What are the amazing new puppy things?
June 21, 2018 7:26 AM   Subscribe

We lost our very-much-loved dog this past winter, and are finally getting a new puppy next week! (sorry no pictures yet). Our last dog went blind fairly young and stopped wanting to play with toys shortly after that, so we're completely out of touch with what amazing new toys / tech / inventions are now out there for maximum canine joy. Besides a fillable Kong or two, what are the latest must-haves?

Assume a medium-size dog (˜35 lbs, maybe 15 lbs in puppy form) with insane capacity for shedding. Small city apartment with a tiny walled yard.
posted by Mchelly to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Foraging toys have improved a bit - there are snuffle mats and buster cubes as well as the Kong. I like the ball throwers for trips to the dog park.

If you have excess money, one of these seems pretty cool.

I swear by the Ruffwear Webmaster (we've bought two) and their Front Range harness (bought one but traded it in for a Webmaster as the fit was better for my small dog). All the Ruffwear stuff is expensive but incredibly sturdy and holds up very well to brush and trails for hiking. I always walk in a harness as opposed to a collar - better control; less risk of hurting dog's throat or collapsing the trachea.

If your apartment gets hot, one of these are nice, or a cooling mat.

In winter, consider boots to protect paws from snow and ice. I like the Ruffwear boots, but these are also nice. I also like a snowsuit to keep snow and muck from getting to my pup's fine and easily matted fur; this one comes with a snood to keep ears warm.

I also swear by these collars and my dog only wears this and sometimes collars I sew for her (but TBH I prefer the leather - it looks cooler).

There are GPS trackers for dogs now, expensive but, you know, peace of mind.

The Furminator is supposed to be great for shedding; my dog has pretty fine fur so I don't need to worry about it.

Consider crate training the pup - invaluable training when the dog needs to be quiet or out of the way.

For chews, my dog only likes bully sticks and solid cheese chews. I wouldn't recommend antlers, as they can crack teeth.

Train pupper to have teeth brushed as it is extremely important for health in the long run!

Please get pupper fully vaccinated and desexed on schedule. This doesn't necessarily mean very young - some breeds are much healthier if they're desexed at full growth.

And the most important thing of all: consistent training with a force-free professional and massive amounts of puppy socialization. Bring pupper EVERYWHERE puppers can go. Make sure pupper encounters every kind of human imaginable. As soon as pup's vaccinations are complete, bring to puppy play dates and appropriate dog parks to meet other dogs (carefully, of course). And always train and reinforce good behaviour.
posted by Nyx at 8:00 AM on June 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

Also in the "excess money" category is the CleverPet. It's billed as a video game for dogs -- it's like a Simon Says based treat dispenser. We've had one (thanks for the gift MIL!) for a year though, and our nervous dog is still kind of scared of it. She's a special beast though, I think a lot of dogs take to it pretty quickly.

People seem to really love the BarkBoxes and the like -- monthly delivery of new toys and treats. I haven't succumbed yet, as the Special Beast rips through plush toys in seconds and is uninterested in things she can't destroy (so the rubber type toys in chewer specific boxes wouldn't get played with).

We (and both trainers we've worked with) love the Balance Harness. I considered Ruffwear, but we need a sturdy front clip because Special Beast is a puller and built like a tank. Probably not as much of a problem for a smaller dog.
posted by natabat at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

My best buddy dogs have gotten a lot of wear out of the Bob-a-lot.
posted by praemunire at 8:36 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nail maintenance...I use a Dremel on my black Lab (can't see the quick on a black nail, so clipping is not easy). I got a "giggler" toy that she really likes along with duck/geese ones, and I use a food dispensing ball when I want to keep her busy for a while. There are bunches of food puzzles now, too. I use this brush for most grooming and this glove for delicate areas like legs/tail.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 8:48 AM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also love the Ruffwear Webmaster harness, although it does not discourage strong pullers. Since you're getting a puppy, start them off in a harness and train them not to pull - the simplest way is to just stop as a tree when they pull and start walking again when they back off the tension.

My dog has a Whistle GPS which tracks her activity and location when she leaves the zone I've set around my house. I love it for peace of mind, although I work from home now so I'm less worried about her getting out during the day (her adopted sister was a Houdini dog with separation anxiety). It's helped with health, too, as when her activity dropped a couple years ago, I took her in to the vet and she had an easy-to-treat tick-borne illness that causes fatigue.

Pet enrichment is a huge thing! Mental stimulation will wear them out faster and easier than long and strenuous hikes, or running (which you should wait on pavement until they're old enough that their hips won't suffer).

I love the Lickimat - slather peanut butter, wet dog food, or anything mushy on it and freeze. It takes them a while to lick it all out of the spaces and it's a good mental workout plus a good way to cool down on a hot day.

