Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let's Get Started: A Few of My Favorites

  I believe it is always best to start with the positive, so here are a few of my favorite products on the canine market today:

1. JW Pet Company Hol-ee Roller 

      This toy is as wonderful as it is simple and can work for any dog that loves to tug, fetch, chase, and throw.  This is far and away Cassie's favorite thing in the world (next to chicken).  It is pretty much indestructible, flies through the air, has just enough heft to be a something fun to carry around (for the dog, not for you).  More practically, it's easy to clean and comes in a number of sizes, colors and styles.  It is an essential part of my dog's life and I think yours will love it too.

2. Tuffy's Ultimate Ring Dog Toy

         Tuffy's products are always one to recommend for strong chewers and this ring is no exception.  Cassie has had the same one since she was a puppy (and Daddy still harbored hopes of her ditching agility for Disc Dog).  It flies just like a regular frisbee, but is soft on the mouth.  It stands up to the strongest chewers and the hole in the middle provides an added way for the dog to carry the ring back to you.  Unlike a regular frisbee it is soft on both mouths and hands and it bends when someone runs into Mommy's leg.  It also has a couple of squeakers thrown in, so you can get your dogs attention during play or it can be used to encourage dogs who don't normally play with frisbees to bite and squeak a disc shape.  However, like a frisbee it flies far and fast, can be used for tugging and can be thrown as a target for the dog to begin practicing tricks like flips, air spins and over the back jumps.  The only draw back for this toy is that the fuzzy material does get very muddy and can be a bit hard to keep clean.  I put mine in the washer and though the squeaker faired alright, there was some residual water in them.

3. Premier Easy Walk Harness

     I would not be able to survive walking four miles a day without the Easy Walk by Premier.   Aussies are strong pullers and in order to save her neck as a puppy I put Cassie on the Easy Walk at the suggestion of one of my trainers.  After a little help from a clerk at my local Petsmart in properly fitting the harness, Cassie took to it almost immediately and became much more manageable both on walks and in class.  At a year old, we are now transitioning to a martingale collar and guess what: she still doesn't pull.  I still take the Easy Walk when we are going to be somewhere that I need more control: shopping centers, parks, places with kids, and hiking.  It offers that extra assurance that she won't be able to wiggle loose and I can keep her close without putting any strain on her neck or throat.  
    I will offer a few caveats:  Sizing and fit are both very important with the Easy Walk.   If you size too small you risk causing discomfort and irritation.  Whereas, if you size too big or do not adjust the fit properly the Easy Walk will become too loose to do its job and you risk your dog getting free.  Luckily, the gods at Premier seem to have recognized these issues and offer a very wide range of sizes, though only small, medium and large are commonly available in stores like Petsmart and Petco.  Cassie now falls into what is called a "tweener" size, which I've had to order through Amazon both times (I left her unattended once and came back to find she had chewed through the first one: this was my fault not the Easy Walk's).

4. Dogswell Vitality for Dogs
    I use a wide variety of treats for our dogs and I've tried even more.  When I want a packaged treat that is easy to come by and isn't going to cost the moon I turn to Dogswell Vitality (which is just a dehydrated chicken breast).  Cassie and Lilly both seem to love this and it makes a great everyday treat (Tobey doesn't really like it, but then I am starting to wonder if he is a vegetarian).  I take it to training and use it when I think Cassie has already had too much string cheese.  It comes in strips that make it more convenient to transport, but must be broken up into smaller pieces prior to training as it can become a bit fiddly.  I mostly use it around the house for training or good girl biscuits.   I like that it has such a high chicken content and that it also offers some essential oils, but most of all I just like how much the dogs seem to like it.   The fact that it's real chicken means that is has a pleasing smell even for humans (not something I can often say of the smelly treats my dogs enjoy) and it is very clean on the hands leaving no bad smells or residue.  If you carry it around in your pockets like I do for training you will find chicken dust in your pockets, but that is true of almost all treats that have to be broken up.  Cassie likes these much better than any flavor of Zukes (which I'm sure I'll get to in another post), though the Vitality does loose out to fresh cooked chicken (sorry Dogswell).   
   Vitality can be conviently purchased at Target, though I haven't seen it at Petsmart of Petco yet.  It can also be found online at Amazon.

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