Toys | Toys http://www.dogster.com/dog-toys Toys en-us Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:00:00 -0800 Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:00:00 -0800 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Orion <![CDATA[Holiday Gifts That Work Well Into the New Year]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/holiday-gifts-christmas-hanukkah-dog-toys-beds-sweaters 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:

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Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/holiday-gifts-christmas-hanukkah-dog-toys-beds-sweaters
<![CDATA[Is It Just Us, or Do Dog Toys Sometimes Look a Little X-Rated?]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/dog-sex-toys-x-rated-humor-pictures-photos Where exactly does one draw the line between dog toys and sex toys? Well, to be honest, because I'm writing this in the Bay Area, I know more than a few people who would tell you that there is no line. The leash and collar section is especially popular for some people, and I know of at least one café in San Francisco where, if one is so inclined, the staff will serve your espresso in a metal dog bowl. Ultimately, the words "sex" and "toy" are both extremely subjective, and their definition depends on how active your imagination is and how many people are coming over.

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Boisterous Boxer by Shutterstock.

This works the other way, too. It takes only a very low level of Google-fu to find scores of videos on YouTube of people whose dogs found their vibrator or other toy and decided that it would make the perfect chew toy. Once again, it's all a matter of perspective.

Mike Wehner on The Daily Dot explored the topic in a little more detail by combing the pet supply section on Amazon and seeing just how blurry the line can get. The answer? Pretty blurry, even without stretching your imagination too much. For instance, there's this thing:

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The Nylabone Odd Bone

If I saw that lying around someone's house without any context, I'm pretty sure that I'd assume that it was not for the dog. I know some very specific non-dog toys that look exactly like that. The name "Odd Stick" is rather suggestive in itself.

And then there's the Crinkits, which is meant to give your dog something to chew on instead of your water bottles. However, Wehner notes that it's "way cheaper than a Fleshlight." Frankly, it looks less comfortable, too, but everyone has their preference.

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Crinkits Dog Toy

The funny thing is, that as Michael Leaverton noted late last year when he covered a blog feature called "Sex Toy or Dog Toy Saturday," there has been a trend toward making actual sex toys cuter. A lot of them look like they could be dog toys. For instance, take the adorable and infamous "I Rub My Duckie." On first glance, would you take this into the bedroom, or toss it to the dog?

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I Rub My Duckie

Unless, of course, you had the bondage model, which looks a little bit less innocent. Any dog that grabs either of them is going to get a very surprising shot of vibration in the teeth.

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The lesson? Stay organized. Keep all your toys in their appropriate, appointed places. And, of course, make sure that your dogs understand which toys are theirs, and which are not.

Via The Daily Dot

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/dog-sex-toys-x-rated-humor-pictures-photos
<![CDATA[Win a Remote-Control Dog Chase Toy From Go-Go Dog Pals]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/win-a-remote-control-toy-from-go-go-dog-pals We've given away some pretty amazing products as Friday Freebies. This week's prize may just be the coolest.

Bandit the Raccoon from Go-Go Dog Pals operates by remote control, allowing you to send your pup racing around the yard or park or even an empty parking lot with just the push of a button and the steer of a little wheel. It features a hard outer shell designed to repel the grip of paws and teeth. The chassis doesn't easily flip, and if it does the design causes the toy to land upright so it can quickly restart the game of chase. Dogs who play with Bandit stop and start, accelerate and decelerate, and get the exercise they need to get to stay in shape.

Check out a Go-Go Dog Pal in action:

It reaches speeds of up to 25 mph, works up to 350 feet, and has a rechargeable battery.

Bandit (the company also offers Woody the Woodchuck and Sweetie the Skunk) costs $229.99, but Go-Go Dogs will give one Dogster reader a toy of his or her own! Follow the directions 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 how your dog would benefit from playing with Bandit the Raccoon. Is she a high-energy breed you can't keep up with? Do you have physical limitations that make exercising him difficult? Are you training a sighthound or hunting dog? Bonus points for photos! Our favorite photo/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, June 26. We'll give the winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

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Fri, 20 Jun 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/win-a-remote-control-toy-from-go-go-dog-pals
<![CDATA[Dogster Reviews: We Check out the Marathon Food Puzzle Toy by KONG]]> http://www.dogster.com/doggie-style/dog-chew-food-puzzle-toys-marathon-bone-kong-review Food puzzle toys are a great hands-free way to keep a dog entertained for a few minutes. Kibble-dispensing toys were a big part of Ace’s routine when she was an energetic puppy and I was trying to steal a few minutes to myself. These days, Ace enjoys a KONG Classic with a smudge of peanut butter every day when her dog walker brings her back home.

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Ace and her KONG Marathon ball, pink, in size small

KONG recently released a new edition to its line of interactive toys for dogs, which include several types of treat-dispensing toys. The KONG Marathon is unique amongst food-puzzle toys because it is designed to hold a special hard treat that locks firmly into the toy.

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The Marathon Bone

The Marathon (about $13 to $18) comes in two shapes (ball and bone), two sizes (small for dogs up to 35 pounds, and large for dogs 30 to 65 pounds), and three colors (blue, green, and pink). You can purchase treat refills for the Marathon, which come in packs of two treats (about $5).

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A detail from the KONG Marathon packaging

Ace and I sampled the small pink-ball Marathon. Before I even opened the package, I flipped it over to examine the contents of the treat. Like many Dogster readers, I’m concerned about what goes into my dog, including treats. While the Marathon treats are certainly not the most nutritious food product I’ve ever fed Ace, I was pretty surprised by how not terrible the treats seem to be. Gluten, wheat, and corn free, and the treats are made in the USA. Based upon my own personal standards, I would consider feeding Ace these treats on an occasional basis.

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Ace, who leads our Dogster Reviews, works on a chew toy.

The small KONG Marathon measures three inches in diameter (the large is four inches in diameter), so it is too large for Ace, a 15-pound Boston Terrier, to fit into her mouth. This means Ace can’t really chew on the Marathon like she does with many of her other toys. I’d like to try the bone-shaped Marathon to see if that toy is easier for her to chew. Ace never was able to pop the treat out of the Marathon, though I wonder whether it would have come out if she had been able to get more of the ball in her mouth.

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Mmm...

In researching the Marathon online, I came across a few product reviews in which the dog owners wrote that their large dogs destroyed the Marathon within minutes. The Marathon is made from a rubbery material, but it is not the same heavy-duty rubber as the KONG Classic. I would caution dog owners to use common sense when considering the Marathon. If your dog is over 65 pounds (the maximum suggested size for the large Marathon) or is a particularly prolific chewer, you might consider a different toy. For my small dog with a small mouth, I was not concerned that the Marathon would become a choking hazard. Also, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your dog while she is playing with any kind of toy, including food puzzles.

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Ace didn’t seem to notice that she couldn’t get the Marathon in her mouth –- she loved the Marathon treat. Ace gave the Marathon her full attention, licking the treat until it was flush with the surface of the ball. Since the toy is a sphere, it moved around as she licked, so she was constantly on alert, chasing the ball and trying to hold it between her paws. When I pried the Marathon away from her, Ace was panting a little with exertion.

If you decide to try out the Marathon, I recommend using it on a hard, easy-to-clean surface like a linoleum floor. This is because the wet treat gets rolled around on the ground and leaves some smelly residue (don’t worry, it’s not at as gross as a bully stick).

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YUM!

Compared to other food puzzle toys, the Marathon has one obvious drawback –- you have to keep purchasing KONG’s Marathon treat refills to use with the toy. You can’t just stick some kibble or a bit of peanut butter in there. For me, this is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it means I wouldn’t be using the Marathon as frequently as I use our do-it-yourself frozen peanut butter KONG Classic. Ace would probably appreciate the variety anyway.

Dogster Scorecard for the Marathon food puzzle toy by KONG

  • Quality: The Marathon does not appear to be as durable as other rubber KONG products, and may be more appropriate for gentle chewers.
  • Style: The Marathon comes in multiple size, shape, and color options.
  • Function: The Marathon’s treat stayed locked into place as Ace licked, wrestled, and chased the ball.
  • Creativity: The lock-in treat is a creative reimagining on the food puzzle toy.
  • Value: Unfortunately, KONG Marathon requires continued purchase of special treats, which might be a worthwhile expense if your dog really enjoys her Marathon.

Bottom line

The KONG Marathon is a unique food puzzle toy for gentle chewers, and will keep a small- or medium-sized dog busy with a delicious snap-in treat.

Dogster readers, have you tried the KONG Marathon yet? Which food puzzle toys keep your dogs busy and engaged? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Read more reviews from Ace's Mama here!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

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.

