How to Choose Gifts for New Dog Owners
Bringing a new dog home involves a lot of different expenses for the owner. The good news is: this makes gift-giving a cinch if someone you know has recently gotten a new dog or is planning to! You can shop with the owner in mind to make their life easier with less obvious items that they’re sure to be thankful for later (especially if this is their first dog). You can also give them the gift of peace of mind by helping to properly identify and keep track of the dog in order to reduce the risk of it becoming lost. Or you can shop for the dog instead to help ensure that it loves its new home!
Keeping the Dog Happy
Go with dog toys.Dogs love to play with stuffed toys. Keep them engaged by choosing one with a squeaky center that squeals whenever they chomp down on it. Or, give the owner a break from all the noise and pick a simple plush, silent toy. Or, make them both happy and get both types: one for daytime, one for nighttime.
- Dog toys are made from a variety of materials, some of which stand up to constant chewing and tugging much longer than others.
- Stuffed toys may last the shortest. For a longer-lasting gift, go with toys made of rope, rubber, or EVA foam (ethylene vinyl acetate).
Spring for a subscription service.Some dogs love every treat or toy tossed their way, while others can be pretty picky about what they find tasty or fun. Either way, consider signing the owner up for a subscription service that will deliver a new batch of different toys and snacks to sample every month or quarter. Such services include:
Get them a harness for walks.If the owner is attaching the leash directly to the dog’s collar, give them both a break by treating them to a harness to use instead. These slip over the dog’s head and fit around their shoulders, with another tie that goes over their chest, behind their front legs, and then clips into place on the other side to secure it to the dog. These are great because:
- They eliminate the risk of choking when the dog pulls too hard on the leash. Choking is obviously stressful, which can make training and walking more difficult.
- The leash can be attached to their chest instead. This way you can redirect their attention toward you when needed with a gentle, stress-free tug.
- Some designs also allow you to clip the leash to its back in case your dog has very short legs, which might cause them to trip over the leash when its attached to their chest.
Buy them a new bed.New dog owners have lots of different things to buy when bringing home a new dog, and so they may opt for the cheapest option when it comes to the dog’s bed. If so, treat the dog to a higher-end model, since bargain-basement beds are more likely to wear out and grow less comfortable, especially for older dogs with joint issues. Higher-end brands include:
- Big Barker
- Big Shrimpy
- PLAY (Pet Lifestyles and You)
Dress them for the weather.Depending on the climate and the season, the dog may need to suit up before braving the outdoors. Stock their wardrobe with sweaters, jackets, and waterproof raincoats to keep them warm and dry in the cold, snow, and rain. Buy a pack of rubber booties to keep their paws dry, too, while protecting them from rock salt at the same time, which can sting them pretty bad.
- In hotter climates or seasons, springing for a free session at the dog groomers could be an excellent alternative if the dog’s fur grows continually instead of shedding on its own. Such breeds include poodles, shih tzus, and terriers.
- Reflective jackets are a great idea if the dog goes for lots of walks at night, regardless of the season, especially if their coloring is black or very dark.
Making the Owner's Life Easier
Arm them with lots of treats.Whether they’ve brought home a puppy, a rescue with behavioral issues, or even a well-behaved dog learning to respond to a new name, the new owner is likely to burn through lots and lots of treats while training them. So help them out by stocking them up. Give them both low-value and high-value treats that the dog will be excited to work for.
- Kibble and small amounts of regular canned dog food (low-value treats) are perfectly fine for basic training, like “sit,” “down,” and “come.”
- High-value treats, like fresh meat, cheese, peanut butter, or high-quality packaged doggie treats from the store are great rewards for exceptionally good behavior and/or stressful situations, like visits to the vet and cleaner.
- Dogs can sometimes be picky about what they like. Offer a variety so the owner can figure out which ones they respond to the most, as well as identifying any ingredients to steer clear of if the dog has an allergic reaction.
