New Dog Ownership Guide & 6 Essentials for Their Pampering

From time to time, The Good Stuff Unlimited will highlight a guest writer to help us share different perspectives on their, well, Good Stuff!  We can thank these key members of the Good Stuff Unlimited Community enough and we hope you'll enjoy their contribution.  For this post, we've asked Cassie V. to share her journey as a newbie dog owner and what items have helped her become an old pro dog lover!

By Cassie V., Guest Writer

I used to roll my eyes when couples without kids would say “we are getting a puppy - it will be good training for a kid!” As I had young kids at the time, I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me. No way!” Flash forward to when I had older kids and we got a puppy and I realized just how wrong (and smug) I had been. I was totally out of my league when we brought our puppy home and began buying anything I could find to help with playing, teething, boredom, sleeping, etc.

I was back to being a sleep-deprived new parent who was suckered into anything and everything just to get a break. As there are a million items on the market for dogs, it was overwhelming to say the least.  I often ordered things while taking him out for a middle-of-the-night potty, and when the box arrived I couldn't even remember what was in it. 

 Over time I realized that not only were there toys for different ages and stages, but also situations.  Did I buy adult teething toys for my puppy? Check. Did I use puppy toys for my 1 year-old aggressive chewer? You bet. Did I sink toys that weren't meant for the water? Naturally. Worst of all, though, were the rainy days when my super-active GoldenDoodle needed exercise (and more exercise!) and I was a bit stuck. 

With that in mind, The Good Stuff Unlimited has created this guide to share some of our suggestions for snuggly items, care products, chews and toys for your lovable furry family member, based on the adventures of my dog and his now-wiser parent. 

1) Snuggly Items - Who Doesn’t Love to Relax and Cuddle?

A few soft and snuggly items can go a long way to ease puppy anxiety and help them feel calmer.  Hands-down our dog’s favorite item since Day 1 has been the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy. The heartbeat feature (now removed) can be set for 8 hours and it helped him relax in his crate when he was little. He still sleeps with Snuggle Puppy and it’s the one stuffed toy he chews gently. The Furrybaby Premium Fluffy Fleece Dog blanket was another key item in his crate or when he was relaxing with us at night. I rubbed the blanket all over my arms and neck and even wore it as a scarf for a while to get my scent on it. He is now over 1 year-old and it’s still in his crate.  The Houndgames Doggy Play Mat was a great mat to place on the couch or floor and allows your furry family member to snuggle and chew at the same time. Win-win!  Our cat even liked to lie on it.  

2) Grooming 

Since you can’t always bathe your pup after a day of fun, try the Earthbath All Natural Hypoallergenic Grooming Wipes followed by Buddy Splash Relaxing Spritzers to help your furry friend unwind after some outside play.   When our dog was older, and doing a lot more walking around the neighborhood, we began to rub Musher’s Secret Paw Wax a few nights a week on his tired paws before bed. 

3) Soft Stuff For Dogs to Chew 

If only dogs spent most of their time relaxing, the items above would be enough, but let’s face it, many hours are spent in play!  (Trying of course to tire out your pup). We’ve had a ton of fun with the ZippyPaws - Woodland Friends Burrow. This was a game-changer for our family when our dog was a puppy and we are on our second one. The log kept our hands safe from sharp puppy teeth and he loved to jump, grab, and pull the squirrels out.  He still loves it!  We also hang on to the tails from inside the log, making the play last even longer.  And it’s great to stuff all kinds of other soft tug toys in the holes to keep it exciting, such as:

Vitscan Stuffless Dog Toys,
ZippyPaws - Skinny Peltz No Stuffing Squeaky Plush Dog Toys,
Jalouise 5 Pack Dog Squeaky Toys, and 
Aipper Dog Puppy Toys 12 Pack.

NOTE: We can’t leave our dog alone with any of these anymore as he will shred them pretty quickly, but they make for great interactive play-time!  So, be careful to observe how your dog handles these and consider removing them when you are not with them.  