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Thu, 22 May 2014 04:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/dog-chew-food-puzzle-toys-marathon-bone-kong-review
<![CDATA[Are Planet Dog's Newest Orbee-Tuff Toys Truly Indestructible?]]> http://www.dogster.com/doggie-style/planet-indestructible-dog-toys-orbee-tuff-review If your dog was being honest -- and really, isn’t their immutable honesty one of the best things about dogs? -- what would she choose as her favorite activity? While I like to think that Ace loves nothing more than cuddling with me, she would probably vote for chewing, eating, or playing fetch. Luckily for me, this week’s product review catered to Ace’s preferences. Like Christmas in May, Planet Dog sent us samples of two new premium dog toys.

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Not familiar with Planet Dog? This company produces drool-worthy dog toys that are durable, interesting, and unique. Some of their toys are made in the U.S.A., and they have special lines of eco-friendly toys and toys especially for puppies or older dogs. Their Orbee-Tuff material has a minty-fresh scent and comes in three levels of durability to accommodate a range of chewing styles. To top it all off, Planet Dog donates two percent of every purchase to the Planet Dog Foundation, which funds programs that promote service dogs in the United States.

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New for spring, Planet Dog has expanded their Orbee-Tuff line with the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff with Treat Spot. This bouncy, durable toy is great for fetch, and its buoyancy makes it fun in water, too. It is rated “5 out of 5 chompers,” so it’s the most durable of Planet Dog’s toys. It is hollow, so treats can be inserted into the bottom for an extra reward.

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Ace modes sizes small, medium, and large.

The Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff comes in three sizes: small ($8.95, 2.9-inches tall), medium ($13.95, 3.9-inches tall) and large ($15.95, 4.9-inches tall). You can choose from green, purple, or silver.

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Ace is 15 pounds, so the size small was perfect for her. She enjoyed a rather crazy game of indoor fetch, as the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff’s asymmetrical design means it bounces unpredictably. I can already tell that this toy will become a primary player in our rotation of toys for indoor fetch.

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The Kong Classic, size medium (center) falls between the sizes of the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff toys in small (left) and medium (right).

Ace and I own a few Classic Kong toys in size medium (about $12.99), and since this fairly ubiquitous toy is similar to Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff, I decided to compare them. I like the material of the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff better than that of the Classic Kong. It seems more durable while being more flexible, and I like that it comes in several color choices. It also smells minty!

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The treat opening on the Kong Classic (center) is bigger, which Ace prefers.

However, the Classic Kong has a much bigger opening for treats, and this is an important advantage. After a long day of playing and sleeping, Ace likes to lick peanut butter out of a frozen Kong. Unfortunately, the opening in the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff toy is too small for her tongue. Instead, I inserted a piece of a treat into the hole, and while Ace enjoyed that just fine, it did not keep her occupied as long as a peanut butter-filled Kong.

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Yummy!

In addition to the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff toys, Planet Dog added a new member to its Orbee-Tuff Produce line of toys. Joining the Raspberry, Strawberry, Artichoke, and Eggplant is the Carrot ($14.95). Each toy in the Produce line is a different size, and the Carrot is one of the larger toys at 7.25-inches long and 3.25-inches in diameter. These toys are rated “4 out of 5 chompers” to accommodate “fairly aggressive chewers.”

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Ace does some doggie yoga while enjoying her Carrot.

While petite Ace could have snacked on one of the smaller Produce toys, she seemed to enjoy the Carrot just fine. The Treat Spot in this toy is huge; nearly the entire bottom of the toy is open, and the whole toy is hollow. You could fit half a jar of peanut butter in there!

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Ace easily chews the rim of the large Treat Spot on the Carrot.

To maintain Ace’s trim figure, I put a more reasonable spoonful of peanut butter in the Carrot, and Ace was in heaven. The size of the opening meant that she could really chew the toy while eating her delicious treat. As a bonus, the shape of the Carrot meant that it rolled around on the floor while she was eating, adding a little bit of a challenge to obtaining her snack. 

I love the concept of this particular line of toys. Compared to the other toys in the Produce line, the Carrot is more functional than cute. (Personally, I’ve got my eye on the Artichoke.) I think it would be a great size and shape for a medium-sized dog who isn’t too terribly rough on her toys.  

Dogster Scorecard for the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff and Orbee-Tuff Carrot toys by Planet Dog:

  • Quality: Orbee-Tuff toys are made from durable, non-toxic, recyclable materials. The Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff toys are made to survive aggressive chewers.
  • Style: Great colors and unique shapes are trademarks of Planet Dog’s toys.
  • Function: While the Diamond-Plate Double-Tuff toy was bouncy, its Treat Spot was smaller than Ace would like. We found the Carrot’s wide Treat Spot to be better suited for snacking.
  • Creativity: I love the concept of the Produce toys!
  • Value: All Orbee-Tuff toys are made in the USA and designed for longevity, so their pricing seems fair.

Bottom line

If your dog is a chewer, a fetcher, or a treat lover, she will enjoy Planet Dog’s newest Orbee-Tuff toys. 

Dogster readers, share your experiences with Planet Dog’s products in the comments section.

Read more reviews from Ace's Mama here!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

 About Ace's Mama: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its micro-climates, 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.

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Tue, 06 May 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/planet-indestructible-dog-toys-orbee-tuff-review
<![CDATA[Dogster Reviews: We Test an Assortment of Products By Oré Pet]]> http://www.dogster.com/doggie-style/ore-pet-dogster-review Ace and I are on an ongoing quest to dig up dog products that are as fashionable as they are useful. (Okay, so maybe the “fashionable” part is a little less important to Ace than it is to me.) This is no easy task. But the way I see it, if I have to buy Ace another brush, or jacket, or toy, shouldn’t it be as pretty as possible? Unfortunately, Ace does not earn enough money from her modeling gig to fund the purchase of more extravagant goods, so when I find a brand that is modern and unique but not wallet-emptying expensive, we pounce on it.

Recently, Ace and I were window shopping at a local boutique pet store (I was taking careful notes on interesting products, while Ace was dancing frantically in front of a delighted, treat-dispensing cashier). A bright display of placemats in an array of trendy colors captured my attention, and that’s how I was introduced to Oré Pet. Like their people products, Oré’s cat and dog products are cheerfully vintage-inspired, with fun prints and an expansive color palette. They are also not freakishly expensive.

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It was difficult to choose a placemat to review, but after much debate we settled on the Shadow Dog Retro Aqua Placemat ($5). I just fell in love with the color, and the print makes me smile. The placemat is a fairly standard size (18 inches wide by 12 inches high) and fit Ace’s two large bowls snugly.

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The placemat is polypropylene and therefore easy to wipe down. This is important to me because about half of Ace’s food ends up on the placemat anyway, and I want to keep it as clean as I keep her stainless steel bowls. One drawback to this simple style of placemat is that it can slide around if you have tile floors and an aggressive eater.

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After a good meal, Ace likes to take a nap, so I saw an opportunity to try the Pet Brush Wood Bone Boar Bristles ($12). Made of solid maple wood and boar bristles, this brush is a good size and shape for medium to large dogs; it was a bit large for 15-pound Ace’s petite frame. This brush is nicely made, and I like the simple style of the natural wood.

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Ace usually enjoys the ZoomGroom by Kong, which is quite a different kind of brush as it is made from a rubbery material. I think Ace prefers the feel of the ZoomGroom to the sensation of the boar bristles, but if your dog likes this style of brush, I found Oré’s boar bristle brush to be of good quality. Oré also offers a similarly shaped brush with stainless steel bristles.

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Finally, after great patience, Ace and I tried out one of Oré’s dog toys. Like other toys in this line, the Fetch Dog Toy Old Shoe ($8) is made from 100-percent recycled cotton and is decorated with a cool screen-print using lead-free ink. These toys are machine washable and include a squeaker.

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Ace was very enthusiastic about this toy. I think it was a combination of the toy’s smaller size and soft yet sturdy material. She had a great deal of fun fetching it, shaking it, and tugging it. I think we’ll get some mileage out of it, but larger dogs would probably kill this toy fairly quickly. I thought the array of toys in this line were pretty cool and unique, particularly because the designs are screen-printed photos.

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Ace is NOT IMPRESSED by my style, but she does like this toy.

Dogster Scorecard for Oré Pet:

  • Quality: Oré products are of good quality given they are pretty and inexpensive.
  • Style: I love the style of this product line: colorful, whimsical, vintage, fun.
  • Function: I was impressed by the quality of the boar bristle brush, while the placemat and dog toy would benefit from more gentle treatment.
  • Creativity: Oré Pet’s products have a vintage feel that is unique.
  • Value: Oré Pet’s prices are affordable compared to brands offering similarly styled products.

Bottom line

Even if your dog couldn’t care less about style, do your fashionable, thrifty self a favor and check out products by Oré Pet.

What do you think about Oré Pet products, Dogster readers? What are your go-to brands to keep your dog cute without breaking the bank?

Read more reviews from Ace's Mama here!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About Ace's Mama: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its micro-climates, 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.