I use a silicone curry-comb (bought at Tractor Supply) for my single-coated short-hair dog. She loves the massage it gives her.

Get them used to having their claws clipped early - just barely cut the tips off reasonably often so they don't learn that it's scary or unusual.

You'll also want to get solid recall ("Come!") in as early as possible. Sophia Yin wrote a lot of good books and resources on gentle and positive rewards to build behaviors that you want.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:50 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're into subscription boxes (or if your friends/family don't gift you a "Happy Puppy!" subscription), try Barkbox. Note that Target is now selling many of the toys that come in Barkboxes. This month's theme, at least at Target, is NYC. I picked up a squeaky bagel-with-lox, NY cup of coffee, and a squirrel in a cop uniform named Officer Pupke that my dogs love.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Both of my dogs have been super strong chewers and I have a couple sources for chewing toys:

- Ball-type toys, Chuck-It Ultra Balls are amazing. I still have some of our original ones. The only ones they've been able to destroy are ones with weird shapes. Buy them to be a little large for your dog's mouth.

- Chewing toys: Goughnuts will replace the toy if your dog can chew into the inner red portion. My Goughnuts Power Stick and Power Ring (same listing) are pristine (except for slobber and dog hair) after 5 years with both my own and my friends' dogs.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:57 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Little Dog Lola has had Bear since she was 6 months old. He is still alive and carried on walks at age 3. He's tough and snuggly and one of her favorite toys of all time.
posted by teleri025 at 9:02 AM on June 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

In 12 or so years we have had three Everlasting Treat Balls (which we don't use with treats, just for playing ball). The first one dry-rotted after 7+ years in the Texas and then SoCal sun. The second was lost in a move. The third one is outside in the food bowl, which is "home base" in the game the dog made up. We bought him the original ball in puppyhood after he ate all his toys, two couches, and part of a chair. It's a very tough ball.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Our 30 pound dogs favorite toy. So much so that when our local farm supply quit carrying them, we order in bulk from amazon. not totally indestructible but lasts longer than most, squeaks, bounces when you throw it and if he wants, he can carry it around by the tail.
posted by domino at 10:31 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, also, there are only 2 plushies Special Beast has not destroyed:

This hedgehog burrow. It's 3 stuffed, squeaky hedgehogs that you shove into a little plush burrow. Then the doggie can dig the hedgehogs out just like they're squeakers in regular toys. She loves pulling the hedgehogs out of the burrow as much as she loves destroying other toys to get to their squeakers, but she also will just run around squeaking a hedgehog without trying to destroy it (I think because they have no limbs, they don't provide any obviously leverage points). The hedgehogs are also good for playing fetch in the house.

A bright pink bunny rabbit I bought at the Dollar Tree around Easter. It is not a dog toy. It has no squeaker, but she will still happily tooth it for ages. But I think because there's nothing to dig out, she doesn't feel a need to rip out its beating, squeaking heart. This was sitting in a bag of baby shower props on the dining room table, and she pulled it out TWICE, at which point I said, "OK, you clearly love this, it is now yours."
posted by natabat at 10:59 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Apartment, you say? Are you worried about the noise of toys for your downstrairs neighbors? You need orbee-tuff (I'm a particular fan of the interactive line and the produce). Even kongs are too loud (my guy likes to drop them repeatedly to try to dislodge things) on our floors but the rubbery orbee material is practically silent. It's supposed to be pretty durable, but I know power chewers can get through it - so it may not be appropriate for the puppy stage, but awesome for adults.

Also BarkBox is 100% worth it. You can often find a promo code for an extra toy in your box, so maybe hold out for that. You'll have such a variety of toys, it'll be so fun, you don't even know.
posted by mosst at 11:06 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rawhide is now a no-go (unhealthy, can lead to blockages, heavily chemically processed etc) My dog has accepted antler chews as an acceptable substitute.
posted by ananci at 11:34 AM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Just a note that while the Webmaster does not have a front clip, the Front Range harness does and is about as sturdy as they make them - but a puppy should be trained well to begin with, not to pull.
posted by Nyx at 4:07 PM on June 21, 2018

In addition to the great recommendations above, I like Hear Doggy ultrasonic toys, especially if you're concerned about noise. They squeak at a level humans can't hear, but dogs can. I know, I was skeptical at first too, but my dogs love them and perk right up when I squeeze them like they do with standard squeaky toys. But all I hear is a light puff of air.
posted by thejanna at 11:26 AM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

If your dog is a heavy chewer/destroyer, I recommend Tuff brand toys and Westpaw Zogoflex as toys that are super sturdy and also fun for the dog.
posted by radioamy at 8:05 AM on June 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

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