Friday Favorites: {Guest Post by Maura}

Friday, March 22, 2013

Maura is a library science student and library paraprofessional in Washington, D.C. who originally hails from Colorado. She  enjoys walking her dogs, pretending to do P90X, cheering for the Colorado Buffaloes, and watching too much TV. She blogs about random stuff at Dogby.
Full disclosure: I’m obsessed with my dogs, Digby, a chihuahua-rottweiler-brussels griffon mix, and Olive, a bull terrier-shih tzu-yorkie-who-knows-what-else mix*. While I’m not an expert on ownership, care, and training of canines, I have been a dog-owner for over a year and have figured out some of my favorite items that I'm happy to share with you.

A harness (for walks or all the time)
I think a harness is essential for any dog-owner, but especially if you have small dogs. Their necks are a lot more delicate and you risk a serious injury if your dogs pull too much on a collar, or are accidentally pullled/jerked by you. Harnesses are great for bigger dogs as well, they can still be injured by a collar, although it’s not as easy. One of my friends has a border collie/lab mix and she uses a harness for him when they go for walks. Some people use a harness for walking and a collar to hold tags, we opted to just use the harness and leave it on almost all the time. I think if we had a place with a yard we might use collars and then only put the harness on for walks, but when you’re going out at least three times a day, it’s nice to have one less thing to wrestle with. I really like mesh harnesses (we use Gooby, but I’ve heard good things about Puppia) because Digby is bald on his belly and has sensitive skin. The mesh harness avoids any chaffing and irritation that might occur with a nylon webbing variety. 

Leash/Leash splitter
I use a traditional nylon webbing leash. (Isn’t the lime green great? I think I need that. We just have the boring brown one.) Personally, I don’t like retractable leashes for a couple reasons: one, Digby pulls like a maniac, so that would just make it worse since he would be rewarded for pulling (he gets more leash, rather than being controlled by the static length of the traditional leash); for another, I get nervous when I see a dog on a retractable leash nearby and their owner seems to make no effort to control their dog, which means I don’t know if they are going to run up and upset my dogs** or they are totally in control and are going to mind their own business. It could be either or something different, and that makes me nervous. I think in dense areas with a lot of dog-owners (like my building/neighborhood) it’s more courteous to have your dog under some semblance/appearance of control. When I walk both of our dogs together, I like to use a leash splitter so that I only have to hold onto one leash (although I always bring an extra with me in case of an emergency). This also helps keep Digby from going totally wild because Olive is heavier and stronger than him, so she keeps him in check.

Sturdibag carrier
I’m totally codependent on my dogs. So whenever we travel, I have to bring them with me. The sturdibag carrier is awesome for car or in-flight travel because it’s easy to carry (lots of strap options) and comfortable for the pooches (plus there is a mesh panel on top so that I can look down at them from above). When we travel by air with the dogs the sturdibag functions as our carry-on item and sits under the seat in front of us. The flexing top allows them to maneuver a little easier under the seat (Olive’s is technically too tall to go under the seat, but the flexing makes it work just fine). When I have traveled solo with Digby, and encountered other people traveling with their pets, they always remark on what a great carrier the sturdibag is compared to theirs, ha!
Zukes Mini-Naturals treats
Really, any tiny treat works great for training and rewards (and spoiling your dog). I like Zukes because they are made in Durango, CO (holla!), they are really small (great for small mouths) and easy to split apart (because they obviously could be smaller?). They are also pretty low calorie and my dogs seem to love them, even when they get sort of hard and stale. We’ve tried all of the varieties except for peanut butter (my husband claims to be allergic) and the dogs love all of them. They’re easy to throw in my pocket for walks or my bag when we go on longer trips (sometimes they get loose, but if you’re like me, you don’t really mind the doggy scent in your pockets or purse).

Chew toys (nylabones, kongs, and ropes)
Digby is a pretty serious chewer. If I’m not careful, he will chew up my shoes, clothes, or books (all of these have actually happened). I try to be vigilant about not leaving stuff out when the dogs are unsupervised, and I also have a bunch (seriously, too many) chew toys for them to gnaw to their hearts desire. Olive doesn’t usually get in on the action much (and definitely not when anyone is watching) but she has been known to enjoy a nylabone occasionally and also likes her kong (with some wet food inside of course). Digby especially loves nylabones, his kong, and rope toys. I have to keep an eye on him with the ropes though, because once the fibers break and they start to unravel I have to take them away because he’ll just straight up eat the rope then (which is both dangerous and kind of gross). Chew toys are great because it gives my dogs something constructive to do and they help tire them out so they will be calmer and happier.
And there you have it, my favorite doggy things! Any other pet-owners out there? What products are your favorites? Also, if you have questions about airline travel with pets or want me to start waxing poetic about my pups, feel free to email me at dogbyblog[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks Miranda for having me as a guest on your blog.

*My husband and I are nerds and got DNA tests on both of our dogs because I wanted to know what they were exactly (unfortunately, Olive is so mixed, they could only determine half of her lineage). If you are also a nerd, I highly recommend this! The tests are cheek swabs, so fairly easy, and also fairly inexpensive (about $50). I’m not sure why I didn’t put this as a favorite, because it's obviously great... so, bonus?

** Well, actually my dog would probably upset it—Digby gets nervous which turns into aggression with strange dogs. He has snapped at enough dogs on the street for me to realize that a: people don’t appreciate that even if it’s harmless and b: it’s easier to avoid unknown situations with strange dogs than wonder if Digby’s going to pick a fight.

1 comments:

  1. I totally just picked up those Zuke's treats this week on a whim, and my dogs LOVE them. My husband left the bag on the back of the couch and my hound chewed through the bag and ate the entire thing. Oops!

    We recently bought some Nina Ottosson toys for them (see Amazon.com) and my rat terrier would love nothing more than to play fetch with one of the rubbery "chuck-it" balls all day. Other favorites include Kong stuffed with small treats and plugged with peanut butter, tug-o-war ropes, soft toys with the water bottle inside, and the Kong Wubba (great if your dog loves squeakers but will tear open a stuffed animal with squeaker).

    Now I definitely want to do the DNA test because we know one dog has coonhound and one has rat terrier, but not sure what either is mixed with.

    Great post!

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