Gear | Gear Gear en-us Thu, 08 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 Thu, 08 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 Orion <![CDATA[Liberty Wristband Claims Hands-Free Walks -- Monkey Puts It to the Test]]> Some days I just want to take my 140-pound Saint Bernard on a leisurely walk that's focused purely on his happiness. But, um, let's be real. Those days are few and far between because I'm a busy city girl who juggles a bazillion things and never ever doesn't have some type of errand that needs to be run. Which means that more often than not, Monkey's walks happen around whatever it is I need to accomplish, whether it's picking up the dry cleaning, grabbing a coffee, or sending a text message.

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The only problem with this plan is that, uh, Monkey weighs ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY POUNDS. And, fine, maybe sometimes likes to pull a little bit depending on if he sees a squirrel. Or a dog. Or a person. Or a tree. Or, fine, a tree branch. Which makes walking him while holding piping hot coffee slightly precarious to say the least. And don't even get me started on how he always needs to poop right AFTER I get the coffee, which means I'm usually resting it on the top of some stranger's car (thanks, strangers!), and then, my favorite part: walking with the leash in one hand (and the Saint Bernard at the end of it) and a coffee and a ginormous bag of poop in the other.

Basically, I should join a circus.

All of this is a long way of saying that when I was told about the Liberty Wristband, a device that would allow me to walk Monkey hands-free, I was like, "Um, there's no way this will ever work, but let me pretty please try it anyway, because ohmygod, what if it did?"

A girl can dream, can't she?

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The Liberty Wristband is made of soft neoprene and has a super-strong fastening device (and a manual quick-release just in case) that attaches to any size leash for hands-free dog walking. In theory, it also helps relieve a stressed hand or wrist (from gripping a leash) and transitions that shock absorption to your stronger, bendable arm. Cost? $29.99.

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Unfortunately, it wasn't a great fit for Monkey and me for several reasons:

  1. Though we work on it every day, Monkey still pulls. This was the biggest issue, as having his leash attached to my wrist didn't allow me to use my entire body to stop the pulling.
  2. When Monkey was walking nicely next to me (which he does a lot of the time -- good boy!), the leash dragged on the ground.
  3. I didn't feel like I could control where Monkey was going, which is a problem in the city, where I often need to move him out of the way of passing pedestrians. It felt like the Liberty Wristband put the control in Monkey's paws, although I do think perhaps that could be corrected with practice. (It doesn't feel natural to use one's wrist instead of just grabbing the leash.)

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That's my wrist getting pulled pretty hard. Luckily, the neoprene is very soft.

That being said, I'm definitely not saying that the Liberty Wristband wouldn't be an awesome buy for someone with a smaller dog who doesn't pull, because I think it could be. In that case, though, I would suggest using a shorter leash to keep your dog close to your side (as I personally believe he should be) on walks. 

I can also see using the Liberty Wristband when I take Monkey to the beach or the park and there's nowhere to tether him. It seems like a much better option than the weird "I'll loop his leash around my ankle and try not to let my foot come off the ground" technique I'm still trying to perfect.

Ultimately, even though the Liberty Wristband is made for dogs of all sizes, I do think Monkey is just too big (and too young -- he's only 16 months, so we've still got some puppy pulling/training time ahead of us) for me to feel comfortable walking him without having my hands firmly on his leash. Looks like these callouses I'm building up aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

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Monkey says, "Meh..."

Dogster scorecard for the Liberty Wristband

  • Quality: It's sturdy with waterproof neoprene and water-resistant nylon materials. It also has waterproof-grade aluminum with all stainless steel springs and components. Clearly very well made. Keeping all of that in mind, $29.99 seems like a very fair price.
  • Style: I mean, it's a neoprene wristband, so let's not get crazy here. Still, considering that, it's pretty subtle. More so than I thought. Let's put it this way: I didn't feel like a huge dork wearing it outside. Which is the only place you'd be wearing it, so ... that's a plus.
  • Function: The wristband adjusts with Velcro to fit any size wrist. I have bizarrely tiny wrists, and it was snug and comfy. The fastening device was very secure. I didn't worry about Monkey "escaping" even for a second. That being said, it was just a little too hard to walk a big, strong dog with a tendency to pull. 
  • Creativity: Love the idea. It's definitely a product I think every dog owner has dreamed about on many a walk.

Bottom line

I would definitely give this as a gift to a friend with a smaller dog who's good on a leash. Sadly, it was not a great fit for my 140-pound Saint Bernard.

Read more reviews:

About the Author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/liberty-wristband-hands-free-dog-walking-device-review
<![CDATA[Holiday Gifts That Work Well Into the New Year]]> The greatest trick Martha Stewart ever pulled was convincing us to buy tacky Christmas sweaters for our pets.

Though I understand on a rational level that neither my dogs nor my cat need holiday-appropriate gear, I cannot resist adorable, pet-sized Christmas scarves. No matter how many times I tell myself that it just doesn't make sense to buy a dog bed in the shape of Rudolph's head -- my dogs sleep on my bed anyway -- every year, I break down and buy Christmas-y items such as that for one or all of my pets.

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Angie with one of her non-holiday-themed Christmas presents, a stuffed Direwolf.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, says Kira.

This year wasn't so different, but at least I took a more savvy approach.

In an effort to keep from accumulating a bunch of December-specific dog items, I decided not to deprive my pups of holiday cheer but to only purchase items that could be used well into the new year. There were more options than I had anticipated. Of course, I didn't get them all (my husband is a Grinch), but here are my top finds if you would like to do the same in the clearance aisle.

Going green

Nothing screams "Christmas!" like the classic red-and-green combo, but separate the hues from each other, and they're just colors. Kelly green is especially cheerful, no matter what the season.

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From left to right: Martha Stewart Holiday Doughnut Bed, Hello Kitty Plush Dog Bone Toy, and Nylabone Dinosaur Holiday Dog Toy.

This Hello Kitty toy barely looks related to Christmas. Sure, put it next to a couple of red balls, and you have a festive canine gift set, but alone it's just green (and very cute). The Martha Stewart dog bed might radiate holiday cheer with a few red accent pillows, but by itself it looks positively mod. And though nothing brings tidings of comfort and joy quite like dinosaurs, I'm pretty sure you could pass these off as non-holiday toys after the tree comes down.

Choosing Less tacky Christmas Sweaters

Tacky Christmas sweater parties are fun and all, but I doubt your dog attended one this year. Instead of dressing Fido up as a tree, these more understated options are stylish until spring (this applies to socks as well).

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From left to right: Martha Stewart Pets Cable Sweater, Petco Holiday Socks for Dogs, and Martha Stewart Pets Houndstooth Barn Sweater.

Both sweaters by Martha are chic and subtle enough for your pet to wear all winter long. The cable sweater looks super cozy, and who can resist a hound in houndstooth? (No one, that's who.) Socks on a dog may seem ridiculous, but moving to a colder climate (from Florida to Oregon) has taught me that my pups need to bundle up almost as much as I do. The socks may be a little on the Christmas-y side, but they're plaid; plaid knows no season in Oregon.

Embracing teal

It seems like Disney's Frozen is everywhere and resistance is futile. I'm not suggesting you dress up your pup as Olaf, but I am suggesting you lean into the less-than-traditional teal color family. Somehow, teal manages to look appropriate in both winter and spring.

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From upper-left, clockwise: Martha Stewart Pets Fur Cape, Harry Barker Penguin Dog Toy, Harry Barker Retro Sock Canvas Dog Toy, and Harry Barker Canvas Log Fetch Toy.

First of all, can we talk about this cape? Somewhere between Elsa and Anna Karenina, this dramatic yet cozy piece is almost enough to make your dog exclaim "The cold never bothered me anyway!" (I say "almost" because even a fabulous cape can't grant your dog the power of speech.)

The yule log, vintage socks, and penguins are all from Harry Barker, and somehow manage to walk the fine line between "charmingly refined" and "too precious for a dog's mouth." I almost want those penglings for myself.

Trying a different holiday

Kira, who is technically my husband's dog, was raised in a Jewish home, and thus prefers a menorah to a Christmas tree. If you have a pooch in you life like Kira, you can avoid red and green entirely and go straight for the blue stuff.

