If you have a dog, trainers say you should have these clever things in your home & backyard

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

Shopping
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

My dog is my best friend. That’s why I like to splurge whenever I’m shopping for treats or toys — the only downside is that my wallet can’t handle all the cool stuff I want to get him. Luckily for both of us, I’ve managed to find some middle ground. Instead of buying him everything I can get my hands on, I’ve reached out to a handful of dog trainers to see what sorts of clever things they recommend for your dog.

From keeping high-energy dogs entertained to crate-training puppies, you’ll find no shortage of advice from certified experts below. For example, Kimberlee Tolentino, the head trainer and owner of Lugaru K9 Training, suggests buying a stylish dog crate that resembles furniture — especially if you’re looking for something that’ll look nice in your home. “I love dog crates that multi-function as nightstands, entryway furniture, or end-tables,” she explains. “They're great at providing your dog with a safe space, and blending into your home's aesthetic while not in use.” There are also agility kits for energetic pups, squeaky toys for aggressive chewers, and even puzzle toys that can help stimulate their minds — all recommended by professionals.

Curious to see what else these trainers recommend for your dog? Keep scrolling to find out.

01

A toy that entertains high-energy dogs without tiring *you* out

Alec Littlejohn, co-owner Pawcessories and a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, suggests using a dog flirt pole like this one if you’re looking for ways to entertain your dog. “It's very similar to a fishing pole but with a toy on the end for your dog to chase,” he explains. “It's great for puppies with a lot of energy and doesn't require a great deal of effort on your end to use when playing with your dog.” But if that isn’t enough, many reviewers also wrote about how it’s quickly become their dog’s “favorite toy.”

02

This food tracker that helps prevent over- & under-feeding

John Woods, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the founder of All Things Dogs, suggests using this food tracker to make sure that your dog is being fed the right amount of food. It’s completely manual, which means there are no batteries needed — and there are even magnets on the back so that you can stick it to your fridge. According to Woods, “This product is especially useful for new dog owners, families, and larger households, as a reminder to ensure that they are feeding their dog at regular intervals.”

03

These food bowls that are sized for smaller meals

Woods also tells Bustle that it’s never a bad idea to double-check how much your dog should be eating. “How much, and how often, you should feed your dog ultimately depends on a number of factors (breed, size, age, and any health conditions), so if in doubt always check with your vet.” These stainless steel food bowls — which were not recommended by Woods — can hold 12 ounces of food, so you can fill them up accordingly. Plus, the non-skid mat helps keep them in place while your dog is eating.

04

The pee pads that you can wash & reuse

Sometimes, accidents just happen — and that’s why Woods recommends using these pee pads to help keep your home clean. “It's useful not only for potty training but can also be used when traveling and at home to protect flooring and furniture (couches and bedding are particularly prone to stains and odors if left otherwise unprotected),” he explains. And unlike the pee pads you’ve likely seen before, these ones are 100% washable as well as reusable. Plus, the layered material can hold more liquid than most other pads.

05

A treat-dispensing toy that can help freshen your dog’s breath

Emma Miles, a dog trainer and the co-founder of PawsomeAdvice, wants to know: “Can you think about a more clever dog product than a glow-in-the-dark ball that dispenses treats as your dog chews on it?” Not only is Miles a huge fan of this dog toy, but she also tells Bustle that it “...encourages a healthier lifestyle by keeping them playing for longer periods of time.” And since it’s infused with natural mint oil, it can even help freshen your pup’s breath while they chew on it.

06

This breath-freshening stick that can handle heavy chewers

Speaking of freshening your pet’s breath, this chew stick, which wasn’t recommended by Miles, is another solid option that’s specifically made for tough chewers. It’s made from tough nylon that won’t easily break, yet is gentle enough to still massage your dog’s gums while they chew — and it can even help scrub their teeth clean. Or, if you aren’t a fan of mint, it’s also available in peanut butter.

07

A different treat-dispensing dog toy that holds 3 cups of food

Looking for a fun toy that doesn’t require batteries? Meg Marrs, the owner of K9 of Mine as well as a dog trainer and animal shelter volunteer, suggests this Bob-A-Lot toy. “The Bob-A-Lot is my favorite household toy,” she explains. “It's a puzzle feeder that dispenses kibble slowly as your dog knocks, mouths, and hits the wobbling toy around.” And since it’s large enough to hold up to three cups of food, there’s a good chance your dog will be occupied for a while — or at least long enough to finish that TV show uninterrupted.

08

The squeaky toy that’s perfect for playing fetch

Aaron Rice, an expert dog trainer and co-owner of Stayyy, tells Bustle, “Playing games like ‘fetch’ is excellent for your dog’s physical health as well as brain development.” But if your dog requires something that’s a few steps up from a regular stick? Consider this squeaky toy that Rice recommends. It’s suitable for aggressive chewers and even has a delicious milk flavor. There’s also space on the inside where you can stuff little treats — just in case your pup needs a little extra convincing.