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Tue, 29 Apr 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/ore-pet-dogster-review
<![CDATA[We Review PetSmart's Luv-A-Pet Plush Toys]]> http://www.dogster.com/doggie-style/petsmart-luv-a-pet-care-bears-dog-plush-toys-review Which holidays do you celebrate with your dog? I think the answer to this question depends upon which holidays are important to you and your family. I love celebrating birthdays, so when Ace’s rolls around each July we break out the party hats and eat a special treat. Christmas is important to my family, so come December you can find Ace tearing open wrapped gifts and snaking underfoot during big family dinners. However, even though I enjoy Halloween, Ace has thus far been less than receptive to donning an intricate costume and running around town.

If you love Valentine’s Day like I love Halloween, you’re probably on the prowl for the sweetest, non-chocolate gift for your canine Valentine. PetSmart thought that Valentine’s Day would be a great time to introduce a new line of stuffed toys featuring an '80s icon: Care Bears.

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Ace wrestles Bedtime Bear.

The Care Bears plush toys are part of PetSmart’s Luv-A-Pet line of products, which means that 10 percent of the purchase price is donated to PetSmart Charities. Check out the PetSmart Charities website –- it looks like they do a lot of good work by providing funding to animal welfare organizations for pet adoptions, spay/neuter, and emergency services.

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Mmm, Bedtime Bear.

Ace and I sampled two Care Bears toys: the Luv-A-Pet Care Bears Dog Toy in Bedtime Bear ($9.99, on sale for $7.99) and the Luv-A-Pet Care Bears Ball Body Dog Toy in Good Luck Bear ($5.99, on sale for $5.39). I was a child in the 1980s, and seeing these toys brought back a rush of fond memories. I recall being drawn to the Care Bears movies and toys because they were colorful and cheerful, making them ideal for dog toys as well.

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Ace is lucky to play with Good Luck Bear.

The Care Bears toys have the details of the original children’s toys, including the symbols on their bellies and the little Care Bears heart insignia on their bottoms. I appreciated these toys’ colorful retro styling. Ace was a big fan of both of these squeaky plush toys too, especially because they each have stubbly little tails that she can chew.

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In the spirit of the holiday, Ace and I sampled some other Valentine’s-themed toys from the Luv-A-Pet line. Ace’s favorite was the Luv-A-Pet Fuzzy Love Ball in red ($3.99). In addition to its squeaker, she seemed to enjoy chewing on the embroidered face and mouthing all over its fluffy fur.

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Rawr!!

These toys are adorable, though the fur shed a bit during play. I’d like to check out the light pink one with its little purple horns –- too cute!

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Cute stuff, indeed.

We also tried the Luv-A-Pet Orange Plush Bone and the Luv-A-Pet Green Plush Bone ($2.99 each, on sale for $1.99). PetSmart’s website shows a selection of similar toys, designed in the spirit of those ubiquitous Valentine’s Day heart candies.

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Ace seemed to enjoy theses bones, and they were a good length to play tug with a small dog. I didn’t find them to be as cute as the other toys we sampled.

None of the toys we sampled were designed to last very long, but I think adorable, inexpensive novelty plush toys have their own value. They would make fantastic gifts, not only because they are cute and festive, but also because, as Dogster recently reported, dogs really enjoy destroying their toys. What better way to express your love this Valentine’s Day than to give your dog the pleasure of eviscerating a Care Bear? 

Dogster Scorecard for Luv-A-Pet Plush Toys by PetSmart

  • Quality: The toys are colorful and have cute detailing, but don’t expect them to last very long with big chewers.
  • Style: Some toys from this selection were irresistibly adorable, particularly the new Care Bears toys.
  • Function: Many of the Luv-A-Pet toys would be appropriate little gifts for Valentine’s Day.
  • Creativity: Children of the ‘80s will appreciate the Care Bears revival.
  • Value: Luv-A-Pet toys are inexpensive, and your purchase helps support animal welfare organizations through PetSmart Charities.

Bottom line

The Luv-A-Pet plush toys at PetSmart would make adorable gifts for your canine Valentine, and your purchase will help spread a little extra love by supporting PetSmart Charities. 

Dogster readers, do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your dog? In lieu of chocolates and flowers, how do you show your love? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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. 

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Tue, 04 Feb 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /doggie-style/petsmart-luv-a-pet-care-bears-dog-plush-toys-review
<![CDATA[Enter to Win the Flirt Pole V2 by Squishy Face Studio]]> http://www.dogster.com/doggie-style/win-flirt-pole-v2-squishy-face-studio-dog-toys-review-contest I’ve written before about Ace’s love of playing fetch. On rainy days or after dark, she enjoys interactive games of tug, wrestling with me for one of her sturdy stuffies. But Ace’s most favorite game of all time is chasing a laser pointer. I save the laser for after her weekly bath, which is her least favorite activity. I reward her for putting up with my strange ideas about cleanliness by air drying her with some high-intensity laser chasing. It must be her terrier instincts that, like a cat, compel her to hunt that laser in all corners of our apartment.

I had never tried using a flirt pole with Ace before, though I had read about them on Dogster and other sites as a great toy for exercising dogs and a useful tool for practicing commands like “stay” and “drop it.” A flirt pole is a pole to which a long string is attached, with a lure (some kind of enticing toy) at the end of the string. The human drags the lure around using the pole, and the dog chases the lure.

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The Flirt Pole V2.

Our friends at Squishy Face Studio have impressed us before with the quality of their Bow-Wow Super Tug Toy and Hands Free Dog Leash Belt, so when a sample of their Flirt Pole V2 ($28.99) arrived on my doorstep, I knew I was about to test the ultimate flirt pole. The “V2” indicates this is Squishy Face Studio’s newest version of the Flirt Pole, which they improved using customer feedback about improving the attachment of the lure to the bungee cord and the ease of changing lures ($7.99 per replacement lure).

My first impression of the Flirt Pole V2 was that it is well made. The pole is three feet long but very lightweight plastic (less than one pound, per the website). The handle has a soft grip and a wrist strap, so it is easy to hold on even when swinging it around. The bungee cord is a little over four-feet long and quite sturdy.

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I found the Flirt Pole V2 to be lightweight and easy to grip.

The lure is made of fleece strips that are woven together in a thick braid. It is machine washable. One of the tails of our lure included a squeaker –- enticing! As the website cautions, the lure is not tough enough to be used as a chew toy. They suggest limiting how long your dog chews on the lure after catching it, and keeping it away from your dog when you are not actively playing with the Flirt Pole V2. You have the option to purchase a lure without a squeaker, which might be a good idea if your dog would be unable to stop herself from destroying a squeaking toy.

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Ace was adept at catching the squeaky fleece lure.

I examined the lure and how it attaches to the Flirt Pole V2, since this is the aspect of the toy that was improved with customer input. I don’t have any experience with the previous version of the Flirt Pole, but the V2’s lure attachment seems both simple and secure. This video demonstrates how easy it is to change out the lure, and how, once it is attached, your dog can pull away at the lure and it will stay put.

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The Flirt Pole V2 Jr. is a foot shorter than the standard version but just as fun.

Ace and I hopped on public transit with our Flirt Pole V2 so we could play at her favorite park. This toy would also be appropriate for folks with a small backyard, since unlike a game of fetch, playing with a flirt pole requires less space. However, those carrying it on foot or bus might consider the Flirt Pole V2 Jr. ($27.99), which is two feet long instead of three feet. It would be fantastic if the Flirt Pole were somehow telescopic, folding into itself so that the pole became smaller for transport or storage.

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As you can tell by my smile, I had a fun time playing with Ace using the Flirt Pole V2.

Ace and I had an incredibly fun time playing with our Flirt Pole V2. Sure, I expected her to enjoy it, but I was truly blown away by her excitement. While the website suggests allowing your dog to capture the lure from time to time, that was NOT an issue for Ace -- I had a hard time keeping up with her! We both enjoyed having a novel kind of toy that we could play with outdoors with the same intensity and focus as fetch or Frisbee.

Our first session with the Flirt Pole V2 ended with Ace lying down in the grass and rolling over on her back. Coming from such an athletic dog, this is a high compliment.

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Can you tell Ace enjoyed her Flirt Pole V2?

Dogster Scorecard for the Flirt Pole V2 by Squishy Face Studio

  • Quality: Like other Squishy Face Studio products, the Flirt Pole V2 was made in the U.S.A. and built to last.
  • Style: The Flirt Pole V2 has a simple, clean look, and you can choose from two lure colors.
  • Function: The Flirt Pole V2 is sturdy and lightweight enough for me to play with Ace easily. I found the lure easy to change.
  • Creativity: I appreciate that Squishy Face Studio used customer feedback to create a better toy.
  • Value: Sure, you could build your own flirt pole using some junk from your garage, but for a little cash you can have a lightweight, sturdy Flirt Pole V2.

Bottom line

The Flirt Pole V2 is a high-quality version of a classic toy. Simple and lightweight, it’s a fun, interactive way to exercise your dog.

