As dog owners, we want the best for our furry friends. And there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there: Your parents who raised you alongside pure-bred golden retrievers likely have different insights and opinions than your friend who’s spent their adulthood rescuing shelter dogs. Rather than cobbling together all of this advice, it’s best to go straight to the experts and use their expert opinions to form your own style. There’s bound to be some natural variation in your puppy parenting approach depending on your dog’s temperament, breed, and history, but there are some things that the experts tend to agree on, and you’ll find 31 of those things on this very list.
Here you’ll find clever dog products of all sorts that you won’t find on conventional lists, all of them approved and recommended by the ultimate experts: Dog trainers. Whether you’re looking for new ways to stimulate your energetic pup, or tools for training them to walk respectfully on a leash, you’ll find expertly-vetted, tried-and-true answers here.
It doesn’t matter if you share your home with a great dane, a poodle, or anything in between. You’ll find new and unconventional training tools, toys, harnesses, and more for all breeds here. And even better, most of them ring in at less than $25, so you can treat your furry companion and save your money for pet rent.
A Challenging Puzzle Toy That You Can Bury Treats In
For aggressive chewers who need some hands-off entertainment, try the toppl, a durable treat-dispensing toy that forces your pup to work for their reward. Christie Catan, a certified professional dog trainer and co-founder of the online dog training community Tails of Connection, says of the toppl: “Mash up ingredients like plain greek yogurt, cottage cheese, canned meat, and wet dog food into a big bowl, put the mash into the toppl, and pop it into the freezer. Once the toppl is frozen, give it to your dog. The process of trying to figure out how to get the food out will enrich them and help them use their brains, calm down, and eventually even take a nap.” Try purchasing multiple sizes of the toy to interlock them and make it even more challenging for your dog.
This Toy That Is Great For Playing Together
Some dogs have trouble letting things go, aka, responding to the “drop it” command. (Relatable.) Catan notes toys similar to this French linen tug toy are great for working on this command with your dog and a great way to engage in interactive play together. Note that it’s recommended not to allow your dog to keep the toy after playtime is over, as the toy is meant for tugging, not chewing.
A Long Biothane Leash That Will Help Your Dog Explore The Natural World
Decompression walks, a term coined by dog trainer and founder of The Cognitive Canine Sarah Stremming, are “walks where the dog is allowed freedom of movement in nature.” If you want to explore the world with your doggo, Catan recommends a long leash like this Viper dog leash. It’s available in four lengths, ranging from 10 to 33 feet long, and is equipped with a waterproof BioThane coating that makes it ideal for helping your dog safely explore a beach, forest, or grassy field. “Dogs sniff way more when they are free to move, and sniffing comes with lots of benefits,” Catan said. “The part of the brain devoted to processing smells is about 40 times larger in dogs than humans, so letting your dog sniff is actually a lot of ‘mental exercise’ that will leave them feeling tired and fulfilled.”
This 3-in-1 Harness That Discourages Pulling
Decompression walks are best done off-leash, but Catan says “[they] can also be done on a long line clipped to a Y-shaped harness.” This three-in-one dog harness is perfect for the occasion; it’s reflective and attaches snugly around your dog’s chest and back, and the leash attaches in the front to discourage pulling. This handy harness also features a front handle so you can control your dog if need be as well as a seat belt handle to keep your pup secure during car rides.
This Handy Pouch That Has So Many Pockets For Storing Treats
Catan says that “putting your treats into a pouch tends to be an easier way to train, and in a pouch with pockets, you can separate low and high value rewards for different things.” That’s what makes this rapid rewards pouch so useful. It’s equipped with multiple compartments for goodies and secures neatly around your waist for easy access. The main compartment has a cord pull to open and close it easily, and you can stash your phone, keys, or cash in the zippered front pocket.
These Dog Goggles That Protect Your Pup’s Eyes
Puppies need eye protection, too! These dog googles will keep their eyes shielded from wind, UV rays, and water. Brett Endes, a professional dog trainer and canine behavior consultant, particularly recommends these for car rides and motorcycle trips. These crack-resistant googles are suitable for dogs 15 pounds and over, and feature sponge-lined lenses for comfortable wear as well as adjustable, breathable straps to keep these on your pup’s noggin.
