sounds better than cheap) one in the family. I don’t go crazy with purchases, but I do want to keep my dogs happy and healthy.
You will notice, I spend most of my dog budget on food and health products. Our dog toys tend to get reused, read my way of keeping the dog toys fresh and exciting.
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I always order our food, treats, and the occasional toy online at Chewy.com. And I use Amazon for other products such as crates, leashes, etc. If you want to skip all the explaining of why I use and love each of these best dog products head straight to my Amazon Page to see everything I talk about here.
If you’ve never ordered from Chewy.com before, you gotta check them out. They have the best selection, awesome customer service, super quick shipping and they are all about you and your dog! Chewy.com is known for the personal hand-written messages, which shows how much they care about your pets.
Our dog Ginger has food and environment allergies, so our food choices are limited. But because of her allergies, I have really learned how to read dog food labels!
And let me tell you, there are some really junk food type of dog food choices out there. It’s important to read the label of your dog’s food because there are so many unnecessary fillers and additives, it’s almost like if you were to eat fast food everyday… not very healthy.
We chose Zignature brand dog food because they are a limited-ingredient food and I need to know what Ginger is eating. She needs to be on a fish-based diet with no chicken by-products. And once you start reading labels, you will know what I mean… there is chicken in everything! Zignature food has been a life-saver for us. And ordering our dog food from Chewy.com saves us money and time!
Honestly, I think my dogs may eat healthier than we do sometimes! I do add Probonix by Humarian to our dog’s food once a day. Even if you buy super high-quality kibble like we do, our dogs need more. I started adding probiotics to our dog’s food about 5 months ago and I have noticed big changes in their overall health. I recommend NWC Naturals Total-Biotics Probiotic.
Again because of Ginger’s allergies, I had to find limited-ingredient treats. I tried dehydrated fish skins, she didn’t like it, but Bear did. What I did find she likes is Fruitables. They have no protein I need to worry about, with all readable ingredients! I add them to my Chewy.com order each time we need dog food. You can also find them on Amazon. Ginger’s favorite flavor is the pumpkin/bananna Fruitables dog treats.
Rawhides are known to be the junk food of bones, so I stay away from them. If you’ve never seen the video of how they make rawhides, you’ve gotta check it out… you’ll never feed your dog a rawhide again!
We find pure beef bones for Bear and he loves them. Ginger gets the Nylabones – here two favorites are the Nylabone Power Chew Wishbone and the Dura Chew Textured Dog Chew. Both dogs also like these Himalayan Gold Yak Dog Chews.
I will always recommend a leather leash. Nothing else will ever beat the quality of leather. Your dog leash is an investment, get something that will last and that you love.
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I use the LED leash for walking the dogs at night. I get compliments every single time we take a walk. It really keeps us safe and noticeable in the dark.
I don’t have a specific brand I like. Right now, Bear is wearing a Kong brand collar and Ginger is wearing a generic purple collar we found at our local Mounds Pet Store.
Every dog needs to be wearing an ID Tag. You can get these pretty cheap online or in your local pet store.
I always recommend using stainless-steel dog bowls. They are easy to clean and don’t hold bacteria like plastic can. This is another item that is an investment, they will last your entire lifetime. We got the raised feeding station that includes the bowls. We’ve had these longer than I can remember and they are great so your dog doesn’t need to lean over to eat his food.
Dog crates are essential for training, especially if you have a puppy. Some dogs like their crate more than others. Our Ginger sleeps in her crate because she feels safe in there. Bear on the other hand prefers to hang out wherever I am… in my office, on my bed, on the couch. I prefer the wire crates because they are easy to fold and store away when not in use.
We also have a soft-sided crate we use for taking to dog agility. The Elite Field Soft Dog Crate was what we purchased, and we love it.
RECOMMENDED JUST FOR YOU: How to Crate Train Your Dog or Puppy in 3 Easy Steps
The yucky part of owning a dog, you have to pick up his poop. We’ve had the claw type pooper scoopers and I just never like them. Especially if you have big dogs, it’s hard to pick up that big of a pile of poop with it.
I opt for the rake and shovel type of pooper scooper. We just had to buy another one because someone stole ours at a hotel we stayed at this summer… can you believe it.. stole a pooper scooper. I’m guessing they really must have needed it more than we did.
If your dog will sleep in his own bed, great. We have two pillow type dog beds and neither dog will sleep in them. I use the dog beds right now for when I use the Place Command. But I’m thinking of buying the raised platform beds instead.
We use baby gates to separate our foster dogs from resident dogs for 48 hours. We also use the baby gates to keep the foster dogs from wandering around the entire house. I always keep a close eye of fosters since they are in an unfamiliar house, accidents seem to happen all too often. I recommend using a gate anytime you have a new dog or puppy.
Training can be somewhat of a controversial subject in the dog world. Everyone has their own methods and theories. So you may not like my tools, which is totally fine. But these are what has been recommended to us by our dog trainers and work for our family.
Again, we really like the Fruitable Dog Treats. But we’ve also used many other natural treats. The important thing is to always read the ingredient labels. Stay away from animal by-products.
A long line is a great training tool for recall training. It’s just long enough for the dog to feel like he’s free and long enough for you to be able to grab and pull the dog back into you.
The prong collar is very a controversial training tool. I will admit, prior to a few years ago, I assumed the prong collar was for aggressive out-of-control dogs. But after attending a training seminar, I realized what a great training tool the prong collar really can be for any dog. If you have a dog that pulls when on leash, the prong collar is a life-changer. I only recommend using the Herm Sprenger Prong, this is one case when all brands are not created equal.