4) Stuff Your Dog Can REALLY Sink Their Teeth Into

There are a lot of great chew toys that are a bit harder as well and our pup loved to lie and chew on items such as Nylabone's line of products:

Nylabone Small Puppy Teether and Tug Toy,
- Nylabone Puppy Chew Ring Bone & Toy,
- Nylanbone Dental Kit for Small Puppies, and
- Nylabone Just for Puppies Extra Small Pacifier Bone

Probably the most indestructible brand we’ve found is Kong.  Our dog started with the Puppy Toy Natural Teething Rubber which can be stuffed with any number of little treats and even frozen to extend the fun.  He moved up their line as he grew - Kong Classic Dog Toy (small, then medium and finally "extreme").  Kong even makes treats such as: 

Kong Real Peanut Butter Tube (I spread this on the bathtub wall every time and it makes bathing easy!),
- Kong Classic & Easy Peanut Butter,
- Kong Peanut Butter Easy Treats,
- Kong Bacon & Cheese Treats,
- Kong Stuff N Mini Liver Snaps,  and
- Kong Ziggies Teeth Cleaning Dog Treats, Chicken Flavor.  

As your dog grows, rope toys are great options for interactive play and for when your dog is alone. While the toys do wear out after a while, our dog has yet to destroy any of them!  Check out these options:

- BK Products Toy Set,
- Otterly Pets Puppy Dog Pet Rope Toys,
- Blueisland Durable Dog Chew,
- Pacific Pups Rope Toys for Aggressive Chewers, and
- Multipet Knots Ball

Rope toys make for great chewing options to keep your dog busy and their teeth cleaner. 

Speaking of teeth, the Good Stuff knows dogs love to sink their teeth into anything related to antlers!  You will want to make sure to get one that is big enough so your dog won’t swallow it and talk to your vet about split-antler (which is softer) vs non-split and elk vs deer.  Our dog is still on the split-antler option, Ellkhorn Premium Chew X-Largeand he is over 1 years-old now.  We recently discovered Petstages Deerhorn Wooden Dog Chew and it’s been a huge hit.  

5) Toys!  Outdoor & Indoor Stuff to Keep Your Dog Busy

Our dog loves to run like crazy!  When we are out in the yard the Chuck-It Launcher is terrific. He gets excited as soon as he sees it. The best thing is that you can launch all sorts of balls with it Chuck-It balls, regular tennis balls, Chew King Supreme Rubber Fetch Ball and Kong Balls.  Don’t have a big space to launch balls? Try the Outward Hound Tail Teaser Dog Wand. It looks like a giant cat toy, but 10 minutes of this and your dog will be exhausted (and your tummy will hurt from laughter).  Want to play “soccer” with your pooch?  Try the Banfeng Giant 9.5" Dog Tennis Balls, which can easily be kicked around the kitchen.  After some good fun, put a tiny soft treat, mashed banana or peanut butter in the Kong Extreme Goodie Bone and relax. 

We get a lot of rain and in my effort to “mix it up” and engage our dog’s brain I purchased a few “puzzles” for him. AWOOF Snuffle Mat is a great way to make his meal last for 15min-20min or it can be used for treats.  Either way, all of the snuffling is great for your dog’s brain. The SPOT Ethical Pet Seek-a-Treat is a lot of fun and you can hide treats over and over.  I also created a snuffle toy with a muffin tin and tennis balls (not my idea, someone super creative came up with this!). After some interactive play, such as tug-of-war, or the squirrel log mentioned above, it’s a great way to finish things off.  

6) Water Stuff

Our dog loves to swim (lake, pool, etc.).  and initially I threw in many toys that sank, which wasn’t fun for anyone.  IF our dog is in a slightly calmer mood, we can throw tennis balls, which float, and he will drop them at our feet for a treat.  But if he is in “crazy mode” all bets are off and he is very likely to jump out of the pool, run off and shred the tennis ball within minutes. Enter Kong! I found these great options:

- Kong Aqua Dog Toy,
- Kong Wubba Dog and
- Kong Flyer -- 
he loves to snatch this one from the water, and if he runs off with it, I don’t have to worry.

We have not taken our dog to the lake and he doesn’t need a life jacket for our pool, but there are a number of options out there to include: 

- Outward Hound Dog Life Jackets,
Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket, and
- Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

So, you may ask, is our dog spoiled?  Debatable.  Does he fill us with joy and make us all laugh to see him having so much fun?  Definitely. 

You can also learn more about each of the products above by clicking here.

If you have additional ideas on what we should add to this guide or suggestions for other post ideas in the spirit of The Good Stuff Unlimited, please let us know.  Until next time, here's to finding time for your Good Stuff!

The TGSU Team!


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