This Specially-Designed Harness That Keeps Your Dog Safe On Car Rides
You buckle yourself and your kids up in the car for safety, but what about your dog? Endes also recommends this dog car harness, which is designed to keep your pooch clipped to a buckle, ideally in the backseat, so that in the event of a crash or hard braking, they won’t go flying across the vehicle. The strap is long enough to allow them to get comfortable, and the breathable mesh chest strap relieves pressure on their body. Take it from one reviewer, who took their dog for a car ride with the harness and had to suddenly slam on the brakes after being cut off. “My dog slid forward until her front feet were off the seat, then the belt arrested further travel…She was perfectly fine,” they said. “I don’t think she even knew how close we were to wrecking.”
This Unique Brush That Cleans Your Dog’s Paws In Seconds
My family lives in rural Oregon with two all-white dogs, so we’re well-acquainted with the struggle to keep their paws clean during mucky winters. For those adventurous pups, Endes recommends this dog brush that removes dirt and mud from your dog’s paws gently and effectively. The inside of the jar is lined with a silicone brush, and when filled with water, all you have to do is dip your pet’s paws inside to rinse and brush off debris. You can take it apart for easy cleaning, and use it as an all-over brush during bath time.
This Rubber Toy That Is Virtually Indestructible
One of the best toys you can give your dog is the tried-and-true KONG. Shonyae Johnson, a certified animal behavior manager at Operation Kindness, says “This is a classic toy that not only prevents dogs from chewing but can be a great way to give them treats.” Fill the KONG with peanut butter, yogurt, whipped cream, or kibble to encourage healthy play and help alleviate problems from crate training, chewing, boredom, and more.
This Egg-Shaped Toy That Will Provide Endless Entertainment
The unique shape and erratic movement of this mega egg toy will keep your dog engaged for hours. Johnson says: “These are great for dogs to help them get plenty of exercise. They roll around and are hard to catch, which makes them puzzling and a challenge for any pup.” It’s made from a non-toxic puncture-resistant plastic, so it’ll provide hours and hours of chasing for even the most energetic dogs.
This Bouncing, Floating Ball That Stands Up To Chewers
Big dogs will love playing with the bounce-n-play, an 8-inch wide toy ideal for kicking, chasing, retrieving, and chewing. The bounce-n-play is light enough to float for dogs who love to dive, but it’s designed to retain its shape without deflating even after being punctured. Johnson says: “[This is the] best ball for heavy chewers! They love to chase it and it’s stood up against our roughest players in the shelter, for hours of play throughout the week.”
A Durable Pole Toy That Helps Dogs Get A Mental & Physical Workout
You’ve probably seen pole toys similar to this flirt pole for cats before, but this larger, durable version is meant for dogs of all sizes. Johnson says: “[This is a] great activity toy for our dogs who want to chase! The lure on the end and its movement makes for great fun to expel energy after a training session.” Dog owners seem to agree — this flirt pole has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon.
This Dog Toy Variety Pack That’s Great For New Pups
If you’ve just adopted a new dog and aren’t sure what kind of toys they like best, or if you have more than one dog at home, Johnson recommends investing in something like this interactive dog toy variety pack. “Variety Packs such as this make a great opportunity to try new things for your pups. Often, they include items that can provide various forms of enrichment,” she says. “This one gives a lick mat for a frozen treat, a chew bone for gnawing and teeth cleaning, a snuffle mat for using noses to find treats, and a wobbler toy to play with and toss around for a reward.”
This Puzzle Game That Rewards Dogs For Positive Behaviors
For smart pups who maybe get into things they shouldn’t, you can’t go wrong with this interactive puzzle game. Marissa Sunny, certified supervisor of lifesaving and care at the Best Friends Animal Society, says “You can hide pieces of their food or even treats to keep them entertained, give them mental enrichment and help them work their brain.” They can sniff out and flip, lift, and slide each of the compartments to reveal the contents, which is a great way to reduce anxious and destructive behaviors and redirect your dog towards positive habits.
This Ball Launching Toy That Has A Surprising Use
Dogs who love to fetch will go crazy for the ChuckIt! sport ball launcher, which helps you toss tennis balls even faster and further for your pup. But Sunny also loves it for leash training purposes: “It’s the perfect length and height to fill with peanut butter and use it to reward the dog while walking without having to bend over every few steps,” she said. And for less than $10, this dual-purpose toy is more than worth the investment.
