If you’re still looking for a gift for the dog lover in your life, then this is the gift guide for you! We’ve updated our 2021 gift guide with new items that are sure to make dogs and dog parents excited! Whenever possible, we encourage you to support a small business, so while most of these products can be found on Amazon, Chewy, and PetsMart, we encourage you to shop at your local pet businesses!
We’re sure it comes as no surprise that the training category comes first for us! We believe the best gift anyone can get their pup is the gift of a good relationship and a calm nature! A gift card for training lessons is a great way to help a dog-lover set their dog up for success! And if you’re looking to add a little pizazz to a gift card, we offer “Puppy Packs,” which include a gift card for a half-hour park lesson, an enrichment toy, a training leash, a collapsible water bowl, food and treat samples from our local pet supply store For Healthy Pets, and a number of informational training pamphlets!
As far as training tools, our first recommendations are usually treat pouches, training clickers, and a good leash! Dogs need clear communication, reinforcement, and consistency, so you will be well-served with investing in a good treat pouch and training clicker! We prefer silicon treat pouches for ease of cleaning. We really like Voila Pets because they are well-made and hold up to pretty heavy use. For a non-silicon option, we really like this OllyDog pouch because it has other compartments for the other things you might be carrying, like a cell phone or poop bags!
In a training lesson, you’ll learn that leashes are used for much more than just walking your dog! We use them to set boundaries, prevent unwanted behaviors, and communicate clearly. The length of your leash will depend on the size of your dog and the amount of freedom you want to give them. We love biothane leashes because they are extremely easy to keep clean and hold up to fairly heavy use. Strange Tails is a small business that offers customizable biothane leashes and leash attachments. Their flexible products are well-made and easy to clean and use!
Health & Safety
Every pet parent is concerned with the health and safety of their dog! A first aid kit is an incredibly thoughtful and useful gift! There are some ready-to-go kits on the market, but we also recommend talking with your vet to either include some additional items or even build your own kit. A basic kit will probably include a wound cleaner, some gauze, a pair of scissors, tweezers, and bandages or sterile wrap. We also like to add a blood clotting powder, a clean syringe, and some vet-approved medicines. The point of a first aid kit is to stabilize your dog so that you can get them to veterinary care. For Healthy Pets carries most of these items!
Sometimes getting your pet veterinary attention is more difficult than normal. If your dog-lover is a outdoors-person that enjoys hiking or camping with your dog, they may benefit from having the dog AirLift from Fido Protection. This is a harness that enables a person to carry their larger dog back to civilization and medical care if something happens while out in the wilderness.
And our final health gift is not flashy, or even wrap-able, but is probably the most thoughtful we can come up with. Veterinary care for our four-legged friends is not inexpensive, and having a loved-one put a credit on your account at your vet’s office is a generous and often overlooked gift idea. It doesn’t have to be an exorbitant amount. Even $20-$50 dollars off of a vet visit is an excellent way to show some love!
Enrichment & Entertainment
We love a good enrichment toy around here! They provide outlets for natural dog behavior like chewing, licking, and sniffing, and they drain some mental energy. They can occupy your pup’s attention when you need to get something done, and they can be great crate training tools! Our recommendations for enrichment can be divided into five categories: Stuff-able toys, Snuffle Mats and Puzzles, Bones and Chews, Games, and Exercise.
There are many options out there for stuff-able toys. Most dog owners recognize the Kong brand, but we also love the WestPaw Topple and the Woof Pupsicle. And then there’s the classic LickiMat. You can get all of these locally at For Healthy Pets in Montgomery or Wetumpka!
You can find our full article on enrichment ideas in a previous Underbite post, but here are a few tips for creating some quality enrichment time with a stuff-able toy:
- Enrichment toys need to be just challenging enough to hold your dog’s attention, but not so challenging that your dog gets frustrated. Some puzzle toys work great for some dogs, but others may give up quickly because the effort doesn’t equal the reward. We typically opt for simpler toys, but freeze the goodies inside to make them last!
- Remember that toys stuffed with food are adding to your dog’s calorie count for the day. If you give them an enrichment toy high in calories, make sure you’re adjusting their meals to compensate! We sometimes use enrichment toys stuffed with high-quality food as a substitute for eating dinner out of a bowl!
- While many of these toys were designed to be interacted with safely and not present choking hazards, we do not recommend leaving your dog alone with these toys. Or at the very least, give them under supervision the first few times so that you can gauge your dog’s interaction with them before you leave them alone.
- We have found that freezing the goodies inside makes them last longer and add to the challenge, so we encourage you to prep a few ahead of time so that you always have some ready. A muffin tin makes a great “prep and storage” station for frozen toys. We fill up six toys at a time with yummy goodies (you can find our enrichment toy recipe suggestions here), put them in the muffin tin and slide them into the freezer for later.