RECOMMENDED JUST FOR YOU: The Prong Collar, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Another controversial training tool that has helped us tremendously with Ginger’s resource guarding issues. The Pet Convincer is just a handheld air compressor to alert the dog, nothing harmful about it.
RECOMMENDED JUST FOR YOU: Why use the Pet Convincer.
Many people don’t agree with using the bark collar as a training tool either. I’ve never had to use one until we had our foster dog Mocha. She would bark in the crate anytime I had to leave, and she wouldn’t just bark for 5 minutes and stop. She would bark for hours.
I don’t recommend using it daily. But with Mocha, this bark collar worked so well the first time we used it. The way I look at it is this: is it crueler to let your dog bark for hours until she has lost her voice, or teach her in less than 5 minutes so she can relax the rest of the time.
RECOMMENDED JUST FOR YOU: How Can I Stop My Dog From Barking All of the Time?
This is a big one in our house because of Ginger’s allergies, she gets frequent ear infections. Keeping them clean is important. The only ear cleaner I found to work, and trust me we’ve tried a lot, is Eco Ears by Vet Organics.
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We’ve gone through a rotation of dog brushes. Haven’t found one that we are head over heels about yet. But we have tried the glove, a standard wire brush, and this rubber brush. My favorite so far is the rubber brush because it is so soft and easy to use.
I will be the first to admit, I am terrible at brushing our dog’s teeth. I know we should be brushing them daily, but I just can never get it into our routine. When we do brush, we use the Arm and Hammer dog toothpaste with a dog toothbrush.
Cutting our dogs nails is not a fun experience. I am able to cut Bears nails without any issues. But Ginger hates getting her nails trimmed. I’ve tried taking her to the vet to have them trimmed and the stress is through the roof. So, I do them at home, one paw at a time.
I’ve tried the Dremel and in theory, it should work great, and I’ve heard many others have great success with it. I bought it and my dogs couldn’t get used to the sound. Admittedly, I could have spent more time desensitizing them to it.
I found that basic nail trimmers are easiest to use. Not the clippers that have a slider, but the nail clippers that look more like scissors and have a safety guard.
We’ve tried several different brands of shampoo. We bathe our dogs frequently during the summer months because they swim at the dog park and reek of lake water. I have two favorites, the Jax and Daisy dog shampoo, and Isle of Dogs Silky Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs.
I first tried the Jax and Daisy shampoo because of Ginger’s allergies. It really works great to soothe her itchy skin. But it is also great just for a soft and fresh smelling dog.
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A couple years ago, Bear cut open his paw pads at the dog park. I found Mushers Secret and just love this stuff. It protects our dog’s paw pads in the summer and winter. The dogs actually like it, although it’s a challenge to get them to not lick it off or get up and walk around the house immediately after applying it.
Our lab, Bear, is a tennis ball addict. He could play for hours if we let him. The family we adopted him from made sure to send him with his Chuckit Launcher because it is hands down his favorite toy of all time. We also received a bag of tennis balls from a friend after dog-sitting for them.
This big orange ball is another of Bears favorites. My daughter will go out and play soccer with Bear with this ball. She challenges herself to see if she can get the ball past Bear… it’s awesome to watch them play together.
This frisbee has been put through the ringer between Ginger and Bear. Ginger isn’t much of a fetch playing dog. But she does love to try and steel Bear’s toys. So we throw the Nerf Flyer to Bear and Ginger tackles him and the Nerf holds up to its name. The first one we had for a good 9 months, the second one we still have a year later.
My husband bought the Kong frisbee on a whim. He was looking for something that would be a little softer on Bears mouth. Because he plays so hard, he was concerned the other frisbee would hurt his mouth.
It’s pretty flimsy and I admit I was skeptical, but it does fly well and Bear can fit the whole thing in his mouth. But hands down, this is one of Bears favorite toys!
Every dog should have a Kong of his own, seriously! It’s a great chew toy for power chewers. And awesome for crate time, simply putting some peanut butter inside the Kong and the dog will be entertained for hours. This is a go-to for a lot of the foster families in our group.
Our dog Ginger loves to play tug. So much so, my daughter started making her own. She now sells the tug toys she makes on Etsy. Check them out, we donate 50% of our profits to a local dog rescue and the other 50% is going directly into her college fund.
Playing tug of war with your dog is a great way to bond and have fun at the same time.
Puzzles are a great activity to do with your dog on the days you just can’t get outside. My daughter will play for hours with Ginger on these puzzles. They both really enjoy the mental challenge and it’s another great way to bond with your dog. The two that we purchased are: Flip Board Strategy Game and the Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Toy Puzzle. Our next one will be the Snuffle Mat, it looks like so much fun and I know Ginger and Bear will go crazy for this one!
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Whew, I think I’ve covered everything we own for our dogs. Now that I’ve gone through everything, I guess we have more than I thought! Who said owning a dog isn’t expensive, haha! And in some high-tech luxury items and you can get into the thousands really quick.
I like shopping on Amazon for some toys and grooming supplies. I use Chewy.com for food… because anytime we step foot in Mounds Pet Store, we buy way more than just food! And I will occasionally shop at the local pet shops for fun and to find something unique.
And if you are wondering about the high-tech dog products… I don’t personally own any so I did not include it in this list. But you can see more at Top 13 High-Tech Dog Toys and Gadgets.
Debi McKee is the mom of Ginger and Bear (and three human kids too), lifetime dog lover and a volunteer for a rescue as foster home. She is the creator of Rescue Dogs 101, were she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. Sign up for the free resource library! It is jam-packed with valuable resources that you will use throughout your journey.... all for FREE!