09

Trainer tip: Entertain your dog with an automatic ball launcher when you’re too tired to play

Just because your dog has a ton of energy doesn’t mean you do — that’s why Rice suggests using this automatic ball launcher on days when you’re too tired to keep playing. “It is not always possible to keep throwing a ball for your dog to fetch, especially when your dog wants to play just after a super long walk!” he explains. “In situations like these, an automatic ball launcher can be your savior.” Just make sure that you don’t leave it on for too long... “over-exercising your dog has its cons too,” he says.

10

A puzzle toy that can help stimulate your dog’s mind

Physical exercise isn’t the only stimulation your dog needs. “Along with physical activity, a dog needs to be stimulated mentally to achieve that delicate balance of a good body and good mood every day,” Rice tells Bustle. “Mental stimulation may include games and puzzles for dogs, training for different tasks and tricks (turning around, standing on the hind legs only, and giving a high five are some of the most common examples), play hunting, and the like.”

But if you’re in need of more specific ideas? Rice suggests giving this puzzle toy to your dog to play with. Just fill the compartments up with treats, then sit back and watch as your dog figures out how to slide and pull various pieces in order to pop them open. And since none of the parts are removable, it’s highly unlikely that your pup will accidentally swallow anything they aren’t supposed to.

11

The circular puzzle toy that’s a little more challenging

If that last puzzle seems too simple to get your dog’s mind working, this puzzle toy — which wasn’t specifically recommended by Rice — is a little more challenging. Fill each compartment with treats, then push in the white tabs to lock the lids into place. Your dog will have to figure out how to lift the tabs in the correct order if they want the treats inside — and with enough space for up to one cup of food, it can also be used as a slow-feed alternative at mealtimes.

12

A puzzle toy that lets you adjust its difficulty

This puzzle, which wasn’t trainer-recommended, lets you adjust the difficulty so that pups of all intelligence levels can figure it out. It’s also made without any BPA, PVC, or phthalates, and each piece is on the thicker side to help them hold up against chewing.

13

This snuffle mat that lets your dog hunt for treats

This snuffle mat wasn’t recommended by a trainer, either, but it still incorporates puzzles into the soft surface so your pup can search for food throughout the fabric. It’ll get their foraging instincts fired up, as your dog has to sniff their way through multiple layers of soft polar fleece in order to find the treats — and the nonslip backing helps keep it from shifting out of place while they nose around.

14

A snuffle mat that lets you use the pieces as standalone toys

Speaking of snuffle mats, this one is also sure to get your dog’s mind fired up. In order to use it, your dog will have to dig their nose down into each cylinder to get the hidden treats after removing the carrots. And since those carrots are made from soft, plush material, you can even remove them so that your dog can play with them as standalone toys if you want.

15

A leash that helps make walks as comfortable as possible

Even if your dog likes to relax on the couch all day, Rice tells Bustle that it’s still important for them to get some exercise. “You must exercise your dog not just to keep them from getting overweight or unhealthy physically, but to keep them happy and stress-free in all ways possible,” he explains. “Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog!”

This leash wasn’t recommended by a trainer, but it’s a solid pick for anyone who wants to keep their dog as comfortable as possible while exercising on walks. It’s made from a lightweight and breathable material, covering as little as your dog’s body as possible while still giving you control over where they’re going. Plus, the front chest loop helps you redirect your dog without yanking uncomfortably around their throat.

16

This waste bag dispenser with a built-in flashlight

Your dog is bound to poop while you have him out on a walk — and that’s why it’s never a bad idea to keep this bag dispenser hooked onto the leash. Each order includes a roll with 15 extra-thick bags, and they even have a lightweight lavender scent to help block any unpleasant odors. It also features a built-in flashlight for nighttime walks.

17

A paw washer that’ll help keep your floors clean after outdoor fun

Even the cleanest pups can wind up with dirty paws after a walk. Luckily, this paw washer is incredibly easy to use, as it only needs a small amount of soap and water to get your dog’s feet clean. Simply insert a paw, then give it a few twists; the silicone bristles on the inside will gently wash away dirt so that it can’t muddy up your house.

18

This dog crate that doubles as a piece of furniture

While it’s tempting to let your dog sleep in bed with you, Kimberlee Tolentino, the head trainer and owner of Lugaru K9 Training, tells Bustle that crate training is an important skill. “As a dog trainer, I know that crate training is really important for maintaining your dog's ability to be calm when asked to, and in managing behaviors during moments that you can't realistically supervise them,” she explains.

The only drawback is that some crates can look clunky. That’s why Tolentino is a fan of furniture dog crates, and this one’s a decorative choice: “They're great at providing your dog with a safe space, and blending into your home's aesthetic while not in use.” And since this care, in particular, comes in five different finishes, you shouldn’t have any problem matching it to your home.

19

A different dog crate that won’t break the bank

While this dog crate might not look as nice as the last one, it’s great for anyone on a budget. Single-door entry helps keep your pup secure while you’re away, and the metal frame is too tough to chew through. Plus, the base tray is easily removable for cleaning — just in case you come home to an accident.