Buy seat covers for the house.Whether the dog sheds a lot or likes to dig through the couch cushions, they can easily dirty up or even destroy furniture. Spare the owner the inconvenience of having to constantly clean or even replace couches and armchairs. Buy them some machine-washable slipcovers to pull over their seating, which can then be easily removed whenever they need cleaning. Brands offering pet-specific seat covers include:
- Elegant Comfort
- Leader Accessories
- Sofa Shield
- Sure Fit
Outfit their car, too.If the owner likes to take the dog on day trips to the park or anywhere else they’re likely to get dirty, get them a machine-washable car seat cover. Ensure a quick cleanup whenever the dog tracks mud into the car or gets car-sick. Buy a hammock-style cover, which can either be hung between the headrests to the front and back seats to form a hammock, or simply hung from the back seat’s headrests and tucked in between the cushions like a regular seat cover. Other gifts for the car could be:
- A seat belt tether and harness, which will keep the dog in the back seat and out of the driver’s way.
- Either a water bottle with a specially-designed cap that doubles as a water bowl, or a regular water bottle and a collapsible water dish.
- A dog-friendly tick and flea spray to keep handy for impromptu romps through the woods.
Think beyond essentials.If the owner appears to be all set with the basics and doesn’t need any items to care for the dog, don’t worry. Celebrate the new addition in their life with gifts that tie in the doggy theme without being directly related to dog-caring. These could be:
- Shirts, jewelry, bags, or other accessories with dog-themed graphics or messages.
- A donation in the owner’s name to their favorite animal shelter or service animal organization.
- A session with a professional photographer specializing in pets.
- A gift card to a pet store for future expenses.
Helping Them Keep Track of their Dog
Customize a dog tag.There’s a good chance the owner has already picked up a dog collar, but even if so, check to see if they also got a dog tag. If not, choose between creating a tag with the dog’s information (which can then be attached to the existing collar), or ordering a customized collar (where the tag is part of the collar itself). This is a good idea even if the dog already has a tag with its name and the owner’s phone number, but lacks other crucial info.
- In addition to the name and phone number, dog tags should indicate any special needs the dog may have, such as “NEEDS MEDS DAILY” or “BLIND & DEAF.” Including such information could help the owner breathe a little easier in the event that the dog gets loose.
- People change phone numbers, too, and may forget to update the dog’s tags to reflect this.
- Dog tags can be created at many pet stores. Customized collars can be ordered online.
Microchip the dog.If the owner hasn’t done this already, offer to pay for having the dog microchipped as a backup to the dog’s tags in case it gets lost and loses it collar. This involves the owner taking it to a vet or animal shelter and having them implant a microchip just below its skin. Then they fill in the corresponding paperwork regarding the pet’s name and special needs, as well as the owner’s contact info. Once completed, this is then submitted to the microchip company’s registry, along with the designated fee.
- Once the dog is microchipped and registered, other vets and animal shelters can scan the chip to find out who the owner is and how to get in touch with them.
- Some companies may only charge an initiation fee. Others may charge a renewal fee to keep the dog registered from year to year.
Buy a GPS tracker.If the owner lets their dog run around off-leash, or if the dog has a flair for escaping, help the owner keep tabs on it even when it’s out of sight. Purchase a collar with a GPS tracker built inside. Enable the owner to locate it through a corresponding app on their smartphone.
Get them a doggy cam.Unless the owner stays at home most of the time and/or brings the dog wherever they go, enable them to keep an eye on things even when they’re out of the house. Decide between a variety of cameras that will allow them to keep tabs on what the dog is up to. Options include:
- One-way cameras like Nest Cam, which allow you to watch over the dog from a smartphone or other device.
- Interactive devices like PetChatz, whose app allows you to calm anxious dogs from afar by emitting calming scents, releasing dog treats, or even interacting with the dog through a video display.
- Dog’s-eye cameras, which can be attached to their collar and played back later.
Video: Top Gifts Your Dog Will Go Crazy For!
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