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Enter to win a Flirt Pole V2 of your choice

If this article piqued your interest in the Flirt Pole V2, why don’t you enter to win one today? Squishy Face Studio has generously offered five lucky winners the Flirt Pole V2 of their choice. Winners can choose either the standard 36-inch Flirt Pole V2 or the 24-inch Flirt Pole V2 Jr., and can select from one of four lure choices.

To enter, simply leave a comment below, and Ace will choose her five favorite entries.

The contest is open to readers residing in the United States. Enter before noon PST on Friday, January 17, and make sure your Disqus account includes your preferred email address so Ace can contact you if you win!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About Ace's Mama: 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. 

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Tue, 14 Jan 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /doggie-style/win-flirt-pole-v2-squishy-face-studio-dog-toys-review-contest
<![CDATA[We Review Bret Michaels' Pets Rock Collection]]> http://www.dogster.com/doggie-style/bret-michaels-pets-rock-petsmart-dog-toys-clothing-accessories-review The iconic and sometimes horrifying fashion of the 1980s is back in style. As I travel about San Francisco, I marvel at the resurrection of florescent hues and leggings. I was a child in the 1980s, so I view '80s-inspired design with a mix of bemusement and indulgent delight.

Born in 2011, Ace never got a chance to experience the majesty of the '80s. I had the chance to introduce her by way of Petsmart's The Bret Michaels Pets Rock Collection (not to be confused with a Pet Rock -- come on, people, that was the '70s). The Poison front man and recent reality TV star is a lifelong dog lover and owner of German Shepherds. While the Pets Rock line has been rocking out since 2012, recently it expanded to include neon-themed toys and accessories.

Ace and I reviewed multiple Pets Rock items, including a host of neon-themed dog toys.

Clothing and accessories

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Have you ever seen a more adorable skull than the screen print on the Guitar Dress?

Dressing Ace is a guilty pleasure because even though she’s a small dog, she’s not really into it. Therefore, the first Pets Rock products I wanted to review were the clothing! Ace modeled the Guitars Dress ($9.47) and the Jean Vest ($5.47). She is 15 pounds but wears a size large due to her strapping bully chest –- be sure to check out the sizing chart carefully before ordering.

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Ace models the Jean Vest. Not shown: her tiny motorcycle and aviator sunglasses.

I am totally delighted by these outfits given the incredibly low prices. The fabric and detailing are good quality and completely adorable. Velcro closures at the dress’s neck and across the front of the vest made the outfits easy to put on a squirming Ace.

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Mama, why are we hanging out in the doorway? Let's show off this snazzy leash!

We also tried the Rolled Leather Lead in brown ($14.97). I was curious about the quality of the leash’s leather. It’s a bit stiff right out of the box. I like the 4-foot length, and the handle seems strong.

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I think I would have nightmares drinking out of a bowl with a skull, but Ace liked the taste of the Melamine Roses Bowl just fine.

Ace lapped up the Melamine Roses Bowl ($8.99), one in a trio of bowls. They are dishwasher safe and have a rubber nonskid bottom. Again, I thought the quality of the bowl was excellent, and it survived the dishwasher with every thorn intact. The bowl is smaller than I anticipated and would be suitable for small dogs only.

I think the most unique aspect of the Pets Rock collection is the clothing, because who doesn’t like a dog dressed in flaming skulls? The neon-inspired clothes look even cooler.

Toys

Ace was in '80s dog heaven while we were testing samples from the Pets Rock toy collection, which included squeaky stuffies and surprisingly rugged rope tugs –- especially the Neon Ball on Rope, which is a seriously durable tug for $8.99.

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Ace's favorite part of the Plush Ball with Spikes was its textured nylon spikes.

Ace’s favorite toy by far was the Plush Ball with Spikes ($4.99). The body is fuzzy but the spikes are made from nylon, so it has held up well during several games of fetch.

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This is the same expression I make when I find shoes I like.

Another favorite is the Vinyl Boot ($4.79). I like it because it’s a wee (six-inch) cowboy boot, and Ace likes it because it has the shrillest squeaker ever installed in a toy.

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The rubbery spikes on this ring made it ideal for crazy games of tug.

The Rubber Spiked Ring ($7.99) was a fun alternative to playing tug with a rope toy or fetch with a ball. I was concerned about Ace gnawing off the little spikes, so like most toys I am keeping this one out of reach unless we are playing together.

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The skulls are my favorite detail on this colorful tug toy.

The Tennis Ball with Spike Rubber Ball ($9.59) is a fun twist on the ubiquitous rope tug because it includes two balls with different textures. The tennis ball is printed with skulls, because it is SO TOUGH. This tug is somewhat less durable than the one mentioned earlier and would probably be appropriate for small to medium size dogs.

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GIVE ME THAT NEON PINK COW NOW!!

The award for cutest toy goes to the Tennis Ball Body Animal Dog Toys ($6.99), which combine a durable tennis ball with a sweet and furry stuffie. I’m not too excited about the hair, which I worry an overzealous Ace might swallow, so again I supervise her while she plays. I love the Crinkle Guitar ($4.99), but it’s teeny-weenie and more appropriate for the littlest rockers than for Ace. As with the clothing and accessories, I found the toys to be a good value for the cost, unique, and, most important, really fun for Ace.

Dogster Scorecard for the Bret Michaels Pets Rock Collection

  • Quality: For the price, I was pleasantly surprised, particularly by the awesome details in the clothing.
  • Style: Totally tubular: skulls, flames, leather, and neon have never looked better than they do on your dog.
  • Function: Clothing runs small, so take a chill pill and double-check the size chart. Some toys have the potential to shed small parts during play -– be smart and supervise your dog (no duh).
  • Creativity: Who knew that sharing the '80s with your dog could be so much fun? Like totally!
  • Value: The Pets Rock Collection is particularly rad given the affordable prices.

Bottom line

Instead of teasing out your permed, bleached hair or dusting off your parachute pants, bring a touch of '80s whimsy to your dog with toys, accessories, and clothing from the Pets Rock Collection.

Dogster readers, tell us about toys you love for their fun style or unique appeal in the comments. What else should we review in this column? Drop us a line in the comments below!

Read more reviews by Ace:

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Tue, 11 Jun 2013 10:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/bret-michaels-pets-rock-petsmart-dog-toys-clothing-accessories-review
<![CDATA[I Made a Flirt Pole for My Dog and Got Labeled a Dogfighter]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/diy-dog-toy-toys-flirt-pole-dogfighter Maybe you've checked out my author page, maybe you haven't, but as it states, I live in Georgia. But not only do I live in Georgia, I live in south Georgia -- it gets hot here in the summertime. Figuring out how to exercise your dog while staying cool can be tough. 

In my neighborhood, you have a few options when it comes to exercising your dogs. You can let them roam (no leash law here), walk them around the neighborhood (asphalt roads), or you can do exercises in your backyard. When it's only May and the temperature is in the triple digits, you can bet I'm not walking the dogs through the neighborhood. Last year, Axle scared me to death on a walk when he overheated and spent an hour laying in the shade to cool off.

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This was last year, when the temps had just hit the high 70s. Axle laid out in the grass for almost an hour. I knew I had to do something different.

I'm also definitely not letting my dogs roam, although many people in my neighborhood choose to. That leaves me with the backyard ... but what can we do? Axle doesn't fetch, Remi half-fetches, and they both need exercise that is fun and encourages bonding. Enter the flirt pole. 

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Yes, that's a temperature reading from my car the last week of May.

A flirt pole is really a giant cat toy for dogs. They're easy and inexpensive to make, and man, do they work! I finally made one after numerous people suggested it and Jessica Dolce wrote this cute blog post about them. I was super excited about making my first one, and happy to explain to the cashier in my local farm store why I needed PVC pipe, rope, a dog toy, and pretty duct tape. While she thought it was super cool, some customers didn't think so. In fact, they decided I must be a dog fighter, especially because the cashier greeted me with, "Hey, how's that Pit Bull?" I'm sure it didn't help their image of me when I mentioned I'd really love to have a doggy treadmill. 

Apparently, the customers asked the cashier whether she had ever met my dog, and did he have scars. Actually, Axle does have scars. He has a few. They don't know his background, or mine, but somehow they did the following math: Flirt pole = dog fighting tool to increase aggression. Flirt pole + Pit Bull = dog fighter. They weren't the only ones who believed this. I've spent a lot of time directing people toward BAD RAP's video about flirt poles, as well as explaining what a wonderful tool it is. 

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That's a good boy, Axle!

We have other things for the dogs to play with outside, but the flirt pole is in a class of its own. Basically, you play with a dog with the flirt pole like you would a cat. They chase it and try to catch the toy on the end. When they do catch it, you have them drop the toy, leave it and come to you, where they should be told to sit or lie down. You can reward them with a click, a treat, a "good boy/girl," or a simple scratch behind the ears. Then it's off to chase the flirt pole again! This engages you in your dog's play and doubles as an obedience challenge. You are teaching your dog to listen to you in a moment of high arousal -- chasing and catching. After only a few times with the flirt pole, Axle would voluntarily drop the toy and come sit at my feet. 