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Left to right: Petco Holiday Hanukkah Kosher Bone Dog Toy, Multipet Look Who's Talking Gefilte Fish -- Oy Vey!

I love both of these toys so much. Their bold blue colors look properly celebratory, but they aren't technically seasonal. Neither gefilte fish nor keeping kosher are Hanukkah-specific.

If you love a pun (and I do) may I also suggest these?

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"Chewish" Hanukkah Dog Toys.

"Chewish," guys. "Chewish."

So these are my finds. None of these items need to be chucked out with the tree or stored with the wreath.

What did your pup get for Christmas? Did you dress him or her in a tacky sweaters? Post photos in the comments!

Hitting the post-holiday sales? Use these as your guide:

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/holiday-gifts-christmas-hanukkah-dog-toys-beds-sweaters
<![CDATA[Interior Designer Kari Whitman Makes Custom Dog Beds to Fund Her Rescue ]]> When it come to humans, Los Angeles-based interior designer Kari Whitman's client list can certainly be described as A-list. She's created spaces for Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell, Emilio Estevez, and other stars, but the dogs she's creating new futures for are far from famous. As the founder of Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue, Whitman saves unwanted pups from death row.
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"I just pulled four dogs today, a Pointer and her puppy, and a couple little Terriers," she explains during an interview she managed to squeeze into an already jam-packed schedule. "They were all going to die today."

Those dogs now join the thousands who have been saved through Ace of Hearts over the years. Whitman's rescue has given many animals the gift of a future, and her skills as a designer are helping to fund the rescue of even more pets thorough her eco-friendly dog bed line, Greener Pup.

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This lucky pup is Maddie, one of the Terriers saved by Whitman's organization.

Whitman says using dogs beds to fund dog rescue was an idea that evolved from a request she received frequently during her interior design work.

"A lot of my clients were asking me to make custom beds for their house that match the rooms," she says.

After realizing the appetite for quality dog beds amongst her clients, Whitman launched the non-profit Greener Pup five years ago while working with a similarly eco-minded celebrity.

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The custom bed Whitman designed for Jessica Alba's adorable dogs. (Photo courtesy of Kari Whitman Interiors)

"I started Greener Pup when I was doing Jessica Alba's house," she explains. "I wanted to make her some really cool dog beds."

After incorporating the eco-friendly bed design into the star's home, Whitman quickly expanded on the project, sourcing recycled materials to make her Greener Pup beds as green as possible.

"The inside of the bed is filled with recycled plastic bottles," says the designer, who uses a technique similar to a cotton candy machine to turn the plastic into fluffy bedding. "We use anywhere from 100 to 150 plastic bottles that would have been dumped in the landfills."

Using plastic as a stuffing material is not only good for the environment, it's also good for the dogs. The plastic is hypoallergenic, so dogs don't get itchy. Whitman says dust mites and fleas can't live on it either.

While the inside of the beds are stuffed with plastic, the outside of the beds feature high-end fabric seconds, which also would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

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A beautiful Bulldog relaxes on a Greener Pup bed finished in the signature earth fabric. (Photo courtesy of Greener Pup's Facebook Page)

"The earth fabric is our signature fabric, and all the other fabrics are unique fabrics donated by fabric companies. You can choose your own cover," says Whitman. "We just get whatever we get, and it sells out."

The production of the beds extends the life of the the recyclable materials, while the purchase of them extends the life of shelter dogs. Every cent of Greener Pup's profits funds Ace of Hearts. The rescue organization -- created in the memory of Whitman's own rescue dog, Ace -- focuses on rescuing shelter dogs scheduled for euthanasia.

"L.A. has the highest kill rate in the country: 500 dogs a day," says Whitman.

The profits from the Greener Pup dog beds are helping Ace of Hearts save dogs slated for euthanasia by moving them out of shelters and into loving foster homes until their forever homes are found.

"When you purchase a bed, you get a letter saying where the money goes," Whitman explains. "Usually it's about one particular dog."

The organization typically has about 70 dogs in foster care. Some of the dogs need a lot of care, including special medical needs.

Whitman's own dog, Hank the Tank, is one of the ones with special needs. The 165-pound Mastiff moves with the help of a cart. He requires a great deal of care and attention, which is why he is her only dog.

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Hank relaxes while surrounded by an artfully designed interior. (Photo courtesy of Kari Whitman Interiors)

Hank is certainly a big boy, but Whitman and the rest of the team at Ace of Hearts are used to dealing with larger-breed dogs. "We specialize in American Bulldogs because Ace was American Bulldog-Staffordshire mix," she explains.

Whitman obviously has a soft spot in her heart for larger bully breeds, but her beds are giving breeds of all sizes a soft place to rest. According to the Greener Pup website, her company wants all dogs to get a good night sleep, regardless of their family’s financial status. That's why Greener Pup offers a 20-percent discount to dog owners receiving government assistance. Greener Pup's website also offers 25 percent off to dog owners purchasing a bed for a rescue dog.

Through Greener Pup, Whitman is helping plenty of dogs get the best sleep of their lives, and through Ace of Hearts, she's helping rescue dogs find new lives. Her stylish efforts to save the environment while saving dogs make Whitman a hero to people and pups alike.

Meet more Dogster Heroes:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/kari-whitman-greener-pup-dog-rescue-eco-friendly-dog-beds
<![CDATA[Check Out Lilikoi and Rella, Doggy Supermodels ]]> Lilikoi and Rella are two fluff-ball Pomeranians who like to bill themselves as "doggy supermodels." It's a lofty claim, but one quick glance through their online lookbook confirms their assertion, as these Hawaiian-born pups dress up in some of the most vivid and fantastical outfits around.

Here's a radiant run-through of Lilikoi and Rella's most eye-catching pics.

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(All photos courtesy of Lilikoi and Rella's Facebook page)

Sometimes the Facebook photo caption says it all: "What can we get you to drink? Pomtinis and Mutt-Tais are our favorite drink! Pomalicious!"

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When the mood strikes, Lilikoi and Rella like to dress up as world famous Spameranians. They even have an acronym for the foodstuff that breaks down as Super, Pomtastic, Amazing, and Musubis!

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The weather outside might be frightful, but these pups are sure delightful.

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Christmas in Hawaii involves sand Santas!

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Two Poms in a bag that also features pictures of another six Pom pups is truly pomtastic, as Lilikoi and Rella would say.

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All blinged and bedazzled up but with nowhere to go!

Check out more pix we love:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/pomeraniams-lilikoi-rella-cute-dog-pictures
<![CDATA[With Slobber Dog Toys, Teen Entrepreneur Gives Back to Homeless Pets]]> While most eight-year-old boys might spend their free time playing video games, hanging out with friends, riding bikes, or playing sports, animal lover Cole Amyx decided to start his own dog toy company. Like most entrepreneurs, the idea for his business came from seeing a need and trying to fill it -- in this case, finding inexpensive and long-lasting toys for his beloved dogs, Jack and Dixie.

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"I wanted to buy some toys for my dogs, but they were expensive and didn't last," says Cole, now 16. "My mom worked part-time at a tennis club, so she would bring home tennis balls, and our dogs really liked playing with them. We thought we could make a better toy than the ones at the store, so we decided to makes our own by running fabric through holes punched in the tennis balls. We used fleece because we found out it’s good for dogs' teeth and helps keep them clean."

Like any strategic businessperson, Cole made sure to test his products on prospective customers -- in this case, Jack and Dixie, who went crazy chewing and playing tug of war with the toys. In fact, Jack loved the toys so much he'd slobber profusely whenever he played with them. And thus, Slobber Dog Toys was born.

Many good businesses start out small, so Cole decided to first sell his toys at the local dog park in his hometown of Houston, testing out the waters and seeing how much interest he'd generate. It wasn't until he saw a TV program about homeless animals that Cole was inspired to take his venture to another, more meaningful level.

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Cole at age 9 with his late dog Jack, the inspiration for Slobber Dog toys. (All photos courtesy of Cole Amyx)

"Not long after I started selling the toys, I was watching a show on Animal Planet where these starving dogs were eating leaves and twigs to survive," says Cole. "It really unsettled me, because I don't think any living thing should be hungry and thirsty. So I thought I should donate part of my proceeds to help animals with food and shelter, and hopefully I would make a difference."

