dog gift guide santa cruz
December 2019

Holiday Gift Guide for Dogs

By Natalya Dreszer

The holiday season is right around the corner and everyone deserves an extra treat – that’s right, it’s time to think gifts for your furry pet! We sat down with a dog expert at Hazeldog to get the best ideas. Hazeldog is a source of information and tools for dog guardians to help them have fulfilling, fun lives with their dogs run by a CTC certified Dog Trainer. Here is a list of some of their favorite holiday gift ideas for you and your dog.

dog gift guide santa cruz
  • The Kong-Wobbler is a go-to intro food puzzle, it’s a durable and dishwasher-safe treat-dispensing toy. Hazeldog suggests that “every dog could benefit from eating  their meals out of food puzzles,” it takes dog guardians an extra 30 seconds to prepare the puzzle and turns a 1-2 minute meal with a regular food bowl to an appropriate outlet for your dog’s energy that can last up to half an hour. Especially in winter when it’s dark out, using food puzzles as mental enrichment to tire your dogs out can help make them feel satisfied with their day.


  • The West Paw Toppl is great as a busy project and for snacks between meals. It is a more open at the top than the Kong food puzzles, so it’s a good puzzle choice for wet-food options and peanut butter. These come in different sizes and are stackable for an extra challenge, and Hazeldog has a tip: add food and then freeze it to make the puzzle harder for your dog! Using food puzzles for meals and snacks can also keep your dog occupied and entertained without your attention.


  • The Outward Hound Tail Teaser is a toy for your dog, almost like an oversized cat toy. This option is great to tire out energetic dogs because you don’t need that much space – just a 6×6 foot space in a living room is enough. It’s a great way to tire your dog out when it’s too dark to go anywhere, and it’s super durable.


  • Dog Nerd Shirt (for dog guardians): Woolf Cultr is a local company based out of Pacifica that makes the cutest shirts! My favorite is the “dog nerd” t-shirt, although there are several fun options.


  • Let Them Sniff Canvas Tote: Another product by Wolf Cultr, the “Let Them Sniff” message can also be a good conversation starter. Even very small dogs are not getting significant physical exercise from a leashed walk, so letting them sniff is a great way to let them use their brains and explore the world with their primary sense. Dogs have about 50 times more olfactory receptors in their noses than humans and once dog guardians realize that sniffing is what dogs want, they can both enjoy walks more, being on the same page.


  • Ruffwear (Front Range). This is a padded harness with front and back clips, and is great because the padding is comfortable for long walks and hikes, great for dogs who are out on the trails a lot. Ruffwear is a “cool” brand, sort of like Patagonia for dogs and the bright colors are fun but not childish, which some dog stuff can be.


Why are attachment points on the front of leashes useful? When a dog pulls on a leash attached on the front the physics moves them to the side. This means that there will not be as much force put on the person holding the leash as a leash attached at the back, making it easier for the dog walker. Additionally, a harness causes less choking and pain for a dog than a collar, making the experience more enjoyable for dog guardians and dogs alike!


  • Free Range Chicken Thighs – boiled and cubed. The highest quality most expensive meat that you can find on the market is still going to be cheaper than the fancy dog treats.


  • Baby Food or Squeeze Pouches – Gerber makes some that come in plastic tubs, dogs can eat it straight out of the tub (if you trust your dog not to eat the plastic), or transferred to a food puzzle like the Kong Classic or West Paw Topple. Tip: Freeze it to make it more of a challenge! Note: some dogs will love any flavor, but if your dog isn’t used to eating veggies then the meat options will probably be the most fun for your dog.


Remember: avoid chocolate, grapes, spices, anything in the onion family (including garlic).


  • Leftover cardboard boxes from holiday shopping –use boxes as a food puzzle! Make the puzzles harder and harder for your dog, starting with the lid open, then closing it or adding packing paper mixed in with food. Let them shred the box for extra fun! Shredding is normal dog behavior that can be a good thing for your dog to express. Just because you are letting them do it doesn’t mean that they will start wanting to do it more, in fact, by giving them the outlet to do it appropriately it will make it less likely that they will do it at an inappropriate time. Make sure they don’t eat the cardboard (but less dangerous than other materials if they accidentally do eat a little bit.

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