I am disappointed that some people automatically jump to a negative conclusion over such a wonderful and useful tool like the flirt pole. Tools are what we make them. Haven't you read about Wallace the Pit Bull? They used a spring pole and weight pulling as part of his training. These things are also often associated with dog fighters, but they shouldn't have to carry that stigma. Doggy treadmills, flirt poles, spring poles, and weight pulling are actually fantastic tools to exercise and train your dog with. 

Axle loves the flirt pole. Whenever he sees me bring it out, his whole body begins to wag with his tail! Remi is still wary of it, but she loves to snatch the toy when it's on the ground, then quickly drop it and come sit at my feet for a treat. We're loving the flirt pole, and I'm quick to tell anyone who will listen how awesome it is, particularly for these hot summer months. I'm sure I'll still run into a few people who will think I'm a dog fighter or something else crazy like that, but I hope I can help them see just how great a tool a flirt pole can be when used in the right way.

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Axle giving me a hug after a flirt pole session.

Read more about exercising and engaging with your dog:

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Mon, 10 Jun 2013 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/diy-dog-toy-toys-flirt-pole-dogfighter
<![CDATA[And Now, 9 of the Strangest Dog Products We've Ever Seen]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/9-unusual-dog-products Pet products comprise a $1 billion business. In my many travels, attendance at numerous industry events, walking the aisles of pet supply stores, and viewing multiple websites, I see many unexpected pet products. Now and then, something stops me in my tracks. Here are nine unusual dog products:

Antler chews

A lot of deer must be roaming the landscape missing their "crown." This is the thought I had when first seeing antler chews for dogs. Then I met Cindy from Scout and Zoe’s and learned that natural shedding is a common source of this clever product to satisfy dogs who love to chew. Scout and Zoe’s antlers are organic, shed by elk. They do not stain carpeting, they last for what seems like forever, and my dog, Dexter, has an affection for them. Antlers offer less risk of splintering and breakage than regular bones, so bonus points (no pun intended) for this product. Always supervise your pooch when he is eating any sort of treat, though.

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Scout and Zoe know a good chew means a happy dog.

Udder toys

The Udder Tug dog toy is made in the United States from the recycled rubber liners used in machines to milk cows. Contact with all those cows leaves an irresistible smell that dogs seem to enjoy. According to the maker's website, the scent is "Eau de Bovine." Durability note: If used as an interactive toy (one you and your dog play with together), the tug will last many months. But like any other toy, if you let your dog use it as a chew, it will be destroyed much more quickly –- he’ll have a blast doing it, though. We’ve had our Udder Tug since before Christmas; with supervised play, it is holding up just fine.

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It's udderly fun, moo-tastic, and all those other bovine puns

Self-contained portable water bowl

Across the Atlantic, I discovered a water bowl with an unusual look. The Thirsty Milo is a 1.5-liter travel/portable water bowl. I like to carry my dog’s water with me on walks and at the park, but it is difficult to carry a bottle and bowl and try to balance it all while walking my pooch. In our travels, folks have stopped me to ask where I got what looks like a funky purse. The Thirsty Milo is made of UV-resistant dye, and the company claims it will not discolor. It is impact resistant thanks to a body made of high-density polyethylene, it is dishwasher safe, and it contains recyclable plastic.

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Allergy test kit

Does your dog have itchy skin or perhaps an irritable bowel or digestive symptoms you suspect are caused by food? Cocker Spaniels share my life, so allergies and itchy skin are the norm. This product helps find a solution to scratch that itch and make it go away for good! If I hadn’t attended a webinar by world-renowned veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodds, I might not have learned about Nutriscan, a dog food sensitivity kit.

What is unusual about this product is that you test for allergies based on the dog’s saliva. NutriScan tests for the 20 most commonly ingested foods by dogs to provide you with specific results. Most notably, you get the results in approximately two weeks, allowing you to quickly get your dog on the right diet. Dog food allergies and sensitivities are no fun, and finally someone in the know has a test to help. Unusual in method, yes. Totally normal and amazing in results? Indeed!

Doggie fork

Who among us hasn’t let their dog lick a spoon? I know there are dog moms and dads who feed their dogs with a utensil, and inventor Val Arnold targets that audience with her doggie fork aka My Best Friend’s Fork. Arnold’s Rottweiler was taking a pill in a bite of food that Val had on a fork; with one swipe, her dog engulfed the fork, which lodged inside him and required urgent vet care. It has a loop on the end to prevent it from being pulled out of your hand, and it comes bejeweled with a Swarovski crystal and in a gift box.

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Safety first with the doggie fork

"Poop pack" vest

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It looks like an ordinary vest, but get closer and the secret is revealed: Doodie Pack allows dogs to carry their own waste. As founder Kristin Elliott tells it, "Doodie Pack was an idea that sat in my head for several months, but as I kept noticing others in same dog walking situation, carrying the 'nasty poop bag,' I felt more and more passionate that a solution needed to be found."

Pet parents tell her that the pack is their "duty" or utility pack, where they can stow keys, cell phone, wallet, bottled water, and treats, sort of like a "doggie –diaper bag."

Dog beer

If your dog really needs to kick back and unwind after a hard day of playing, how about a Brew Buddies malted dog treat, made with real malted barley? It’s true: Beer has gone to the dogs. Brew Buddies also contains brewer's rice and brewer's yeast, and the company says, "Whether it is watching the game, or enjoying that quiet moment together at the end of the day, Brew Buddies makes those moments together even better.” I just hope Dexter doesn’t invite his buddies over to wager when football season starts. Bottoms up!

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Bottoms up with these dog treats

Dog DNA portrait

Have a plethora of pup pics scattered in your abode? Do you have any of the "inside" of your dog on display? (Abdominal ultrasounds don’t count). Dog DNA goes “Paw-casso” with this item for the dog lover who has everything. In similar fashion to identifying a dog’s lineage and breed, dog moms and dads swab the inside of their dog’s mouth and send in the cells. What returns is a unique portrait of double-helix magnitude to proudly display.

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Bet you don't have a portrait like this one

Dog's-eye-view camera

Ever wonder what your dog is doing when you aren’t home or how he sees the world? Dexter has this product, and I can honestly attest, New York City looks completely different from a Cocker Spaniel’s vantage point. EYEnimal is a 1.2-oz. camera that requires no special software uploads or downloads and comes with a USB charger. It clips onto a dog’s collar easily, and after recording in half-hour segments for as long as 2.5 hours, you slide it off and attach it via the USB to a computer. It's Windows and Mac OS compatible. I now know what ground level really looks like. (Note: It ain’t always pretty).

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Wanna know what your dog sees? Dex tested it.

So there you have it, nine of the most off-the-beaten-track products I’ve encountered in my dog travels. What are some of the unusual products for dogs you have bought or seen? Bark at me in the comments below.

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Thu, 04 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/9-unusual-dog-products
<![CDATA[The 10 Most Intriguing New Dog Products I Saw at the Global Pet Expo]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-products-global-pet-expo I went. I walked. I scoured the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, FL, to bring you a great mix of the latest dog products you need to know about. Despite my aching feet, I had blast. With nearly 900 exhibitors, the expo is the biggest pet industry event of the year -- and the most fun. Seriously, what could be better than an event full of passionate pet people? 

Here's some fun stuff I thought you'd like:

1. Petmate Zip & Go Pet Bed 

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Petmate's Zip & Go Pet Bed gives your buddy a soft, familiar place to crash while on the road. Photo: Petmate

No more lugging around heavy, unwieldy pet beds when you're away from home. Petmate's new Zip & Go Pet Bed is a super soft, super comfy and durable bed that zips up when not in use. Handle straps make it easy to carry, and guess what? You can even throw your dog's toys and other gear right inside to keep it all contained! Side pockets offer additional storage, so now bringing all your pet's stuff with you is a cinch. 

$39.99-$59.99 at pet stores nationwide this spring.

2. Longshots Launch Toys

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Fun for your dog and for you! Soft, aerodynamic Longshots toys shoot up to 70 feet! Photo: Longshots

Talk about the ultimate game of fetch! Longshots is a launcher/toy combo that launches up to 70 feet. Made of water-resistant ballistic nylon, the Ballistic Duck (pictured here) is super durable and fun. First-time buyers can buy the launcher/toy combo and purchase additional toys separately. 

$9.99 online and at pet retailers in late spring. 

3. Samsung PetCam

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Is your dog hosting wild parties while you're not at home? Find out with the PetCam. Photo: Samsung

When you're gone, is your dog sleeping, eating, watching TV, or stealing snacks from the litter box? Now you can know for sure. Samsung's new PetCam is a wi-fi video monitor that's super easy to set up anywhere in your home. You can access the video via your smartphone, tablet, or online. And there's two-way audio so you can even love on your dog from afar. Plus, the device is capable of real-time streaming and recording high-def video, even in the dark.

$149 nationwide in May.