Determined to help any way he could, Cole promptly reached out to the Houston SPCA, Citizens for Animal Protection, and BARC Animal Shelter & Adoptions, and he offered to donate one dollar from the sale of every toy to help the animals in their care.

"I thought it would be a good option to help organizations in my local community because Houston is my home and I want to make it a better place," says Cole. "[The organizations] have been very grateful and happy for all the help. Sometimes I donate the money to help a particular dog that needs heartworm treatments or surgery, so they can get healthy and get adopted."

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Jack enjoyed his role as product tester for Slobber Dog Toys.

Eight years later, he says he's sold about 4,000 toys, with $4,000 funneled into Houston's animal welfare community.

So what do his friends and family think about Cole's business and philanthropic efforts? Soft-spoken and humble, Cole says he doesn't like to tell his friends about Slobber Dog because he doesn't want to appear as if he's bragging. But according to Kathleen Amyx, her son's good works haven't gone unnoticed with his family or at his school.

"Cole's aunt and godmother teaches accounting at his high school, and she often uses him as an example in her class," says Kathleen. "She'll pull up his website for her students to look at and say, 'this eight-year-old created this dog toy business, and [now] he goes to school here.' That way, the students can make a connection [with what they're learning] and see that it's real."

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Cole, now 16, and his dog Eddie.

But when the local news media got wind of Cole's charitable activities and featured him in a news story that aired nationally, that's when Slobber Dog orders began really taking off.

"Our orders were crazy after that, and it was a lot of work," says Cole. "We even got some orders from Canada!"

While sales have since tapered down as Cole's attention has turned to the demands of schoolwork and college applications, he hopes to continue running Slobber Dog and helping homeless animals well into the foreseeable future. But whatever may come of his toy venture, Cole says that the learning experience has been invaluable to him at such a young age.

"Aside from learning how to help the community and being generous, I've learned a lot about how business works, about handling money and managing stuff," he says. "Right now, I can't really say for sure where Slobber Dog is going to go in the future, but I'd like to keep it around as long as I can."

You can help him do that, as well as help homeless dogs in Houston, by shopping at Slobber Dog Toys. The small toy costs just $4, and the large $5.

Meet more Dogster Heroes:

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:45:00 -0800 /lifestyle/slobber-dog-toys-cole-amyx-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[10 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts for Dog Lovers and Their Dogs]]> If you're looking for eco-friendly holiday gift ideas for the dog lovers and dogs in your life, check out these 10 recommendations.

1. Quencher Travel Bowl from Ruffwear

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For a dog on the go, the Quencher collapsible travel bowl is the perfect eco-friendly companion. Made with recycled polyester, it's also convenient and practical. The travel bowl is waterproof, lightweight, and machine washable, and it folds into a compact size that fits easily into a pocket or a pack. Available in three different sizes, it's the ideal gift for a dog who hikes with his human.

$14.95 at Ruffwear

2. Orbee-Tuff Lil' Bulb with Treat Spot
 from Planet Dog

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Any pup's eyes would light up like a holiday tree upon unwrapping these Orbee-Tuff Lil' Bulbs. Although they look like vintage Christmas lights, these non-toxic, eco-friendly, and recyclable toys are tough and durable. Slip a special holiday snack into the treat spot, and this gift keep a pup busy during the holiday dinner.

$9.95 at Planet Dog

3. Bungee Bone from the Good Dog Company

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Engage the recipient in a friendly game of tug-of-war with the Bungee Bone. This durable dog toy is made with hemp and organic cotton fabric, and filled with 100-percent naturally grown, unprocessed hemp fiber. It's also machine washable, so simply toss it in the wash when it gets dirty.

$18.99 at the Good Dog Company

4. Hemp Star Dog Lead from Muttropolis

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Move over VY Canis Majoris because there's a new star in the sky. While it might not be a red hypergiant star, the Hemp Star Dog Lead will boldly go wherever its wearer wants to walk. The eco-friendly leash features triple-layer, 100-percent hemp-canvas construction with contoured, quick-release hardware. Available in two lengths (four feet and six feet) and three color combinations, you're sure to find the right fit to give.

$29 to $35 at Muttropolis

5. Big Sky Reindeer from West Paw Design

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The Big Sky Reindeer is handcrafted in the USA from excess fabric. This dog toy is soft and fuzzy on the outside, and it features a sewn-in squeaker and recycled-fiber fill on the inside. It's the perfect stocking stuffer for a furry best friend, but this cheery red reindeer is only available while supplies last as it's part of West Paw Design's seasonal collection, so get it ASAP.

$19.95 from West Paw Design

6. Safari Rectangle Dog Bed from Harry Barker

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A dog would feel like a pampered pooch on Harry Barker's Safari Rectangle Hemp Dog Bed. With its decadent print and expansive surface, this dog bed is like a king-size human bed at a four-star hotel. The stylish luxury also doesn't sacrifice practicality or eco-friendliness. The bed's stuffing is made from recycled plastic bottles, and the hemp cover is preshrunk and machine washable.

$150 and up at Harry Barker

7. Winter Wonderland Organic Gift Box from Paw Street Bakery

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The holidays are always filled with tasty treats, and there's no reason why Fido should miss out on the fun. Paw Street Bakery offers a delightful Winter Wonderland sampler gift box filled with organic, carob-dipped dog treats, such as Peanut Butter Pup Cups, Star Shaped Big Dippers, and Peanut Butter Pup Cup Barkscotti. Each treat is baked using human grade ingredients and sprinkled with love.

$11.99 and up from Paw Street Bakery

8. ecoFLEX Rustic Lodge at Home Depot

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This outdoor dog house will shelter a furry pal from both hot and cold weather. The ThermoCore Super Insulated Dog House is made with ecoFLEX, a composite blend of post-consumer recycled polymers and wood fibers. It's resistant to pests, rot, weather, and moisture. 

$169 and up at Home Depot

9. Quinzee Insulated Dog Jacket from Ruffwear

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The sleek and stylish Quinzee insulated dog jacket is the doggy version of the puffy coat. It has a 40-percent recycled-polyester shell along with 50-percent recycled-synthetic insulation to provide extra protection from cold weather. The jacket also features side-release buckles for easy on and off as well as reflective trim for staying safe on nighttime walks. Tuck one of these under the holiday tree and the dog who gets it will be extra excited to head outside.

$84.85 at Ruffwear

10. Recycled rubber "Fetch" placemat at Ore Originals

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Made in the USA from recycled rubber, this placemat is a whimsical yet practical gift for the dog lover in your life. It comes in two sizes for both small and big dogs alike, and its non-slip surface holds bowls in place while protecting your floor from spills.

$19 at Ore Originals

Share your gift suggestions! 

Found any great gifts for dogs and their owners? Share the bounty in the comments!

Read more holiday gift guides on Dogster:

About Holly Tse: Holly Tse is a green cat expert and lifelong environmentalist. Practicing Taoist and Dragon Spirit Guide who has experienced more than nine past lives and can bend reality at will.  Totally into alternative healing, but her Achilles' heel is reality TV cooking shows. As a Canadian expat, she uses an American spell checker for her Catster articles.

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/eco-friendly-holiday-gifts-dog-lovers-dogs-christmas-hanukkah
<![CDATA[11 Games and Gadget Gifts for Techie Dog Lovers ]]> The holiday season is in full swing, and these days that means there are new tech toys and games for you and your favorite pups to check out. Whether dog-themed downloadable apps for fun and research or new electronic devices to help improve the quality of play sessions, here are 11 digital diversions -- both long-loved favorites and new-to-the-market items -- to give as gifts or keep for yourself.

1. Dog TV

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Do you dream of a cable TV station created especially for canine viewers? Well, Dog TV is just that, offering what is billed as "thought-provoking content" for the modern dog. This would make an excellent gift for yourself and the pups in your home.

$6.99 and up at; the channel also airs on DIRECTV

2. PAW Patrol Rescue Run

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Run and jump along with the Paw Patrol team of super pups in this cartoonish game based on the Nickelodeon franchise.