20

The agility kit that’s perfect for high-energy dogs

Playing fetch isn’t the only way to exercise high-energy dogs: “A great addition to a backyard is anything that gives your dog an outlet for their energy, especially if it comes in the form of a sport you can do together,” Tolentino explains. “There are home lure coursing systems and home agility kits that pop up and store easily.”

Speaking of agility kits, this one is available for less than $45 and comes with all the tools you’ll need to get your dog going. While it’s suitable for outdoor use only, the bars are adjustable so that you can gradually train your dog to jump higher and higher over time. One reviewer also wrote, “I really love that it’s so portable. We have it set up in the backyard but it can be easily moved to mow then lawn and such.”

21

A ball launcher that’ll send your dog running

As Tolentino mentions, finding a sport that you and your pup can both engage in is important — and this ball launcher might be right up your alley. The extra-long handle makes it easier to throw the ball really, really far — and each order even comes with a soft rubber ball included. Plus, it even comes in sizes that are suitable for small, medium, as well as large breeds.

22

These toys that can handle aggressive chewers

Not all dogs are into playing fetch — if yours would rather tug on a toy, they’re almost guaranteed to enjoy these ropes. They’re suitable for aggressive chewers, which means your dog can pull as hard as they like without you having to worry about them being torn to shreds. And with seven toys included, your pup has options when it comes to playtime.

23

A soccer ball that your dog can pick up

Your dog doesn’t have to watch from the sidelines while you’re playing these sports, as this soccer ball toy lets them join in on the fun. Unlike regular soccer balls, this one features tabs all over its surface so that your dog has somewhere easy to grab onto. It’s also lightweight and buoyant — just in case it gets kicked into the pool — and each order comes with an air pump included.

24

This peanut butter holder that can help with crate training

Some toys are great for playtime, whereas others are better suited for helping calm them down. With that in mind, Annie Grossman, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, and the co-founder of School for the Dogs, suggests using this toy the next time you’re crate training. “Pup parents can help their dog feel good about their crate by reducing anxiety with the Groov Training Aid,” she explains. “Simply smear peanut butter on the Groov Training Aid, stick it on your crate, and watch your dog enjoy!” And since it’s suitable for all breeds, there’s no need to worry about sizing up or down for your dog.

25

A bed that can help make your dog’s crate even cozier

While treats can help with crate training your dog, making sure they’re comfortable while they’re inside is also important. This pet bed wasn’t recommended by a trainer, but it’s made with a soft faux sherpa cover and polyester filling that gives it a plush feel to help cushion your dog’s joints while they’re relaxing. The bolster around the edges gives them somewhere comfortable to lay their head — and many reviewers appreciated how it’s “easy to clean.”

26

The dog cot that can handle being kept outside

Diana Ludwiczak, a certified K9 scent detection trainer and the CEO of Doctor Sniffs Bed Bug Dogs, recommends this elevated cot if you’re looking for a pet bed that can handle being kept outside. “If you're looking for an outdoor dog bed that can withstand the elements, Coolaroo is the way to go,” she tells Bustle. But if that isn’t enough, it’s also made from breathable material. Plus, the powder-coated metal frame can support up to 50 to 100 pounds (depending on which size you choose).

27

An elevated dog bed for when you’re always on the go

Always taking your pup with you on adventures? “If you and your dog are constantly on the go, I'd recommend the Veehoo Folding Elevated Dog Bed,” Tony Romanik, the owner and trainer at Sit Means Sit Chicago, tells Bustle. “This will allow you to keep your dog cool, clean, and safe in any environment.” It also folds down so that it’s easy to take with you when traveling — and with a weight capacity of up to 200 pounds, both small and large breeds can comfortably relax on it.

28

This toy that’s surprisingly versatile

If your dog easily loses interest in their toys, try giving them this swing ‘n fling toy to play with. According to Romanik, “It offers complete engagement for your dog because of its ability to be a fetch or tug toy. It also floats, is extremely durable and can be used anywhere” — and many reviewers with high-energy dogs even wrote about how well it has held up despite vigorous chewing.

29

A water bottle that’s made specifically for dogs

Drinking water is always important. But when it comes to dogs, Romanik tells Bustle, “It's critical to keep your dog hydrated, especially as we head into summer months.” The only issue is that carrying an extra bowl in addition to a bottle of water can be a pain. Instead, Romanik suggests this dog-friendly water bottle. “The PupFlask Large Dog Water Bottle combines the bowl and water bottle into one vessel, making it extremely convenient.” And since the cap is leakproof, there’s very little chance of it spilling inside your bag.

30

A different water bottle that reviewers adore

This water bottle wasn’t recommended by a trainer, but it’s another go-to option for keeping your pup hydrated during outings. Not only does it have thousands of four- and five-star reviews, but its compact size means it takes up hardly any space inside your bag. One reviewer raved, “It is slim, fits perfectly in a bottle slot in my travel bag; it is lightweight and has a loop to put around my wrist when I walk with my pups.”

This article was originally published on