This Doggy Doorbell That Is *So* Clever
Potty training your puppy can be a frustrating, not to mention messy experience. But you can make the process a little easier by training your dog to ring this adjustable dog doorbell when they need to go outside. “These potty bells are easy to use and it’s quick to train a dog to hit them when they need to go outside,” Sunny says. “Bells are also a lot harder to accidentally miss than a pup sitting by the door!”
This Brightly Colored Chew Bone That Floats
Kellie Stevens, CPDT-KA and Gonzo Dog Certified Trainer, recommends adding the jolly bone to your dog’s arsenal of toys. With sizes available for small, medium, and large dogs, this curved bone design allows them to grasp the toy firmly in their mouth and is made to withstand even the toughest chewers. It also floats, so you can play fetch at home, in the pool, or at the beach.
A 10-Pack Of All-Natural Beef Chewing Sticks That Enrich Your Pup’s Health
Stevens also recommends these braided bully sticks. They’re made from three intertwined sticks of all-natural, grass-fed cattle and have no artificial ingredients, hormones, or chemicals. In addition to being a fun treat, these help take care of your dog’s dental health, removing plaque and tartar as your pet chews. If only brushing your teeth could be such an enjoyable, enriching activity for humans too!
A Pack Of Earth-Friendly Poop Bags That Smell Like Lavender
One doggy essential that every owner always needs? Poop bags. Maybe you’ve never thought twice about your choices there, but these Earth Rated dog poop bags are expert-approved. Julie Burgess, a certified dog trainer for SeniorTailWaggers.com, says: “These eco-friendly bags have a lavender scent which helps to disguise the odor. And, the thick, oversized bag will keep your hands clean because it’s guaranteed not to leak.” What more could you ask for in such a crucial and utilitarian item?
This Treat-Dispensing Toy That Provides Hours Of Entertainment
Your dog will love the hours of entertainment provided with this puzzling, treat-dispensing dog ball. “[This toy] can keep your dog entertained for hours by appealing to their scavenging instincts,” Burgess shares. “Simply insert your dog’s favorite dry treats into the toy. The toy will then dispense treats when your dog starts playing with it, keeping your dog entertained for a long time.”
This Cute Corn Cob Toy That Cleans Your Dog’s Teeth
This toothbrush chew toy resembles an ear of corn and brushes your dog’s teeth as they play. This cute, clever toy was designed with the shape of a dog’s mouth in mind for optimal cleaning. “The Corn Molar Stick is perfect for dogs and puppies that love to chew on things they shouldn’t, including you!” Burgess points out. “Let your dog or puppy gnaw on the kernels because they provide a surface to plunge their teeth into.”
A Monster Mouth Chew Toy That Can Slow Down Your Dog’s Eating
The MOUWOO dog chew toy is an unusual, but hardworking, multi-functional toy for medium and large breeds. “The MouWoo dog chew toy is somewhat weird-looking because it looks like a monster’s mouth. The toy offers multiple places to add treats or something like xylitol-free peanut butter or low sugar applesauce,” recommends Burgess. “If your dog or puppy inhales their food, it can lead to regurgitation, along with other health problems. Use this toy as a slow feeder and encourage your four-legged kid to work for their food.”
These Lick Pads That Keeps Your Dog Distracted While You Focus On Work
You and your pup were probably both thrilled when you started working from home, but now it might be hard to get through a meeting without an interruption from your four-legged friend. Equip them with these lick pads. Kevin Ryan, a professional dog trainer at Superb Dog, spoke of the benefits of lick pads: “These are simple silicone mats with a texture that allows you to spread your dog’s favorite soft foods (like peanut butter) on it. Dogs love the treat, and it takes them a while to get every last morsel, which means they will stay busy while you finish that Zoom call for work.” He also recommended using the suction cups on the back of the pad to stick it to the tile or bathtub while you bathe or groom your dog, keeping them distracted from the task at hand.