$3.99 at iTunes and Google Play

3. Kinectimals Unleashed

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Take control of one of 85 four-legged furries and explore the canine isle of Villeria in this expansive sandbox game.

Free (with in-app purchases) at iTunes and Windows

4. PetCube Camera

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The PetCube Camera box offers a fresh twist on the world of Wi-Fi-enabled dog cameras by allowing you to engage in exercise sessions with your pet. Wondering how it works? Simple, you download the app on your phone and control a laser pointer that your dog can chase! 

$199 at PetCube

5. Pet Vet Doctor - DOGS Rescue

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Fulfill your secret desire to become a master of the veterinarian sciences in this canine-centric medical simulation game.

Free (with in-app purchases) at the App Store and Google Play

6. PetziConnect Treat Cam

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Thanks to the wonders of Wi-Fi, the PetziConnect Treat Cam lets you stay in touch with your beloved dog even while you're away at work. Through the built-in HD camera, you can take a peek at your pooch, record video, and even facilitate a quick treat session!

$169.99 and up at PetziConnect's IdieGogo page

7. Sunburn!

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This tricky new game co-stars a space cadet pup!

$2.99 at iTunes

8. Foobler

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The Foobler smart toy uses a mechanical alarm to time play sessions and treat at reward intervals.

$39.99 at Cynjo 

9. Weather Puppy

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Add Weather Puppy to your morning tech routine and enjoy daily weather dispatches presented by puppies.

Free (with in-app purchases) at the iTunes

10. iFetch

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Let iFetch help out when it comes to playtime with your dog, as this electronic toy flings out small balls for your pup to chase all day long. We tested it at Dogster!

$99.95 at iFetch

11. Bread Puppies

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A spin-off of the popular Bread Kittens game, Bread Puppies is a beguilingly bizarre collect-'em-all title set in the off-kilter world of Woofshire.

Free (with in-app purchases) at iTunes

Share your gift suggestions!

Found any great gifts for dogs and their owners? Share the bounty in the comments!

Read more holiday gift guides on Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-games-gadgets-holiday-gifts-christmas-hanukkah
<![CDATA[10 Holiday Gifts for Dogs and Owners Who Love the Outdoors]]> Is there an active dog on your holiday shopping list? Or an outdoors-loving dog owner? We've found 10 must-haves for adventurous pups and their people.

1. Activity-specific vest from Ruffwear

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A dog enjoying an adventure in one of Ruffwear's cold-weather coats. (Photo courtesy of Ruffwear.)

Depending on a pup's favorite activity, he needs the right vest to keep him safe.

  • Cooling vest -- My dog is black, we live in a hot climate, and we hike often. A cooling vest is a big help. There are a number of different kinds available, but the one we like the most is the Swamp Cooler from Ruffwear Performance Dog Gear. Ruffwear is a great brand for active pups.
  • High-visibility vest -- When I used to run with my pup, I would put him in a high-visibility vest. It would help drivers see both of us on dark streets. These vests are also good to have for hiking, especially if the dog is off-leash. 
  • Life vest  -- Just like humans, dogs who enjoy water sports should wear a well-fitting life vest.
  • Cold weather coat -- Depending on a pup's breed and the climate he lives in, a coat may be necessary to keep him comfortable while out on adventures. 

$40 to $80 at Ruffwear

2. Canteen and travel dog bowl from Kurgo

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Two pups enjoy a water break. (Photo courtesy of Kurgo.)

Kurgo is another great brand for active dogs, and it has a number of travel dog bowl options. My favorite is the Zippy Bowl. It's easy to collapse and tuck into a pup or human backpack. Add a carabiner to the zipper pull, and it can be attached to the back of a pack for easy and quick access. Pair a bowl with a canteen or stainless steel water bottle, and you have a great gift for an active pup!

$10 to $20 for travel bowls and $20 to $35 for canteens and water bottles at Kurgo

3. Dog car restraint from Sleepypod

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Sleepypod travel products. (Photo courtesy of Sleepypod.)

If a pup is going to be traveling in a car, a dog car restraint is a must. Sleepypod is a wonderful brand that does extensive stress and crash testing on its products. The Clickit Sport is the only dog car-restraint harness certified by the Center for Pet Safety. For smaller pups, the Sleepypod Air is a carrier that can be used both in the car and on airplanes, as it fits under the seat.

$65 for Clickit Sport and $160 for Sleepypod Air at Sleepypod

4. Outward Hound dog backpack from Kyjen

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Everyone carries their own! (Photo courtesy of Outward Hound.)

Why should the human do all the carrying? Let the pup be responsible for his supply of water, food, poop bags, and gear. Outward Hound packs can be found in many pet stores as well as online.

$35 to $55 at Kyjen

5. Walking harness or halter from Sporn

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Buddy the Beagle loves wearing his Sporn halter on the beach in Massachusetts! (Photo courtesy of Sporn.)

Not all trails allow dogs to be off-leash. For when you and your dog are out on an adventure and your pup needs to stay under leash control, a walking harness is extremely helpful. Sporn's Mesh Non-Pull Harness and Halter are lightweight, easy to put on, and help control pulling from overeager pups.

$10 to $25 at Sporn

6. Dog hiking guides from Mountaineers Books

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Young woman traveling with her dog by Shutterstock.

Hiking with your dog is a blast, but finding trail options where dogs are allowed sometimes limits your options. Dog hiking guides highlight hikes both in your area and in areas you may be visiting. Mountaineers Books has an entire series to check out. 

$10 to $17 at Mountaineers Books

7. Clean dog kit

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Dirty Spaniel wallowing in a mud hole by Shutterstock.

As someone who just took a pack of dogs out hiking in the rain, I can tell you that an active dog is a dirty dog! You can put together a "clean dog kit" to give as a gift -- include grooming wipes, shampoo, conditioner, spray deodorizer, and towels.

Cost depends on brands included and where you shop

8. Wearable safety lights from Keep Doggie Safe

If dogs are out and about at night, a safety light attached to the collar will make them easier to spot. When camping with my black dog, sometimes all you can see of him is a red light through the darkness. There are many different light options out there. Keep Doggie Safe is a great place to start your search. They have a number of lights available depending on the dog's size. 

$5 to $25 at Keep Doggie Safe

9. Traffic and training leads 

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German Shephered by Shutterstock.

While out on a walk or hike, it helps to have leashes that match the occasion. Traffic leashes are short, often just a loop that allows you to easily keep your dog close while in crowded places or on busy streets. Recall training leads are the exact opposite! They are long 10- to 50-foot leashes that can be used to help train a dog in recall or to help transition to off-leash walks.

$5 to $25 at Amazon 

10. First aid kit

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Puppy with first aid kit by Shutterstock.

If a dog is going to be out and about on adventures, then a first aid kit is a great gift to give the owner. You can create your own or purchase a pre-made one. The Humane Society has a complete list of what should be in a pet first aid kit.

$20 to $100 for pre-made kits on Amazon 

Happy gifting! 

Share your gift suggestions!

Found any great gifts for active, outdoors-loving dogs and their owners that you want to tell others about? Share the bounty in the comments! 

Read more gift guides on Dogster:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/holiday-gifts-active-outdoors-dog-owners-christmas-hanukkah-shopping
<![CDATA[Win an Ugly Holiday Sweater From New York Dog]]> Who doesn't love an ugly holiday sweater, whether worn with genuine pride or as an ironic fashion statement? Three lucky Dogster pups will join in on the festive fun with this week's Friday Freebie: ugly holiday sweaters from New York DogWe have three to give away!

The collection features five designs, including my favorite of a dog relieving himself on a snowman (because my punky pup would do exactly that if we were ever to get snow down here in Texas).

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Sweaters come in sizes extra-small (for dogs 9 to 11 inches in length), small (12 to 13 inches), medium (14 to 15 inches), large (16 to 18 inches), and extra-large (18 to 20 inches). They retail for $14.99 each, but you get a chance to win one for free! Just follow the directions below.

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us about how you spend the holidays with your dogs. Photos and following directions (don't forget to tell us which design and size you want!) will earn your entry bonus points. Our favorite comments win. You must be a resident of the U.S. to score this prize.
  3. Check your email for a "You've Won!" message from us after noon PST on Thursday, Dec. 11. We'll give each winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck!