4. The Ruff Leash by Zee Dog 

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With the Ruff Leash, you can stop your dog from pulling and look ubercool at the same time. Photo: Zee Dog

This super-hip-looking leash is also extremely functional. The Ruff Leash is a great solution to dogs who pull. It uses a unique polyurethane spring that's flexible, resistant, and shock absorbing. And, because the spring is closest to the dog, it's designed to quickly absorb shock. A cushy neoprene handle provides a comfy grip.

$30 at Zee Dog.

5. Lickety Stik Gel Treats 

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The Lickety Stik Gel gives your pup a low-cal, vitamin charged lickety treat! Slurp! Photo: Petsafe

Dogs love Petsafe's Lickety Stiks lickable treats. Now there's a new texture and manner of delivery, through an easy-dispense bottle with a dial to help measure the amount of tasty gel released at a time. Offered in five flavors, the gel has added health benefits, targeting immunity, bone and joint, skin and coat, digestive, and stress and anxiety.

$7.99, available in spring online and at pet retailers nationwide. 

6. Zututh Breeze Toothbrush 

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Brush up, baby! The Zututh electric toothbrush makes effective brushing fast and easy. Photo: Zututh

Dog toothbrushes aren't new. But an electric dog toothbrush made with a unique angle to literally surround each tooth is. The Z-shaped head and ergonomic handle cover more surface of your dog's mouth, reducing brushing time (awesome!) and maintaining effectiveness. Available in small, medium, and large sizes. 

$9.99 at Zututh. 

7. Petlinks Scents of Security 

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Now you can be "with" your anxious dog all the time. Give him a toy...that smells like you! Photo: Petlinks

I loved these new toys by Petlinks, designed to help calm and comfort dogs by providing them with a toy that smells like their owners. The Scents of Security group of toys each contain a pocket into which the dog owner can insert an article of his or her clothing. 

$7.99 and up, available at retailers nationwide. 

8. Auto Grass by Kurgo 

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Kurgo Auto Grass will keep you and your dog safe by eliminating a driver's doggie distractions. Photo: Kurgo

Finally, a solution to distracting paws or curious dog nose coming at you while you're driving! The Kurgo Auto Grass is a plastic mat that fits in the front seat center console. Pets opt out of putting their paws into the funny-looking (and funny-feeling) plastic grass so they stay in the back. A bonus: The grass easily holds your cellphone. 

$30 nationwide or at the Kurgo website.

9. Tracerz by Innovet Pet Products 

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Help your blind dog feel more confident as he learns his way around a new environment. Photo: Tracerz

Although dogs are extremely adaptable, sometimes a little help is good. Tracerz are scent markers that help blind dogs (and cats) figure out their environment. The calming blend of essential oils help distinguish the markers from other household products. Tracerz can be affixed to most anything in your home to help your pet adjust to blindness quicker and with less anxiety. (We wrote about them in Scented Products Help Blind Dogs "See" with Their Snouts.)

$19.99 at Innovet Pet.

10. Modapet Bowls 

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Pretty and practical! Gotta love that! Modapet bowls have new colors and design updates. Photo: Modapet

For Modapet fans, here's good news: new colors and designs! For those who aren't familiar with these stylish and funky bowls, listen up. Modapet bowls are BPA-free, made of food-grade polymer, and are microwave and dishwasher safe. Plus, their durable non-slip bases keep the bowls in place. And, well, a little color never hurt anyone! The Mango Tango (pictured) features a cool new hue, larger non-slip base, and a more curved rim to further prevent spilling. 

$14.95-$24.95 online

What do you think, guys? Any of these products sound like must-haves for your household? Share in the comments below! 

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Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-products-global-pet-expo
<![CDATA[These Are the Only Fruits and Vegetables I Would Consider Putting in My Mouth]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/giveaway-play-sf-garden-fresh-dog-toys Can I share one of my most shameful secrets with you? Fruits terrify me. So do vegetables. 

I'm not being cute -- I have issues putting foods with certain textures in my mouth, and the only way you'll get me to eat a carrot is in soup. My partner has joked about taking me to a hypnotist enough times that I'm starting to feel like he's dead serious. I often tell him to can it, but I know he's just trying to keep me from keeling over dead.

Anyway: dog toys! When our friends at P.L.A.Y. SF asked if we'd like to give away a set of their Garden Fresh plush toys for Valentine's Day, the first thing that came to mind was "Urg, produce, my favorite." But you know what? These might be the cutest fruits and vegetables I've ever seen. (Mostly because they're not real, but that's just me.)

My dog, Mr. Moxie, is a vegetable fan. But he didn't understand what I was up to when I arranged this cornucopia of plush toys next to him for this shot:

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Sometimes I can't stand how cute my dog is!

When I take a new toy out, Moxie goes absolutely bananas for it. But five toys at once is apparently a sensory overload for a small dog like him, as evidenced by the video clip below:

P.L.A.Y.'s produce toy pack ($40) includes a plump, teacher-worthy apple alongside a pumpkin, zucchini, carrot, and pea pod. Each toy is beautifully crafted -- not a stitch out of place -- and each has a squeaker or two hidden within (Moxie's favorite part).Scroll down to find out how to win a set of your own!

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Would you like an apple, Mr. Moxie?

Why You Want to Win:

+ Aside from being the cutest, least-threatening fruits and veggies around, these toys are double-stitched and have a two-layer exterior for durability.

+ Like the rest of P.L.A.Y.'s products, they are eco-friendly, and stuffed with dog-safe PlanetFill filler (which is spun from recycled plastic bottles).

+ You can throw them in the washing machine without trouble.

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Why yes he would!

How to Win Some Fruits and Veggies for Your Pupster:

To enter, leave a comment below to telling me about a phobia of your own ... or a food you absolutely will not eat.

I will pick my favorite answer next Thursday, Feb. 21, at noon PST and contact the winner via email. You'll have two days to respond or I'll choose another winner. (Sorry, that's just how it goes!)

Creating a Disqus profile and avatar just takes a minute and is a great way to participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. Please note that if your Disqus account doesn't contain a valid email address, you can't win because I won't be able to contact you. That's the worst! So, pretty please, check your account.

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Thu, 14 Feb 2013 06:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/giveaway-play-sf-garden-fresh-dog-toys
<![CDATA[The Pinkie Cooper Doll: Half Human, Half Dog, All Fabulous?]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/pinkie-cooper-doll-half-human-dog-carter-bryant-bratz The guy who invented the Bratz dolls, Carter Bryant, is at it again, and he's hit gold: A doll named Pinkie Cooper that's part human, part dog, and attends New York City's World of Original Fashion academy -- WOOF, for short. 

This thing should be ... gangbusters? 

Actually, we don't know. We're not 9. Do 9-year-olds like fashionable girl-dolls who look like dogs and in turn have their own dogs who look like their half-dog parts? Or rather, isn't that exactly what they want? 

You've got to admire Bryant's spirit. His plan, according to CNNMoney, was to "create a doll that was sweet, cute, stylish and looked like [his sister's] real Cocker Spaniel named Pinkie Cooper."

He wanted to make a doll that looked like his sister's dog. We love inventors.

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Three girl-dog dolls are in the line. They are Pinkie Cooper, Ginger, and Pepper. We like how the names are equally "dog" and "girl" -- will 8-year-olds like that? Which is to say, 8-year-olds who like their fashionable girl-dolls to have a bunch of dog in them? 

The toy industry is ecstatic at the launch, which is expected in July. 

"When you put a dog's head on a human body, you've already crossed over to something that we haven't seen before in fashion dolls," Gerrick Johnson, toy industry analyst with BMO Capital Markets, told CNNMoney. "She's an example of the risk and innovation that the toy industry badly needs right now."

Jay Foreman, founder and CEO of Florida-based The Bridge Direct, which is producing the dolls, said, "Pinkie Cooper is our single biggest product launch in our four-year history."

"She's unusual. Like Bratz, she has the potential to break the mold," he continued, but "ultimately our livelihood is based on the whims of 4- to 8-year-olds."

Toys R Us, Target, Walmart, and Kmart have already placed their orders. 

Of course, we could be a little wary of this -- dogs are not playthings to be dressed up and forced to go to fashion school. Respect the canine, people! But that would be silly. Anyway, it's sort of cute? 

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Wed, 06 Feb 2013 10:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/pinkie-cooper-doll-half-human-dog-carter-bryant-bratz
<![CDATA[My Dog Is a Toy Destroyer]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-toys-behavior-toy-destroyer My dog’s mission in life is to annihilate every toy we give her. Don’t get me wrong -- Sasha is a good dog, a picture of good behavior -- smart, friendly with humans, and calm around other dogs. We adopted her from Nike Animal Rescue Foundation almost four years ago, and our best guess is that she’s a mix of Australian Shepherd and Border Collie. She’s a real sweetheart to humans and animals. To look at her adorable face, you would never suspect her innate killer instinct.