This Airtight Container That Keeps Pet Food In & Your Dog Out
Curious dogs and puppies have a way of getting into everything they shouldn’t, including their food. Opt to store their kibble in this airtight food container, which locks moisture and your dog out. Ryan recommended the vittles vault container for homes with large or multiple dogs because it uses biomedical storage technology to keep dry dog food fresh and pests out. It even comes with a scoop for easy serving at breakfast and dinner. Pet owners agree; the Vittles Vault has a remarkable 4.8-star rating on Amazon.
This Faucet Attachment That Allows Outdoor Dogs To Get Fresh Water Whenever
My dogs spend tons of time outside, and as a result have water bowls in various states strewn across our yard. Those bowls could easily be swapped for the Lixit faucet waterer, which attaches to a faucet or garden hose and provides an inextinguishable source of water that dogs can access 24/7 without assistance. Ryan said of the Lixit: “This super inexpensive item is incredibly practical and useful for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors…It takes about a minute to teach them that licking on the end will get them water, and after that you never have to worry about them running out of water, or having water get old and dirty, knocked over, or too hot from the sun.” He added that the some dog owners have also adapted it for indoor use, which comes in handy when you’ll be away from home for an extended time.
This Interactive Puzzle Game That Can Help Curb Destructive Behaviors
Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert at Rover, says a lot of destructive issues like chewing are due to boredom, which can be helped with a challenging toy. “Keeping your dog’s mind active will lead to a tired, happy dog…Make sure your dog is getting mental stimulation in addition to physical stimulation. This Hide N Slide puzzle toy from Outward Hound offers a good challenge with multiple hidden compartments to keep dogs occupied.” This best-selling dog toy has over 37,000 five-star reviews and is suitable for all breed sizes.
This Stylish Pet-Friendly Blanket That Happens To Be Waterproof
For pets who like to lounge on the furniture, the Mambe indoor blanket is the best possible throw blanket, according to Ellis. It’s soft and silky, so pet hair shakes off easily, and it’s machine washable. It’s also made of quality and sleek-looking microfleece with an internal waterproof barrier, which protects against spills and accidents of all kinds. Put it down as a barrier for your furry friends to lay on the couch or bed and protect your home in style.
This Leash That You Can Wear Around Your Shoulder
You can take your dog anywhere thanks to the adaptive versatility of the Blue-9 hands free dog leash. Ellis praises the leash for its multi-functional properties, and multiple attachment points. It can be adjusted to several different lengths, and you can even loop it around your shoulder for a hands-free walk. “From a longer leash for our hiking adventures, beach walks, and general exploring, to a cross-body attachment that keeps my dog close while training or in an unfamiliar area, this leash is as versatile as they come,” she says.
This Extra-Secure Harness That Works For Dogs Who Need More Support
Owners of especially wiggly puppies and dogs will appreciate the security of this harness for small dogs. Ellis says: “Sleepypod Martingale is the first harness of its kind where the top D ring is on a martingale to prevent your dog from pulling and escaping. The wide velcro that goes around the rib cage is extremely strong to ensure it doesn’t release under any pup pulling and allows you to get that perfect fit by making it as tight or loose as you need.” The triple-layered breathable mesh fabric is ultra durable, and conforms to the body while retaining its shape.
This Weighted Food Puzzle Toy That Can Replace A Dog Bowl
Meg Marrs, a dog trainer and the founder of K9 of Mine, can’t say enough about the Bob-A-Lot interactive toy. “[It’s] one of my favorite items that has been an absolutely game-changer for me and my dog…It’s a puzzle toy from Starmark that you can fill with your dog’s kibble, and your dog will knock and roll it around to make the kibble shoot out. If you have a clever dog who gets bored easily and you need enrichment ideas, this is such an easy win,” she raves. It exercises and feeds your dog at the same time, and is weighted and adjustable according to how challenged you’d like your pup to be. Marrs also notes that she now feeds her dog exclusively using this toy and doesn’t own a food bowl.
This Adaptable Training Lead That Is Incredibly Versatile
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your dog is invest in quality basics, like the HALTI training lead. Ali Smith, an award-winning puppy trainer and the founder of Rebarkable, says: “It’s not fancy, but it works — and it works hard. It’s hugely convenient because it’s so strong, it’s reliable and it’s the most adaptive leash I’ve found that allows for all sorts of activities and environments.” Use it at various lengths for obedience training, wrap it around your waist for hands-free walks, or clip it on two harnesses to walk two dogs at once.