Read more about dog products with Dogster:

Fri, 05 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/ugly-christmas-sweaters-dogs-new-york-dog-freebies-giveaways
<![CDATA[Win a Kathy Ireland “Loved Ones” Dog Prize Pack]]> Editor's note: This is a sponsored post from Kathy Ireland.

The Kathy Ireland “Loved Ones” pet product collection is designed to complement and fulfill all of your dog’s needs from naptime to playtime. These stylish products not only make your home look modern and stylish, they also play a part in your dog’s everyday life. Check out the full Kathy Ireland “Loved Ones” product line, and don’t forget to “like” the Kathy Ireland “Loved Ones” Facebook page for product announcements and special offers. Two readers will win a Dog Prize Pack to treat their dogs.

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Each of the Kathy Ireland “Loved Ones” Dog Prize Packs includes:

  • Hide & Seek Dog Toys
  • Durable Whale Dog Toy with Treat Pocket
  • Fashion Dog Collar with coordinating Fashion Dog Lead
  • Reversible Pet Travel Mat

How To Enter

Fill out the form below for the chance to win one of two Kathy Ireland Dog Prize Packs from Kathy Ireland Loved Ones. Entries close at 11:59 p.m. PDT on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. One entry per household. We'll choose one winner at the end of December and another at the end of January. 

Rules and Guidelines 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the United States and D.C. 18 years and older. Begins: 12 a.m. PDT on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. Ends: 11:59 p.m. PDT on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. Void where prohibited. One entry per household. Two winners will be chosen randomly using to receive a Kathy Ireland Dog Prize Pack. Winners will be notified via email.

Employees of Dogster, I-5 Publishing and Kathy Ireland Loved Ones (Sponsor) are not eligible to enter. Entries become the property of I-5 Publishing, which reserves the right, without further consideration, to use all materials in any publication, media and related promotions. The company cannot confirm receipt or return entries. Entry into this contest requires that you supply contact information, including your name and email address. We will never publish your street address or email address.

Your name — and possibly city, state and/or country — along with text or photos submitted as part of your entry, may be posted on Dogster’s website or other websites and social media pages owned or managed by I-5 Publishing in conjunction with the contest and its results, marketing purposes, and on sponsor websites and social media as well. Information you provide may be shared with the contest sponsor, which may use the information for marketing purposes, as well as to facilitate prize delivery. Dogster and I-5 Publishing are not responsible for removing your name from sponsor mailing lists should it end up on one. Such requests must be made directly to the sponsor. Winner will be contacted through an email from I-5 Publishing notifying them. Sponsor will contact winner by email to facilitate prize delivery. A non-response from a winner after repeated attempts by sponsor to contact him/her may be grounds for forfeiture of that winner’s prize. Prizes will be shipped directly from Kathy Ireland Loved Ones. Dogster and I-5 Publishing have the right to modify the rules and the contest at any time.

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:07:00 -0800 /lifestyle/win-kathy-ireland-loved-ones-dog-toys-treats-collars-prize-pack-freebies-giveaway
<![CDATA[Monkey the Saint Bernard Tests the Crypton Throver ]]> I understood a lot of things intellectually when I got Monkey -- namely that there would be a lot of shedding with a rough-coat Saint Bernard. But the thing with understanding something intellectually is ... until you're actually watching the tumbleweeds of dog hair roll across your floor, you just don't actually get it.

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I don't mind living in a world filled with Monkey hair, especially since I can always vacuum my apartment. (And oh, do I vacuum my apartment.) But my car is a whole other story. Before Monkey, I was the kind of girl whose car was always super clean and smelled really good. Now I'm the girl who rolls the windows down the second a friend sits in the front seat, but still gets the inevitable, "Wow, it ... really smells like dog in here."

Don't even get me started on the valet last week who was like, "Either you have a really interesting life or you have a really big dog." And that was just based on the slobber splatters on the exterior. He hadn't even gotten in the driver's seat yet.

The thing is: I'm not going to ever pick my car over Monkey. Duh. But I'm not going to lie: It would be kind of nice if it weren't quite so disgusting in there. And while there's nothing I can do about the slobber, I figured there at least had to be something I could do about the hair.

Enter the Crypton Throver. What is it? It's a dog throw, a tarp, a blanket; it's the solution to keeping my car at least a little cleaner, I hope.

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I don't totally understand how Crypton fabrics work (science!), but basically it's a magical fabric that is super strong and durable, stain resistant, and also really hard to get dirty or smelly. But how hard to get dirty and smelly is the question. Like, it's stain resistant, but is it Monkey resistant? I put it to the test.

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First of all, this was immediately AFTER a car wash, if that gives you any idea of how much hair was in there before, but they did the best they could and I wanted to start with a "clean" interior that smelled like new car (my car scent of choice).

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The Throver is 48 inches by 54 inches, which is the perfect size for my car when the seats are down. (The seats are always down.) I love the Mod Block design, but there are many others available. You can also tell when you touch the fabric how durable it is. Monkey would have a very hard time destroying this.

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The real test, though, was whether Monkey would immediately bunch it up into a ball, rendering it useless like he would a blanket or towel? Good news: The Throver is heavy enough that it stayed put for many car trips. And Monkey had no desire to chew on it, eat it, or do anything really except lie down on it.

We've only had the Throver in my car for a few weeks now, but so far it's made a huge difference. Especially on a recent trip to the beach. Monkey gets ... sandy. Sorry, let me try that again. Monkey gets SANDY. Like, soooooo much sand. And while the Throver doesn't help with the fact that Monkey has to go straight from the beach to the groomer, it did help in that I could just carefully take it out of my car, shake it out, and then throw it in the washing machine. Maybe now Monkey will get more trips to the beach.

Dogster scorecard for the Crypton Throver

  • Quality: A++. The Throver is made with Crypton fabric, which makes it stain, moisture, and odor resistant, and easy to clean.
  • Style: Super cute. There are tons of designs to choose from, so you're likely to find one that fits your personality. Plus, it's reversible.
  • Function: While I will likely just use my Throver as a blanket for Monkey in my car, it absolutely would make an awesome beach or picnic blanket. Or even a great blanket to throw over (throver!) furniture in your house.
  • Creativity: It's a blanket, so let's not get too carried away, but the idea and multi-purpose functionality make it a winner.
  • Value: Throvers range from $70 to $104, so they're not cheap. But the time and energy it's already saved me in cleaning my car makes it worth the price. And again, the fact that it has multiple uses makes it a good buy.

Bottom line

The Throver is incredibly durable and will make a great addition to any house that has kids or pets. Especially if those kids or pets are really, really furry.

Read more Dogster reviews:

About the Author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/saint-bernard-crypton-throver-review-dog-car-seat-covers
<![CDATA[Can the Slo-Bowl Stop My Saint Bernard From Gobbling His Food?]]> Monkey, my 14-month-old Saint Bernard, can be a little weird about food. Unlike many dogs, he does not scarf down his entire bowl of kibble as soon as it's put in front of him. Rather, Monkey ignores it, pushes it around with his nose for a while, or in some circumstances, waits hours and hours to eat it. (My vet said it's cool as long as he digs in eventually, which, of course, he always does.)

Still, when I was given a chance to let him try out the Slo-Bowl, I was excited. See, Monkey may take forever to get around to eating, but once he starts, he gobbles. And Saint Bernards are anatomically predisposed to canine bloat, which can be caused by eating too fast.

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The Slo-Bowl.

Plus, when Monkey was in puppy kindergarten, one of the first things we were taught was how to make a game out of eating. Only problem: I'm super lazy, so I never actually do the whole thing where I put the food into a toy, and I also hate how almost all of the toys require him to send food shooting across the floor, effectively making a huge mess that he may not decide to "clean up" (with his mouth) for hours.

The Slo-Bowl, however, sounded perfect AND easy for me to use, but I'm not the one who has to eat from it. Ultimately, it was up to Monkey to see if he liked it.

The Slo-Bowl is a dish with a maze inside of it so dogs "chase" their food through all of the ridges and valleys -- like a hunt. And all I had to do was dump the food into it.

