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Dog Stuff Recommendations
05.11.19
I have two wonderful rescue dogs and I wanted to share all the various items that we’ve grown to use (and often love) in case it’s helpful for other dog parents. 
 
Harness [link]
More people ask us about our harnesses than anything else. I’m not sure why — maybe it’s because it looks particularly robust, which it is. I first got it because Pop Tart has a slightly unusual body and he was able to get out of other harnesses. This harness is adjustable in two places (neck and body) and that’s a huge benefit.
 
The leash can also be adjusted in 3 places: a normal place up top, on the bottom (which helps with walking / tugging), and there’s a handle area up top which I find very useful too. I sometimes use the handle when I’m picking up the dogs, but this is also where I attached the harness when they’re in their dog car seat — it just gives them a little more mobility while still being attached.
 
Leash [link]
I love these dog leashes and have three of them. Particularly nice at the handle. Main downside is they definitely fray over time. I clean them up with a scissor, but there’s a non-trivial amount of fraying. Not sure if there’s any sort of solution beyond replacing them every year or two, but otherwise they’re terrific.
 
Collar [link]
Pretty straightforward and I’m sure lots of collars would work, but this is the brand we use and like.
 
Whistle [link]
The dogs have this little GPS device on their harness. I wish it was a tad smaller, but it still attaches snugly on their harness. In the app, you can see the location of the GPS device (and presumably your dog if he/she is wearing the harness). It takes a moment or two to update -- but that's probably not a huge deal if you're trying to find your dog. Presumably you just need to know ballpark where he/she is. Probably overkill for us, but just in case of emergency.
 
It also essentially doubles as a dog fitbit, so you can see how much exercise they have gotten — which is actually a huge benefit. I can keep track of how much exercise they’ve gotten and when they went out. 
 
It does require a subscription (monthly or annual) so that’s a little bit of a bummer, but understandable.
 
Poop Bags [link]
I know what you’re thinking. They’re plastic bags — why not just buy the cheapest ones possible? Well, these bags are really well made (I’ve had plastic bags that occasionally break/tear and trust me, that’s the last thing you want to have happen when you’re picking up poop) and are slightly easier to open — which may not sound like a big deal, but it's a bummer if you’re constantly struggling with getting a plastic bag to open. 
 
Vet / VCA + VCA Hospital
Our vet is with VCA — she’s terrific and the whole system has been terrific / very fair. We’ve also used their hospital for an emergency and frankly, I found their hospital to be better than a human hospital. Pretty easy to schedule, runs on time, very knowledgeable, and fair policies. We’re also enrolled in their CareClub program (annual fee in exchange for covering annual exam, additional visits, vaccinations, teeth cleaning, etc.) 
 
Grooming
For years I would take my boys to various groomers. Jack would need a cut while Pop Tart only would need a bath. Most places you can also get their nails cut then too, which is helpful. (sometimes included, sometimes optional) It definitely adds up though. I think it varies widely, but grooming for a dog Jack’s size (around 15 lbs) is about $60 and just a bath is $30. Throw in a tip and it’s about $110 for the two of them. 
 
To both save time and money, I then started bathing them myself, and eventually, I started cutting Jack’s hair myself. I don’t use any special pair of scissors, and I was very bad at first, but I’ve gotten good enough that Jack has actually gotten compliments on his haircut! There’s also the added advantage that anytime he needs to just be freshened up a little bit, it’s just a few minutes. No need to an appointment, drive him somewhere, then come home, wait for him to be done, drive back, etc.
 
However, even then, I would still bring the boys to Healthy Spot to get their nails cut / grinded. That would be $15/dog. But, once again, to both save time and money — I know grind their nails myself. Also, just a convenience thing in the sense that sometimes their nails get a little sharp, it’s nice to be able to just quickly grind them down without needing to bring them anywhere.
 
Shampoo [link]
We love this shampoo — smells great / works great.
 
Toothpaste + Toothbrush [link]
I don’t know if I have strong feelings on this dog toothpaste — but we use it and we like it.
 
I have a couple of toothbrushes — I don’t feel super strongly about them. However, I would highly recommend brushing your dog’s teeth. The boys get an annual teeth cleaning (which for dogs is super expensive) — but even beyond that, just by frequent brushings, I can see such an improvement in their teeth and gums. This is, of course, a pain, and the dogs don’t like it, but after a few times, it became at least for me, manageable. I put a daily reminder to brush their teeth and I end up brushing their teeth probably 3-4x/week, which is still less than ideal, I think (we humans brush our teeth 2x/day and floss, etc.). But 3-4x/week is obviously a vast improvement over never and an annual cleaning (and I get a cleaning 3x/year).
 
Grinder [link]
My dogs aren’t fans of this, but after a few times, they’re tolerant. The grinder is just a little motor with a circular sandpaper like item that you apply to the nail. I keep it at a pretty low speed and have touched it — no problem. The first time I did it, I didn’t go very far just to make sure I didn’t hit the quick (I think if you hit the quick, then there’s bleeding). But now I’ve gotten pretty good at it and at least to me, you can see inside the nail and have a decent idea of when you’re getting close to the quick. 
 
I totally get if this is not something a newer dog owner would want to do, but it’s a big convenience once you learn how to do it. With two dogs, it literally paid for itself the first time I used it. 
 
Food [link]
I’m vegetarian so I prefer my dogs to eat vegetarian as well. We love Halo — there aren’t a lot of veggie dog food options, but this one has turned out quite well. When my dogs switched from a regular diet to a veggie diet, I did immediately notice an improvement in their poop by the way. 
 
Greenies [link]
Hands down their favorite dog treat. I don’t know about the “dental” aspect of them (the dogs for sure still need their teeth and gums brushed) — I think it’s the equivalent of a human chewing some sort of item or candy to improve their “dental” help — at best marginal. But as a treat? A+
 
Other treats (Fruitables) [link]
Another treat they like (and also useful for training b/c they’re small, don’t really smell, and you can bring a bunch with you in a plastic bag in your pocket) is Fruitables. 
 
Dog Car Seat [link]
Fantastic. Please please please don’t have your dog just roaming around in your car — it’s dangerous for the dog in case of an accident and dangerous for you. (I was rear ended once by a man who told me he got distracted by his dog.)
 
Easy to install (or remove) — just uses a seatbelt and you can clip your dog in via a harness.
 
 
OTHER
Wags & Walks [link]
Both my dogs were rescued by a wonderful organization called Wags & Walks -- I've gotten to know them, their founder, and their employees over the years and think they're great. They also do a wonderful job of finding family friendly dogs. For those not in Los Angeles, I believe they'll work with you if you're not nearby.
 
Audiobooks for Dogs [link]
If I'm going to be gone for more than a few minutes, I usually play an audiobook for my dogs. These are all chosen by Cesar Milan. I'm sure this seems like crazy behavior and I can't for sure say it has an impact on them, but the first few times I used it, it sure seemed like my dogs were calmer when I returned home. Whether it still has a positive impact, I'm not sure. For a while, I subscribed to DogTV (a $5 add-on channel on DirecTV) which seemed to have a similar, initial calming impact. Recently, a friend told me that her friend, who just got a dog, uses DogTV and swears by it. 
 
One of the added benefits of these Audible books is they're real books too -- so if you listen to audio books, odds are decent you can find something that you can play for your dogs while you're away and also to listen to yourself at some point :)
 
 
 
Finally, if you're interested in seeing Jack and Pop Tart, my instagram feed is mainly just photos of them :) [link]

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