Gear of the Year 2004
Our favorite dog care products from this year's reviews.
Dog Gear of the Year: 2003
Why is it that most of us dog owners love buying dog-related stuff? I’ve never examined the impulse, but I’ve certainly given in to it. A novel new toy for my dogs to run and play with, a leash that feels just right in the hand, a spill-proof water bowl . . . I never know what I’ll find (and immediately want) in the aisles of my local pet supply store, on line, or in the latest catalog deposited in my mailbox.
Some Great Leash-Walking Products
The best leash-walking products are effective in helping the owner train the dog not to pull (that is, they provide a large enough window of opportunity for the owner to successfully train the desired walking behavior), minimally aversive to the dog, easy to use, well-made, and affordable. (We put price last, since most owners of leash-pulling dogs would pay almost anything for a product that really helps them!)
Whole Dog Journal Reviews Some “New and Exciting” Dog Toys
I have some good news to report and some bad news. First, the good news: Happy Dog Toys is really on to something. Their products are highly appealing to playful people, so much so that they can’t wait to go try them out with their dogs. The bad news? None of the three interactive toys I tested performed quite as well as their packaging suggested.
The Best Life Jackets for Dogs
When someone first mentioned doggie life jackets to me, I'll admit, I giggled. Dogs can swim just fine, for goodness sake. But then I started thinking about it. Actually, I've known some awful canine swimmers. F.B., my sister's Hound-mix, was one of those dogs. When I was a teenager, I used to take F.B. and my dog (F.B.'s son) to the Yuba River.
The Use of ‘Bait Bags’ in Dog Training
The arguments against bait bags are not so obvious. The most compelling is that the presence of a bait bag is like a flashing neon sign - an obvious cue to your dog that it's training time and treats are handy. I stand firmly in the middle of the bait bag debate. I shop for lots of lightweight, loose-fitting jackets with large pockets so I can stash my bags of treats comfortably on my person without turning on the neon sign. Of course, my dogs know that I have treats in my pockets, but I always have treats in my pockets, so the presence of treats is not the cue that training is happening.
Indoor and Patio Litterboxes for Home-Alone Dogs
To most people, the word “house-trained” refers to a dog who has been trained not to urinate or defecate indoors. For my parent’s generation, this bit of training was usually accomplished by Mom, who stayed home while the rest of the family went to work or to school. As double-income families became the norm, the home-alone dog was faced with a serious problem. By the time you add a lunch hour and commute time onto an eight-hour work day, a house dog may have to “hold it” for as long as 10 hours before someone finally comes home to let her out. Her legs are probably tightly crossed for at least the last two.
Foam Filled Dog Beds
Not all foam beds can be thrown in a washing machine (we love the ones that can). But at least they can be taken outside and hosed off, which is a good thing to do occasionally, since immersion is an amazing anti-flea technique (see the article "Integrated Pest Management for Flea Control"). It’s a little difficult to wring them out – letting them drain by propping them up on one edge helps – but they air-dry surprisingly quickly. In contrast, many beds that are stuffed with cedar chips, fiberfill, or a combination of the two are almost impossible to wash.
The Tools That Make Dog Training a Breeze
Blushing brides used to come to their new marriages with a hope chest and a trousseau – a collection of the basic necessities for setting up a new household. It occurred to us that dogs should come to their new homes with a trousseau, too – containing everything dog and owner need to lay the foundation for a successful lifetime relationship. We put our minds to the task, and came up with the following collection of items that should be in every dog owner’s hope chest.
Finding Your Dog a Warm Winter Coat
Putting a coat on your dog shouldn't be about making a fashion statement. Rather, it should be about keeping a chilly dog warm, thereby preventing hypothermia, a dangerous condition characterized by a reduced internal body temperature. (The normal canine body temperature is 100.5 to 102 degrees. A dog whose temperature drops below 95 degrees can die.) A dog's natural protection against cold varies from breed to breed. Labradors and certain Northern dogs (Huskies and Malamutes, for example) have developed with special physiological responses for coping with cold.
Dog Gear of the Year 2001
Once again, it’s time to look back at all of the great products we’ve reviewed over the year and pick out our very favorites. The following are our top (four paws) picks from the last 12 months – great suggestions for gifts to put under the tree of your favorite dog-obsessed human friends or relatives, stuff in your dog’s stocking, give to the hostess of that upcoming holiday party, or buy for yourself as a reward for doing another whole year of positive training with your canine pal.
A Few Dog Products We Missed
Often, after we have reviewed a certain type of product, we get calls, letters, and e-mail from Whole Dog Journal readers telling us about similar products that we did not review. While we do not – and cannot – test every example of a product concept, when we learn about an exceptional or unusual one that we missed, we like to bring it to your attention. The following are a few notable additions to our product reviews from the past year.