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I was a little worried that the Slo-Bowl wouldn't be able to hold all of Monkey's food, but it fits four cups of food (yes, my dog is a beast). There are smaller bowls for smaller dogs.

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At first Monkey was like, "Um, what is this thing, woman?"

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And then he had a staring contest with it.

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Eventually Monkey decided he was willing to at least check it out. After all, it had food inside of it, and he likes that stuff.

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Success! Once Monkey started eating from the Slo-Bowl, he was totally into it. No more nudging his food around with his face to make eating "fun." Also, I was worried the bowl would slip around the floor, but it has a non-slip rubber base that actually works whether the bowl is on Monkey's little mat or just on our tile floor. 

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Seriously: He loves his Slo-Bowl. Monkey's been eating out of it for a few weeks, and though he sometimes still waits an hour or two after I put his bowl down, I can tell that he enjoys mealtimes more than when he ate out of that stupid silver bowl that all of the other dogs have. In fact, that bowl is now in the cupboard gathering dust, and I don't see it making a comeback anytime soon (or ever).

Slo-Bowl is only $20 for a big bowl and $15 for a mini (my brother's Chihuahua has the mini, and she loves it), and you can throw it on the top rack of your dishwasher (although I've noticed it gets a lot less dirty than Monkey's previous bowl).

We spend so much money on stuff for our dogs in an attempt to make and keep them happy, and so many times we bring home the new toy or treat or whatever and they're just not interested. In this case, Monkey loves his new bowl, so if you want to slow down your dog's eating or even just make dinnertime a little more fun, the Slo-Bowl is well worth the 20 bucks.

Dogster scorecard for Slo-Bowl Slow Feeder

  • Quality: It's made from a durable plastic that does not contain BPA, PVC, or phthalates. And it really is non-slip.
  • Style: There are three colors/styles (orange, teal, and purple), each one with a different maze.
  • Function: The feeder is designed to slow your dog down at mealtime and to make a game out of eating.
  • Creativity: A lot of dog stuff can be kind of cheesy. I like the modern look of this, and best of all it works.
  • Value: It's $14.99 for a mini and $19.99 for a large. Well worth every penny.

The bottom line

The Slo-Bowl is a feeder that forces your dog to slow down when he eats by turning dinner into a fun game of hunting and scavenging.

Read more Dogster reviews:

About the Author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dogster-reviews-slo-bowl-saint-bernard
<![CDATA[Win a Neater Feeder and End Your Dog's Messy Mealtimes]]> Bits of wet food take flight when my dogs eat, landing on nearby walls and the floor. I recently purchased placemats for under their bowls, but Dolly and Spot also will be getting this week’s Friday Freebie: the Neater Feeder.

Check it out:

Not only does this feeder eliminate the mess -- blocking flying food and collecting any spilled water in the lower level -- its raised design makes for a more comfortable height at which to eat and drink.

The feeder with stainless steel bowls comes in two colors (bronze and cranberry) and in three sizes: 

  • Small for dogs up to 18 pounds and with a shoulder height of up to 9 inches; it holds 1.5 cups of food and 2.2 cups of water
  • Medium for dogs 15 to 40 pounds and with a shoulder height of 9 to 16 inches; it holds 3.5 cups of food and 5 cups of water
  • Large for dogs 35 to 100 pounds with a shoulder height of 15 to 21 inches; it holds 7 cups of food and 9 cups of water
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The Neater Feeder in Cranberry.

The Neater Feeder costs $37.98 to $59.99, depending on the size, but we have one to give to our messiest Dogster pup! Follow the instructions below for your chance to win.

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us about your messy eater. And don't forget to tell us which size and color of the feeder you want. Photos and following directions will earn your entry bonus points! Our favorite comments win. You must be a resident of the U.S. to score this prize.
  3. Check your email for a "You've Won!" message from us after noon PST on Thursday, Nov. 20. We'll give each winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck!

Learn more about dog products with Dogster:

Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/win-neater-feeder-freebies-giveaways
<![CDATA[How to Make a DIY Dog First-Aid Kit for Car Travel]]> Each year, about 30 million Americans take their pets along when they travel, with a whopping 76 percent traveling with their companion animals by car or other motor vehicle, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. The majority of the pets who hit the road are dogs, and those who plan to rove with Rover are well advised to plan ahead and take along certain first aid and safety items, and also to expect the unexpected.

First, learn how to securely restrain dogs in a vehicle

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It's very important to properly restrain dogs in motor vehicles. Photos from Kurgo and K9 Car Fence

Before I list the first aid items you should take along for car trips with your pooches, I can't overemphasize the importance of properly restraining dogs when traveling. Indeed, dogs who are permitted to sit on drivers' laps, poke their heads out of car windows and otherwise move freely about a vehicle are responsible for causing tens of thousands of accidents each year.

Aside from distracting drivers, AAA points out that in the event of a collision, your pooch can act as a furry projectile with forces of 500 pounds or more. Many states have passed pet restraint laws and will heavily fine drivers whose pets are not properly secured in a vehicle. In New Jersey (where I live), pet parents can be fined from $250 to $1,000 for traveling with pets who are not properly restrained.

There are now a wide number of pet car-restraint products on the market, such as those available from companies like Kurgo and K9 Car Fence (pictured above), just to name a few. So please research and invest in a sturdy restraint expressly designed for traveling by motor vehicle with dogs.

Now, let's get to your first aid kit:

Research dog first aid

The first things you should have in your dog first aid arsenal when traveling with canines by car is a good first aid manual. My friend and colleague Amy Shojai put out the comprehensive The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. There's also the handy "Pet First Aid" guide released by the American Red Cross, which is now available as an app. In addition, you should record the names, addresses and phone numbers of emergency veterinary facilities along your route and destination, as well as the number for a pet poison control hotline. The ASPCA operates a 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center helpline at (888) 426-4435.

Items for your DIY dog car first aid kit

As I have traveled with pets by car on numerous occasions, I put together my own first aid kits with items I bought at dollar stores, pharmacies, and health food stores and keep them in a waterproof tote. You could also purchase a cute waterproof fabric lunch carrier with a dog motif so that you can easily store and identify this among your other travel effects. You might want to buy travel sizes or smaller travel bottles, which are less bulky, to store supplies in the kit.

Among the items your dog first aid kit should contain are:

*A very important note about hydrogen peroxide: Always check with a poison control hotline before administering this, as some toxic substances should not be regurgitated.

My good friend, holistic veterinarian/author Dr. Cathy Alonovi of Indiana -- who helped to develop a pet first aid kit for BARF World -- also recommends adding some homeopathic apis for insect bites to your doggie kit. She further suggests the natural Bach Flower calming aid Rescue Remedy, and pure lavender oil to lightly sprinkle on a favorite blanket to soothe nervous dogs.

In addition, it's a good idea to take along a supply of inexpensive wash cloths and a liquid soap such as castile, which is natural, safe and gentle, for cleaning cuts and abrasions, as well as dirty paws and other soiled doggie body parts. It's best to avoid baby wipes, because these often contain harsh chemicals that may irritate a dog's skin.

Water should be a part of your dog travel supplies

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Be sure to bring water from home or bottled water, to prevent upset doggie tummies. German shepherd dog drinking water during summer heat by

This is one suggestion you might not even have considered. It's important to bring along water from home, as pooches (and other pets, for that matter) may develop upset tummies from drinking water that they are not used to. Or you could bring along bottled water. Don't forget to pack some collapsible bowls for the water, and be sure to clean them thoroughly after each use.

Hitting the road with pooches can be a real adventure, and great fun -- as long as you plan ahead, bring the right supplies and anticipate the unexpected.

Now that you're set, get tips on traveling with your dog:

About the author: Alissa Wolf is an award-winning journalist and animal lover whose very first pet was an irrepressible toy poodle named Peppy, whose favorite hobby was going "bye-bye" in the family car. 

Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-health-travel-tips-first-aid-kit-car-diy
<![CDATA[Win a Doorbell Your Dog Can Use From Cat & Hound]]> Not all homes can have a doggie door. In our previous rental, French doors led to the backyard, making the patio-door insert I own useless, and the landlord wasn't keen on me cutting into an exterior wall.