Snuffle Mats and puzzles are also excellent enrichment toys. They encourage a dog to use its nose to search and problem solve. These work best with dry treats and food and are an excellent way to add some fun into your dog’s kibble meals! And if your pup isn’t a destroyer of soft toys, there are some excellent soft puzzle toys out there that you can make even more fun by sprinkling treats within and adding strips of cloth or towel!
For bones and chews, you want to make sure that your pup is not the type to break their teeth or dislodge large chunks off to become a choking hazard. We like Nylabone and Benebone and many of the fun “Super Chewer” toys made by BarkBox. You’ll definitely want to supervise your dog’s interaction with these toys!
If your the homemade present type of giver, there are some excellent DIY toys and games! You can make a puzzle ball, a flip puzzle, or a flirt pole! These are all fairly inexpensive and easy-to-make presents that will still give your pup plenty of fun and enrichment!
And finally, we’d love to highlight a local business here in Montgomery! Dog on the Run is a mobile dog gym that comes to your house to exercise your pups for you! They have three size options for dog-powered treadmills (dog-powered means that your dog controls the speed of movement). In addition to exercise, learning to run on a treadmill can also be a great confidence builder, and the owner Halle is excellent about making sure your pup is having a positive experience!
If you thought there were a lot of enrichment toy options out there, then you’ll definitely be overwhelmed by the number of grooming products! Our favorite way to give grooming products is to create a cute little gift basket! Often, these baskets include a natural shampoo, nail clippers and styptic powder, an absorbent towel or pet robe, a brush, and a good-smelling spritz (of course, most of these items can be found locally at For Healthy Pets!). You can also include a special facial shampoo, and flea and tick spray, or cute little bows or a bow tie if your dog is a cute little fancy pup!
If the pup goes to a professional groomer, it’s always a good idea to get a gift card for the groomer of choice! There are many great groomers in River Region and covering a grooming appointment for your loved one’s dog would probably be much appreciated!
Treats & Food
The important thing to remember when discussing treats of any kind is that they are supplemental to your dog’s calorie intake, so trying to source healthy treats that add nutrients and don’t overfeed our dogs is key! We have mentioned For Healthy Pets already because they carry many of the items on this list and are locally owned, but we really have to highlight them when discussing food and treats because they have such a variety of healthy options!
Whether you’re looking at their main food source, enrichment ideas, or training treats, they have a great variety and their knowledgeable staff can help you find an option that’s well suited for the pup(s) in your life!
Home & Apparel
For the dog-lover’s home, we tend to gravitate toward things that help keep a multi-pet household organized! We love these cute leash hooks and food/water bowl stands that double as storage! And while these organizer bins technically aren’t made for pets, we use them to organize our “dog cabinet” where we keep treats, chews, food toppers, and supplements.
Pet beds and crates are another excellent home-related gift for your dog-lover! This orthopedic bed is a favorite for our pups, and there are many excellent crate options at many different price points, from collapsible wire crates and fabric crates to heavy duty travel crates and crates made for anxious dogs.
For the coffee-drinking dog-lover in your life, Grounds and Hounds Coffee Co has some excellent coffee, coffee accessories, and apparel, and many of their proceeds go towards shelter pups!
Many of the collapsible crates above could also be included in the travel category, but some additional ideas can be found at the Kurgo website. We love their made-to-last products such as this car hammock, a collapsible water bowl, and this kibble carrier.
Another, perhaps less common, gift idea is a gift certificate for a pet sitter for those trips that the dog can’t join! Knowing your pets are well-cared for when you’re out of town is an excellent peace-of-mind gift. We love Jeri with Bryant’s Buddies in the Montgomery area!
Sports & Activities
If the dog-lover in your life is also an outdoor enthusiast that brings their dog on adventures with them, we love these adventure-ready dog items from REI: the dog day pack, an easy-to-see collar light, and these rugged dog hiking boots.
Love gifting experiences instead of things? One of the best experiences we’ve ever had with our dogs is the One World Canine Obstacle Course (formerly known at the Canine Biathlon) in Anniston, Alabama. The ultimate bonding experience, this 5k obstacle course designed with your dog in mind is perfect for outdoorspeople and athletes, but you don’t have to be in world-class shape to participate! They welcome multiple fitness levels and encourage you to just enjoy the time with your dog!
And finally, for the readers in your life, there are many dog training books that we love, such as The Other End of the Leash and The Puppy Primer by Dr. Patricia McConnell.
And animal-loving readers know that there is no shortage of amazing dogs in both non-fiction and fiction literature. We adore this classic collection of short stories about dogs by James Herriot, and if you’re into sad stories with happy, redemptive endings, Tomorrow by Damien Dibben is the best dog book we’ve read in recent years.