But I believe she sees herself as a superhero, and every new toy as a challenge to be conquered. When we say, “Here’s a new toy to play with,” I believe she hears, “This toy is a threat to all of humankind. Your job as protector is to stop this menace from destroying society.”

At least, that’s what I imagine goes on in her furry head.

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Sasha is a good dog -- good at wrecking playthings!

Needless to say, it’s really a challenge to find toys that last longer than a day. At pet stores, my husband and I avoid all the racks of cute plush toys and colorful rubber squeak toys. I can look at a toy and instantly visualize how it would look in pieces on my floor. But a few months ago while we were shopping for dog food and treats, we saw display of toys that looked pretty tough. I picked up the one of the Tuffy Mega Rings, which was graded a “10” on a scale between one to ten on durability.

The packaging claimed that the toys were “tiger-tested” and were constructed with seven rows of stitching, four rows of material and protective webbing on the edges. We read the employee recommendation on the display that said that her pit bull terrier had one of these toys for months and it was still in one piece. Hey, if it’s tough enough for a tiger and a pit bull terrier, it’s tough enough for Sasha.

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Oh, Tuffy, you'd really have to be made of bricks to survive Sasha.

We gave her the ring, and after the initial sniffing and excitement of her new treasure wore off, she began to dig in. In less than 30 minutes, she had punctured through the material and was pulling out the stuffing. I managed to get the toy away from her and finished pulling out all of the stuffing so she wouldn't ingest any of it. So much for durability! The manufacturer has a video of a tiger playing with the toy (you can see it here) to demonstrate how strong the product is. Well let me tell you, this tiger’s a real pussycat compared to our dog.

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Bye bye, Tuffy. Not so "tuff" now, are you?

This past Christmas, we resigned ourselves to the fact that none of her presents would live to see the New Year. We bought her a plush Christmas tree that squeaked. With a little bit of hope in our hearts, we selected a sturdy-looking retrieval toy made of jute. I imagined throwing the toy on a sunny day at the park, and Sasha faithfully running after it and returning it to us, eyes gleaming and tail wagging with pride.

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They never stood a chance.

Cut to Christmas morning. Sasha remembers that her Christmas stocking holds new treasures, and she is eager to start opening her presents. Minutes later, under a flurry of red tissue wrapping paper, the stuffed tree is sprawled out on the carpet, white cotton stuffing and squeakers all over the floor. I hold my breath, awaiting the fate of the sturdier retrieval toy. But no such luck. Sasha quickly lays into it, and it soon starts unraveling before my eyes. I begin picking up the pieces from her aftermath.

We don’t have much luck finding toys that can withstand our dog’s super powers. In fact, the only toys that have stood the test of time are an extreme Kong, a couple of tennis balls, and a Tux made by West Paw Design.

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Meet the only survivors.

The rest are in tatters around the house or in the designated toy box. Perhaps we should find her work as a dog tester, because she’s clearly good at finding weaknesses in product designs.

Cathy Weselby is a writer and marketing specialist who lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She enjoys hanging out with her Australian Shepherd mix, making mixed media art, and blogging about dogs and pop culture.

Got a Doghouse Confessional to share?

We're looking for intensely personal stories from our readers about life with their dogs. E-mail confess@dogster.com, and you might become a published Dogster Magazine author! 

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Mon, 04 Feb 2013 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-toys-behavior-toy-destroyer
<![CDATA[4 Tips for Finding a Good Playmate for Your Dog]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-training-behavior-4-tips-finding-good-playmate Dog parks may offer suitable exercise and socialization for some dogs, but they also promote unwanted behavior like jumping up on people, blowing off recall cues, pulling on leash to enter the park, and mobbing or bullying other dogs. They also may be stressful and dangerous for dogs and their people. All too often, dogs who are actually quite friendly do not thrive in the dog-park environment.

I generally encourage my clients to be choosy about who their dogs socialize with. Maybe it's like human parents, who prefer their children not to necessarily have the most friends, but the best friends, who help them to be happy and reach their full potential. 

So, how do you choose an appropriate playdate playmate for your pooch?

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Cooperative play + self-handicapping!

1. Look at play style 

While play is a topic worthy of its own article (or book!), there are a few rather easy-to-identify play styles. If you put dogs with incompatible play styles together, you'll often get some sort of conflict. Some dogs are specialists, preferring only one particular style, while others tend to be social butterflies and are much more tolerant of diverse play styles. It's always best to find playmates who like to play the way your dog plays.

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Cuba and Leila share a tug

  • The chaser: These dogs like to chase and be chased. Some dogs actually only like chasing, and will get really upset if they are chased by other dogs. 
  • The cooperative player: This dog likes tugging on a long rope toy with another dog. In dogs who are not cooperative players, toys in a social environment may increase the level of arousal and the likelihood of resource guarding. I generally only allow cooperative play between familiar dogs or dogs I know to be solid, well-established cooperative players.
  • The wrestler: This dog spends a lot of time rolling around on the ground, often making insanely weird grunting noises. They sometimes make what I call "bitey face" or "clacky mouth," where there is a lot of open-mouthed contact to the face, jowls, and neck. 
  • The tackler: This is a steamroller dog who comes on strong. These dogs like to jump up and make a lot of physical contact, and they do a lot of body-slamming in play. Tacklers tend not to be well-received by non-tacklers, so you'll need to supervise, even when two tacklers are put together, so that arousal does not escalate to the point where play becomes aggression.

What you often find is that a chaser does not take well to being tackled, and a wrestler may be totally uninterested in chasing. Cooperative players think clacky mouth is ridiculous, and pretty much everyone but tacklers wonders what the appeal in a tackler could possibly be.

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Cuba, a much bigger dog, self-handicaps for bestie Westie McKenzie.

2. Size matters -- sometimes

While size certainly does play a part in selecting appropriate playmates, I've seen great clacky-mouth or even tackling play between dogs who are dramatically different in size.

When very large dogs play with very small dogs, you always want to keep an eye on the larger dog to ensure that he is doing what trainers call "self-handicapping," whereby the stronger or more athletic participant doesn't use his full strength or speed to make himself a more appealing playmate. Perhaps you remember your dad "letting you win" at arm wrestling when he could have beaten you with little challenge. It's never fun to play if you lose all the time! 

3. Look for similar ages

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Leila is an adult dog who is an especially good puppy raiser, but not all adult dogs enjoy the company of adolescents or puppies.

Generally, it is best to select a playmate of a similar age to your dog. Puppies and adolescents tend to be very annoying to senior dogs -- I often see young dogs bullying seniors and their owners looking baffled when the senior dog snaps and lets them know he's had enough. While some seniors might tolerate tackling and chasing shenanigans, many won't -- and they shouldn't be forced to. Far better to find your dog a playmate who not only tolerates, but loves his stamina and style!

4. Three is usually a crowd

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Mokie and Monte running through an Adirondack forest together

I always prefer, whenever possible, to separate dogs into pairs. If there are three dogs, I often see one dog exhibiting "odd man out" symptoms, frustrated because the other two are just slightly more compatible and are relatively uninterested in his play advances. It's not unheard of to see two dogs team up and pick on the third dog by barking, rushing in and nipping a leg, or muzzle punching. 

Now, get out there and find a playmate! 

English Bull Terriers play in surf by Shutterstock

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Wed, 09 Jan 2013 03:03:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-training-behavior-4-tips-finding-good-playmate
<![CDATA[Would You Give Your Dog a Credit Card?]]> http://www.dogster.com/bolz/dog-products-toys-puprwear-credit-card Would you -- as my parents did as I was entering college -- hand over a piece of plastic bewitched with enchantments and say, "Now, this is only for emergencies?" Do you think it would help your dog develop a sense of financial responsibility?

You might think it's a good idea -- every dog should know how to handle his money, and should anything happen, you'll know he'll always be able to buy himself groceries -- but once you start finding weird things on your credit card statment like, oh, "Tennis Balls Unlimited" and subscriptions to newspapers in languages your dog doesn't even speak, you might think again. Two trips to Vegas and one stretch Escalade rental later, I'm still paying off the extravagances of my youth.

But there's a solution to this -- and it's perhaps the solution my parents should have thought of. Why not get your dog a plush credit card, like one of these we found at PupRWear?

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Everywhere you want to be.

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Comes with a free cosmetic bag!

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No interest until next year -- or ever!

Then they can use it to buy a Pawda bag to carry their small dogs. (Very meta, right?)

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Can you fit a Chihuahua in there?

An iPaw'd to keep up to date with their dog friends on Arfbook.

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Fido's update, "Just peed on a fire hydrant" received 100 likes.

And a Furcedes for transportation.

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Dogs can't drive! Oh wait ...

Better yet, maybe we should just stick to a well-slobbered tennis ball. Or better yet, a nice, thick stick. (But if you would like any one of these silly toys, you can buy them here.)