I would let Spot and Dolly out to nap in the sun, then pop out of my office every 15 minutes or so to see if they were ready to come back inside. They didn't bark or scratch, just politely stared through the glass.

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Dolly Thought Bubble: Hellooooo, we'd like to come in now. Pretty please with sugar on top? Spot Thought Bubble: Ring the doorbell. Oh, that's right, we don't have one.

This Friday Freebie would have allowed me more uninterrupted work time! The Cat & Dog Doorbell from Cat & Hound features a wireless sensor for outside the door and a receiver you place inside the home. When your dog trips the sensor, a light flashes on the receiver with an accompanying sound. There are 10 sounds to choose from, with adjustable volume and even a silent mode, say for if you have a sleeping baby in the house.

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The Cat & Dog Doorbell costs around $27.

Cat & Hound has generously offered to give one Dogster reader his or her own Dog Doorbell! Simply follow the instructions below for a chance to win.

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us why your pup needs this doorbell. Are you unable to install a doggie door? Or do you worry about what or who might come through it other than you pet? Perhaps you would like to keep the door from getting scratched? Bonus points for photos! Our favorite comments win. You must be a U.S. resident to score this prize.
  3. Check your email for a "You've Won!" message from us after noon PST on Thursday, Oct. 16. We'll give each winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

Fri, 10 Oct 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/win-dog-doorbell-cat-and-hound-freebies-giveaway
<![CDATA[Ace Takes the Lavien Leather Dog Leash Out for a Spin]]> This week’s dog product is a leather dog leash that caught my eye because of its high ratings on Amazon –- four to five stars with more than 80 reviews! Since most dog owners are picky about the kinds of products they will shower with praise, these high ratings made me curious to try a sample of one of Lavien’s dog leashes. Lavien sells their products exclusively through Amazon. Lavien’s line includes leather leashes, traffic leashes, and collars.

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The Lavien leash comes packaged in a mesh pouch.

Ace and I tried the Lavien Canine Dog Leather Leash ($68 list price, currently $35.23) in black. The leash is six feet long and 3/4 inches wide. It arrived in a mesh storage pouch. Upon opening the pouch, I noticed the leash smelled strongly of leather, which I enjoy.

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The leather on the Lavien leash feels strong and thick. It is almost entirely dyed black, except for the inside of the handle. At first, I thought the colorless leather inside the handle was an odd cosmetic detail, but after using the leash I believe this leather is intended to be softer and more comfortable in the hand than the leather used for the rest of the leash. The leather inside the handle is supple, and its edges are rounded. I noticed some of the black dye from the outside of the handle has bled into the neutral colored leather, and I imagine that would continue the longer I handle the leash.

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The Lavien leash’s stitching, particularly at the juncture of the handle to the leash and the leash to the clip, appears sturdy. In contrast, I have some concerns about the durability of the clip. While the brass coloring is unique and pleasing aesthetically, it is lightweight. It feels as if the clip could be opened with little force applied. Owners of rambunctious medium and large dogs might consider a different leash to restrain their dogs more reliably.

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Small dogs like Ace, particularly those living in urban areas and walking on crowded or narrow sidewalks, would probably benefit from a different leash due to the size of the Lavien leash’s clip and the length of the leash (six feet). I think the structure and quality of this leash would be fantastic if it were adjusted in proportion for small dogs, perhaps making the leash four feet long and choosing smaller hardware.

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Dogster Scorecard for the Lavien Canine Dog Leather Leash

  • Quality: While the leather appears to be of good quality, the hardware on the Lavien leash seems flimsy in comparison.
  • Style: The Lavien leash has a classic, sophisticated look.
  • Function: For calm medium and large dogs, the Lavien leash would provide comfort and style to both dog and human, though the hardware might not hold up to strong pullers.
  • Creativity: The Lavien leash is utilitarian and can be purchased easily on Amazon.
  • Value: The Lavien leash is priced comparably to other leather leashes.

Bottom line

The Lavien leash is a beautiful, affordable leather leash that would be ideal for calm medium and large dogs.

Dogster readers, tell us about the leash brands you trust in the comments below!

And read more reviews from Ace's Mama here!

Read more about rescue on Dogster:

About the Author: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its microclimates, farmers' markets, and secret stairway walks. When she's not walking with, talking about, or kissing the face of her Boston Terrier, Ace, she blogs about Ace's adventures. Product reviews writer and guinea pig at Dogster.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 08:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/dog-leash-lavien-leather-amazon-review
<![CDATA[Win the Alex Bag from Doggie Diva Boutique]]> Doggie Diva Boutique outfits pups of all sizes in the latest styles. It offers an extra-special prize for smaller dogs, though, as this week's Friday Freebie: the Alex Bag by Kwigy-Bo.

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This fashionable black carrier features quilting on the outside and inside, with the interior cushion removable for cleaning. Roomy outer and inner pockets hold toys and treats. An interior safety strap provides security when the top is open, and adjustable side flaps allow a pup to see what's up when closed or to take a nap in privacy.

The Alex Bag suits dogs up to 12 pounds who can stand up and turn around within the inside measurements of 15 1/2 inches long by 6 3/4 inches wide by 10 inches high, minus the 3/4-inch cushion height. Outside measurements are 17 inches long by 8 inches wide by 11 inches high, meeting most airline requirements for under-the-seat dog carriers. It retails for $170, but you can enter to win one for free!

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us about your pup and why he or she needs such a stylish carrier. Bonus points for photos and following directions! Our favorite comment wins. You must be a U.S. resident to score this prize.
  3. Check your email for a "You've Won!" message from us after noon PST on Thursday, Aug. 21. We'll give the winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck! 

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/win-alex-bag-doggie-diva-boutique-dog-carrier-freebies-giveaway
<![CDATA[Dogster Reviews: Ace Gets Dapper in the Dog Bow-Tie Collar By Max-Bone]]> This week, Ace and I had the opportunity to sample some products from Max-Bone, a line of fashionable dog clothing, bedding, and toys. Modern textiles and a muted color palette characterize Max-Bone’s unique style. Many Max-Bone dog products are made in the USA. In addition to individual items, Max-Bone also offers two monthly subscription boxes: The Bone-Box Mini, which includes toys, and the Bone-Box Jumbo, which includes toys and other items as well as a new bed every six months.

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The Stella Bow Tie.

Ace and I tried two products from the Max-Bone collection: the Stella Bow Tie ($45) and Ted Teddybear dog toy ($25). Handmade from a light gray linen material, the Stella Bow Tie comes in three sizes and is machine washable. I love the material and design of this fancy collar, especially for summer. The hardware includes a metal D-ring and a sturdy black plastic buckle.

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Although the Stella Bow Tie’s materials and design suggest an elegant piece of dog apparel, the stitching on the collar disappointed me. Stitches near the buckle and on the back of the bow tie used navy blue thread, which stands out against the beautiful light gray fabric. I think the stitching detracts from the polished look of the Stella Bow Tie.

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The navy blue stitching is near the D-ring.

Like the Stella Bow Tie, the Ted Teddybear’s best features are its fabric and design. It is made from a soft, chocolate brown, low-pile fabric. Its iconic teddy bear shape is simple, accented only by the Max-Bone label on its tummy. Ted Teddybear measures six inches by nine inches and includes a squeaker. It is machine washable.

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Ted Teddybear.

Ace truly enjoyed romping with Ted Teddybear. This toy is unusually lightweight, which made it fun to toss. Ace also got good traction biting into the textured fabric. It should be durable enough for small dogs who are not too rough with their toys.

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Fast friends.

I would like to see more of Max-Bone’s stylish dog products. I’m particularly curious about their dog beds and blankets, and this adorable wool buffalo toy

Dogster Scorecard for Max-Bone dog products

  • Quality: The Stella Bow Tie includes sturdy hardware.
  • Style: Despite fashionable fabrics and sleek design, contrasting stitching on the collar takes away from its polished look.
  • Function: Ted Teddybear is small and lightweight, and durable enough for small dogs who are not too rough with their toys.
  • Creativity: The look of Max-Bone is modern and fashionable.
  • Value: Max-bone products are made in the USA and are priced proportionately.

