2019 was a year of pure psychosis in my house. Opening a third HH while parenting a tiny person was enough to send me cuckoo, so in 2020 I’m focusing on things that make life easier and more enjoyable, starting with the dogs! The following are things we added to our pack this year that have saved me boatloads of sanity. Enjoy!
IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE DOG >> I swear, I don’t know why this one hasn’t graced the cover of dog magazines. I have a lot of favorite pet products but this one is THE one that brings me joy every time I use it. Bonus, it’s the cheapest thing on the list, too. If you have a pair of dogs the one thing you truly need is a leash coupler. In my line of work the number of times parents are dragged into the facility in a tornado of two leashes is enough to make me want to pass these out like party favors. For those poor souls who come in with two retractable leashes, well…let’s just say we pray they don’t have a broken ankle by the time they get to the front counter! I digress…a coupler is a simple V-shaped apparatus that allows you to hook two dogs to ONE leash. Now, I’m not saying this should be your end-all and you should never walk your dogs solo ever again, but when you’re trying to get your dogs from A to B with the least amount of chaos, this is the way to do it. It’s almost impossible for the dogs to get tangled and at least if they pull you, they sort of have to pull you in the same direction. Did I mention they’re only like 15 bucks and will fit any regular leash? My favorite it the one made by Mendota. Their products are durable as heck and easy to find. Check it out here or pick one up at HH in Conway.
IF YOUR DOG HOGS THE COUCH >> This is a recent find for us and became a necessity for two reasons. One, my four dogs and their many pillows had taken over an entire sectional to the point Chad and I were trying to squish together in one recliner! What!! Second, three of the four of them slept in crates in our room and have always loved their little dens, but they’d turned into a place for me to pile clothes and they were just ugly. After years of buying every random cute bed at HomeGoods I finally convinced myself to bite the bullet and invest in one of these giant donut beds from Best Friends by Sheri. The fur is so soft but it’s also airy so it isn’t going to make your dog get too hot, and there are so many ways the dogs can burrow and cuddle into it. They LOVE it. They sleep on it at night and the only problem we’ve had is that we have to cart it back and forth between the living room and bedroom so they always have access to it. Even right now as I type I’m sitting on my couch for probably the first time in 4 months because of this thing! I bought one giant one so my dogs could share (they are cuddlers) so it wasn’t cheap ($140 at Hollywood Feed), but 4 small beds at HomeGoods would have cost me that anyway and without this result. Check them out here. There are quite a few others on the site that look pretty awesome too.
IF YOUR DOG DRIVES YOU INSANE >> Most people don’t know that mental exercise can tire a dog out just as much as physical exercise. They also NEED mental exercise as much, and if your dog is pestering you constantly to just DO something with him, mental exercise may be needed. There are lots of cool brain games you can play with your dog but sometimes you just need to get that laundry folded and keep the dog occupied while you do it. Treat toys have flooded retailers in recent years and rightfully so – they’re awesome and can really help your dog get his “work” fix when you’re not able to. One of the first ones I ever bought was the IQ Treat Ball and 6 years later it’s not only still my favorite one, it’s held up to at least 10 different dogs taking a whack at it and still looks brand new. I love it because it’s perfect for holding kibble (so you can feed your dog his regular food with it instead of adding a bunch of treat calories), and it’s relatively easy for the dog to figure out without your help (some of the treat toys out there are a little too much in the complexity department). PRO TIP: they come in different sizes. If your house is set up such that the ball is going to roll under your couch (which means YOU have to go get it out), go up in size so that won’t happen. Really even a small dog could play with the larger ones just as easily. A lot of specialty pet retailers carry these things so check there first, but to see it in action now check it out here.
IF YOUR DOGS CAN’T MAKE UP THEIR MIND >> With four dogs (and a cat), one of these goons is always wanting to come inside or go outside. My back door opens and closes more than a Walmart entrance. So for my birthday this year I asked for a doggie door and I got one!! Chad has fought me on this for years because he claimed our dogs would bring in random crud from outside (and he is right) but he finally caved and O. MY. HOUND. How did I not know how life changing these things are?! Going in and out when they want is great and all but I guess I’m dumb and didn’t realize also how much freedom one gets when they have a doggie door…if you leave your dog loose in the house during the day and get caught behind a wreck on your way home, you don’t have to sweat about your dog having to hold it until you get there to let him out! It’s unbelievable how much stress this one thing has taken out of our lives. We haven’t had to leave our dogs at home alone much but when we did I always felt like we were “on the clock” knowing there was only so long they could be left in or out without issues. Obviously depending on your situation a doggie door can be a hefty investment but I think it’s worth starting a spare change doggie door fund if you haven’t had one before. We got this one because it had the best ratings for harsh weather conditions (our back door is right in the line of the wind most days) and it has been great, but there are tons of options out there to fit varying budgets.
PRO TIP: make sure you get one that has either the option to be locked or comes with something you can cover the door with. We learned the hard way that our delinquent kitty Harry Pawter loves to go out and be all nocturnal, resulting in us waking up to various dead bug/critter surprises each morning. Oy. 😉
IF YOUR DOGS LIKE TO BE OUTSIDE >> I’ve raved about this one before. Having nose-driven hounds who love to be outside means they always also need to have fresh water outside. I’m lazy and filling up a water bowl once an hour is not my jam, nor doIt I want to get some giant bucket to put out there that would just collect film and nastiness over time. I found this water fountain thing on Amazon and have had it for almost two years with zero issues. The flowing water helps the water stay cooler and helps keep that stagnant grossness away. It also holds more water than your average bowl and does come with filters you can use to help keep things even cleaner. The motor and electric parts come off easily so the bowl and lid can go in the dishwasher when needed. It’s also quiet and the water flow is gentle enough that even the most timid of dogs will catch on. My cat even drinks from it. Since I got mine they’ve also come out with a battery powered option, so even if your backyard doesn’t have a plug in you’re still ok! It’s roughly 50 bucks and you can view it here on Amazon (and don’t forget to purchase from smile.amazon.com so your purchases will help your favorite charities!).
I hope 2020 is a year filled with fun for you and your dog! What products have brought peace to your dog parenting life? I’d love to hear about them!
[email protected] / @laceyhawkvance / @sisterbeagles / @houndshideaway