Photo: Black labrador puppy lying on a pile of money by Shutterstock.com

Images via PupRWear

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Tue, 11 Dec 2012 08:00:00 -0800 /bolz/dog-products-toys-puprwear-credit-card
<![CDATA[10 Gifts for the Dog Lover Who Has Everything]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/gift-guide-10-gifts-dog-lover-who-has-everything Is there an Extreme Dog Lover (EDL) on your holiday list? By which we mean dog lovers who are a challenge to shop for because they're so amazingly well-versed in all things dog?

A word to the wise: These folks are opinionated about what products we put in, on, and around precious canine companions. Many are highly house-proud, and dog lifestyle gifts from bowls to beds are created to complement a specific style of interior -- be it traditional or modern decor. Hence, for a hardcore canine-design hound, it'd be tough bordering on impossible to get a doggie home-furnishing gift exactly right.

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Don't forget water supplies for your pet, too. Thirsty dog drinks water by Shutterstock

So, here's how to prevent disappointment (or regifting) and ensure that your favorite EDL thinks only warm and fuzzy thoughts contemplating your ever-so-thoughtful present.

1. Pet-food gift certificate

Pet food and treats are always a necessity, but don't buy the actual food or treats -- chances are your EDL has strong opinions about pet nutrition. And heaven help you if you gift a vegan with, say, raw-meat treats!

To avoid that kind of snafu, get a gift certificate to her favorite local mom-and-pop or big-box pet food store, or a mail-order supplier such as Pet Food Direct. That way, she can redeem it for the food and/or treats of her choice.

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Gift certificates don't need much wrapping. Basenji with Christmas tree by Shutterstock

2. Water, water everywhere

Ah, water, It's such a basic necessity, and yet what about those times, such as during a natural disaster, when it threatens to be in short supply and becomes a precious liquid commodity? In that case, it helps to have a case of premium bottled water on hand.

Give your EDL a case of some fabulous glass-bottled mineral water (Italy's Fiuggi brand comes in seasonally appropriate green bottles). For fun, make this gift both practical and whimsical by removing one of the bottles and replacing it with a bottle of wine or bubbly! Or, if you're feeling extra-generous, a water ionizer will turn ordinary tap water into an elixir of canine (and human and feline) wellness.

3. Silent night, Whole-y night

Whole Foods is such a dogsend: It's open late and carries a wide selection of items for dogs and people of every nutritional persuasion (not to mention an array of bottled water brands, per above).

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Raw bones might be the best treat ever for your dog. Cute dog thinks about bones by Shutterstock

A gift certificate for this enticing emporium is always appreciated by anyone, but especially so by an EDL -- it'll help her restock on whatever just ran out, whether it's pet food, coconut oil, probiotics, homeopathic remedies, veggies, steak, or raw beef bones (the best holiday treat ever, from a dog's perspective).

4. Atmosphere enhancers

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Here's one thing all EDLs can agree on: Items that help keep the home front fresh and calm are always welcome, especially at holiday time, when we expect more house guests and higher stress levels.

One such item is the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag, which contains bamboo charcoal to absorb unwanted odors. A case of Get Serious! stain and odor extractor is also a super-thoughtful, practical gift to make doggie messes disappear. 

5. Fetching flu fighter 

We know that dog walking is a joy, not a chore -- unless, that is, you're down with the flu, in which case it's a nightmare.

Now that it's officially cold and flu season, assemble a gift basket that will truly be treasured by the frequent dog-walker. Just fill a decorative receptacle with remedies to help combat the common cold quickly and keep her immune system in top shape: Peppermint tea, raw honey, coconut oil, probiotics (Jarrow has a great new, "Pom-Berry"-flavored chewable probiotic-plus-Vitamin C lozenge), Nordic Naturals Omega-3 oil (in decorative cobalt-blue glass bottles), Umcka Cold Care, and Sambucus

6. Festive first aid 

Regular Band-Aids, large gauze pads, tape, povidone iodine, and polysporin or Bacitractin ointment are essentials for any first-aid kit.

Our ideal first-aid kit would also include Pawz Dog Boots (to protect Spot's bandaged paw from making contact with the mean streets), arnica montana pellets (for bruises), and neem oil, which has multiple healing uses.

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Desiree gets a rinse after an application of neem oil shampoo.

Assemble these items in a handsome container and offer it as a pretty yet practical gift. Your favorite EDL will think of you with gratitude the very next time one of her dogs sustains an owie. 

7. Pet-person pampering 

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Rescue Chocolate is delicious -- and all the proceeds go to animal rescue!

Because you always put the dog first, those pouncing paw-pads are probably well-protected already -- so why not remind your EDL that humans are entitled to a little pampering too?

For those freezing, midwinter-morning dog walks, help keep sensitive human skin soft and protected -- especially leash-worn hands -- with lovely lotions such as neem-enriched body butter. Throw in some all-natural facial and eye serums by Jurlique plus a bar or two of Rescue Chocolate, and your EDL will remember you all year with a warm, contented smile. 

8. Staycation for their pup 

Does your favorite EDL daydream of getting away from it all for just a few days (gasp) without the hounds? Maybe she's just met a hot new human playmate she'd like to spend uninterrupted time with. Or perhaps an elderly or ailing human family member is suddenly hospitalized and needs undivided attention.

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Treat your friend's pup to a pampering at doggy day care. German Shepherd in towels by Shutterstock

Give your pal a certificate to a few days' stay at a super-reputable dog boarding facility with fun amenities, so she can rest assured that the dogs will have a safe, fun staycation while she catches a break.

9. Help out an animal charity

A holiday donation to a worthy cause-for-paws is always warmly welcomed by hardcore dog lovers, especially if their own dogs were adopted at animal shelters.

Targeting small, local rescue groups that could really use the cash infusion is a safe bet. But if you want to donate to a national group, for safety's sake just be sure your donation is going to a cause that actually operates a shelter in addition to doing dog's work in political circles. (Best Friends Animal Society, which has a shelter and worked tirelessly to get Los Angeles to ban retail sales of pets, is a fine example.)

10. Give a gift to planet Earth 

The gift of eco-friendly poop bags is always welcome; environmentally minded EDLs are always gung-ho to pick up after our pups. You can't go wrong if you pick one we recommend.

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Use eco-friendly poop bags to pick up after your pup. No dog fouling by Shutterstock

With each scoop of poop, your giftee will feel like she's helping keep planet Earth clean and green.

Are you giving a gift to an Extreme Dog Lover this year? What's your plan? Let us know in the comments!  

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Wed, 05 Dec 2012 07:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/gift-guide-10-gifts-dog-lover-who-has-everything
<![CDATA[Tug On This! We Love The Boomering Dog Toy by Abo Gear]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-toys-boomering-abo-gear At our animal house, my roommates and I like everything we eat and play with to be all-natural. So naturally (ahem), we're obsessed with the Boomering. This tug toy is made by Abo Gear Aussie Naturals -- which, despite its Down Under-sounding name, is in fact based in Georgia -- and is (as you may have guessed) all-natural.

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The Boomering is made of wool and tough "jutey cotton rope," and filled with coconut fiber. The Boomering is designed to attract playful pups with its unique combination of all-natural scents and textures. And it works!

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Here's another thing my furry roommates and I agree on: supporting businesses that support animal rescue. And it so happens that all ABO Gear Aussie Naturals products are, as the company proudly proclaims, "tested by Atlanta's Toughest Rescue Dogs" -- namely, the rescued residents of Atlanta's excellent Barking Hound Village Foundation, who get to gear-test these posh products while they await their furever homes. As Tiki and Bentley prove in the photo, they gladly wear themselves out in the process.

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Fri, 28 Sep 2012 09:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-toys-boomering-abo-gear
<![CDATA[What We're Obsessed With: Ultra-Strong Bionic Dog Toys]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/bionic-dog-toys Growing up, I idolized the Bionic Woman of TV fame and her sexy Bionic German Shepherd dog, Max. I'm glad I've lived long enough that bionic dogs are science fact, not science fiction. And the way my German Shepherd dog Desiree clamps down on a stick, you'd suspect her jaw might be bionic just like Max's. So naturally, if someone waves a new line of dog toys around and calls it "bionic," I'll bite.

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Super strong toy.

Bionic Pet Products' dog toys are made from -- surprise -- Bionic Rubber, which is specially engineered to survive the most aggressive onslaught of jaws and paws. The compound's "cross-linked molecules" make it flexible, bouncy, and nearly puncture-proof. That all sounds toxically high-tech, but believe it or not, Bionic Rubber is totally nontoxic (it's actually an FDA food-grade material, so no worries if curious kids taste-test it). What's more, it's 100 percent recyclable!

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Intriguing shapes ... from the future.

According to the manufacturer, fewer than 5 percent of dogs are able to outsmart these toys. So far, none of my canine crew has managed to destroy them, despite repeated gnawings and power tuggings. Plus, Bionic toys float and they're dishwasher-safe, so slimy saliva removal is a cinch. (Can you tell their invention was inspired by a slobbering, water-loving Labrador Retriever?)

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Tue, 10 Jul 2012 10:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/bionic-dog-toys