Bottom line

Ace and I enjoyed Max-Bone’s modern lines, fabrics, and colors, but the contrast stitching on the bow tie just wasn’t our style.

Dogster readers, tell us about your go-to brands for doggie formal wear in the comments below. 

And read more reviews from Ace's Mama here!

Read more about rescue on Dogster:

About the Author: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its microclimates, farmers' markets, and secret stairway walks. When she's not walking with, talking about, or kissing the face of her Boston Terrier, Ace, she blogs about Ace's adventures. Product reviews writer and guinea pig at Dogster.

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/dog-clothing-beds-toys-collars-max-bone-bow-tie-ted-teddybear-review
<![CDATA[Editor's Picks: Sunny Spots, Underwater Dog Treadmills, and Your New Computer Wallpaper]]> I have a lot of new favorite dog products right now, having just gotten back from the SuperZoo conference and being exposed to the latest from hundreds of pet retailers. But those will have to trickle into later editions of the Editor's Picks column. Most of the items in this week's roundup were waiting for me in my inbox (gleaned from newsletters and Facebook wall messages) when I arrived home -- some things the Internet gives you are too good not to share.

1. Pretty Fluffy's August Wallpaper

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Every month, our friends at Australian dog and design blog Pretty Fluffy come up with an elegant and fairly minimalist computer wallpaper that can be downloaded for free. Their aesthetic caters to the typography-obsessed dog mom, and because I identify with that camp (geez, what a hipster!), I eagerly await the beginning of each month so I can slap their latest backdrop on my screen. You can get August's dogs vs. diamonds wallpaper yonder, and browse the Pretty Fluffy archive for alternatives here.

2. The Greyhound Collar By MADZAG

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My friend, Dog Milk Managing Editor Capree Kimball, shared this collar with me recently, knowing I am a huge sighthound nerd. It's part of the Bauhaus Collection of Melinda Molnar, a Budapest-based designer with an affinity for dogs. Prices aren't listed on Molnar's site (usually an indicator that everything is out of our league, $$$-wise), but we can still drool from a distance. Damn, that's pretty.

3. A Well Adjusted Pet at the Rex Center in Pacifica, California

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Dr. Ilana makes sure Ramona stays on track on the underwater treadmill. Photo courtesy Julie Stiefel of A Well Adjusted Pet.

This new favorite is not brought to you by the Internet -- it's brought to you by my emergency vet. For those of you who don't know, my Italian Greyhound, Mr. Moxie, has been recovering from a freak accident that happened in May, and has been a regular at the AIMSS emergency clinic once a week since then. But about a week ago, his broken leg was pronounced stable, and it was recommended that we take him to Dr. Ilana Strubel at the Rex Center for rehab. "Egads!" I thought (because, in my head I sound like Mr. Lodge), lamenting the fact that I still face enormous vet bills.

But Moxie is doing so well in rehab, and Illana is a complete doll. We've decided he's too much of a scaredy cat for the underwater treadmill on the premises (pictured above with a braver dog), but a combination of stretches and daily exercises at home, and weekly laser appointments have made a world of difference. I was recently able to post a video on Moxie's Facebook page showing him using both front paws on his first walk outside in months. We have a few more weeks of treatment to go, but I am so grateful the AIMSS vets sent us to the Rex Center. If you live in Northern California, I definitely recommend checking it out.  

4. Pack's #SUNNYSPOT Photo Roundup

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Our friends at Pack, an instagram-centric social network for dogs, are always doing something cool. Their latest contest encouraged members of the site's community to share their best #sunnyspot photos, and the resulting roundup will give you that taste of summer you've been missing. Check out all the beautiful photos over here.

5. The Walk In Sync Harness

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Can I confess something? I've never been a harness aficionado. In fact, I sometimes give dogs in harnesses the side eye, because they always appear to be poorly trained and yanking away from the other end of the lead. But I might have to start eating my words. As part of Moxie's treatment, Illana has me using the Walk in Sync harness designed by dog trainer Alecia Evans, which is structured so that the leash attaches at the front instead of the rear. It's been encouraging Mox to put weight on the leg we're retraining him to use, and it has made him such a delight to walk with. It might become a regular part of our lives post-treatment.

Do any of you prefer harnesses over the collar and leash combo in general? What brands do you recommend?

Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to send me any and all dog product recs: I'm at janine (at) dogster (dot) com.

See More of Janine's Favorite Things:

About the Author: Janine is your typical annoying Aries overachiever with nine human siblings and a soft spot for sighthounds. She is a tattoo collector, tea drinker, and unabashedly into marshmallows and cheesy musicals. Janine believes responsible breeders exist -- her dog is from one. She runs the show as editor-in-chief of Dogster and Catster.

Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:45:00 -0700 /doggie-style/editors-picks-pack-pretty-fluffy-madzag-rex-center-dog-collars-pictures-photos-harness
<![CDATA[Dogster Reviews Stylish Summer Dog Shirts by Penn + Pooch]]> When I came across the penn + pooch website, which showcases its line of fine dog apparel made in Los Angeles, my first thought was whether they made clothes for humans, too (selfish, I know). The colorful T-shirts, hoodies, and polos modeled by adorable small dogs drew me in with their bold, modern prints. I thought these shirts would appeal to Ace’s impeccable sense of style, so I reached out to penn + pooch for some samples.

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Ace rocks the Babe in Native Aztec Print.

We tested the Babe ($26.50), a fitted T-shirt, in two head-turning patterns: Tangerine + Stripe and Native Aztec Print. Ace also tried the Stevie ($39.50), a hooded sweatshirt, in Native Aztec Print.

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Here, Ace models the Babe in Tangerine + Stripe. So. Cool.

Both bright patterns look as cool in person as they do on the penn + pooch website. I think the fabrics penn + pooch use set the company apart from other brands. I’ve never seen an article of dog clothing sport such fashionable hues as mustard, turquoise, and burnt sienna!

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The Stevie hoodie is 100% cotton and incredibly soft.

All three penn + pooch garments we tried were incredibly soft. They appear well-made, with clean, sturdy stitching. The penn + pooch logo is small, unobtrusive, and tastefully placed on each shirt. They are machine wash and tumble dry, so your pup can get her paws dirty in style. The Babe is 95-percent cotton and 5-percent Spandex, while the Stevie is 100-percent cotton.

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The harness flap, as seen on the Babe t-shirt.

One handy feature on both the Babe and the Stevie is a flap that allows you to clip a leash to your dog’s harness underneath. The flap was virtually invisible when Ace was wearing the shirts, and provided good access to her harness’s clip.

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Here is the harness flap on the Stevie hooded sweatshirt.

Penn + pooch’s shirts come in sizes extra-small through large. Ace’s measurements suggested she would wear size medium, but the shirts fit a bit snugly across her broad Bulldog chest. If your dog falls between sizes or has a broad chest, I suggest you size up.

I’m curious to try the Peyton ($34), a polo shirt that comes in lavender, mustard, and tangerine. This dapper little shirt includes a harness flap and a preppy collar.

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Dogster Scorecard for dog shirts by penn + pooch

  • Quality: Penn + pooch shirts appear well-made of soft, colorful, machine-washable fabric.
  • Style: Your dog will probably look more fashionable than you do if you buy her a penn + pooch shirt.
  • Function: Each penn + pooch shirt has a convenient flap that allows you to clip your leash to your dog’s harness.
  • Creativity: All the little details come together to make penn + pooch shirts unique.
  • Value: These stylish shirts are made in California, which is reflected in their cost. Shipping is free across the continental U.S.A.

Bottom line

Penn + pooch offers a stylish selection of shirts for small dogs. I am delighted to have found American-made dog clothing that looks this good!

Hey Dogster readers, share your favorite clothing brands for dogs large and small in the comments below.

And read more reviews from Ace's Mama here!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

 About the Author: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its microclimates, farmers' markets, and secret stairway walks. When she's not walking with, talking about, or kissing the face of her Boston Terrier, Ace, she blogs about Ace's adventures. Product reviews writer and guinea pig at Dogster.

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/dog-apparel-t-shirts-penn-pooch-review