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If you’re a new pet owner, it can be overwhelming to make big decisions for your new family member. From food brand and quantity to leashes and training, there’s a lot to consider. If you have pets, you probably don’t realize you’re making these common mistakes. With the help of the professionals, I’ve shopped Amazon to find simple solutions to help you avoid them in the future.
I’ve included books from vets with insight into your dog’s body language, stress signals, health, and even potential insurance. These tools will make you feel more confident in making decisions and will give you a better understanding of your best friend. While these mistakes may seem small, they could be contributing to stress, anxiety, or misbehavior in your dog.
Each of these products was selected after chatting with the pros, and they’re backed by great reviews from pet owners like yourself. Here’s what you should be putting in your cart.
Most first-time cat owners don’t realize that cats prefer having their water and food in different areas of the home. This set of raised pet bowls is the perfect solution because the two bowls are separate. Anthony Duggan, the founder of kittyinsight.com, says “...they have evolved to instinctively understand food from the hunt can contaminate and poison their water source.” These bowls have the added benefit of being able to be tilted at an angle to make help your pet eat more comfortably while making less of a mess. The stainless steel bowls are rustproof and non-leaching, plus they are dishwasher safe. The bamboo stands feature anti-slip feet to stay in place.
Many dog owners skip the crate-training phase because they feel like it’s “mean” or “cruel” to lock up their pet, but in reality, crate training can make your pet feel safe. Kevin Ryan, a professional dog trainer at Superb Dog, says, “In addition to helping with housebreaking, it provides a safe and secure place for your dog throughout its life. It’s not jail for the dog, but rather a desirable den for them.” This metal crate is durable and features a pet-safe slide-bolt door latch and comes with a divider panel, plastic pan, and carrying handle. It’s easy to assemble and take on the go when you’re traveling, too.
If your dog is acting up, it may be because they're not getting enough exercise. It can be hard to let your dog get his energy out if you live in a small space, but this “flirty pole” toy is a great way to engage your pet. It features a durable polyester webbing lure that’s attached to the end of a 36-inch pole. Use it to entice your dog to run, jump, and play until they're tired. This one includes a squeaker and is safe for dogs of all sizes and breeds. Ryan says “If you can’t take them on long walks or to the park to run and play on certain days, you can make up for it with some intense exercise at home with a flirt pole session which is sure to tire them out quickly as they chase the elusive ‘prey.’”
Buying dog food in bulk will save you money, but if it’s not stored properly, it could result in making your pet sick. Ryan warns, “Slowly going through a big bag of food can cause the kibble to go stale, get moldy, or even go rancid.” This airtight food container has earned more than 66,000 reviews because it’s pest-proof, BPA-free, and comes in multiple sizes. The threaded locking system and reliable double gaskets keep moisture out, keeping your pet’s food fresh.
Skip the expensive pet vacuums and opt for this carpet rake that’s just as effective. Ryan noted, "The rubber broom works amazingly well on carpets, rugs, hardwood floors, and other smooth surfaces to collect fur. You’ll be shocked at how much it finds." The rubber broom squeegees hair away. The telescoping handle extends from three to five feet to reach every corner of your home.
Expert dog trainer and co-owner of Stayyy, Aaron Rice, believes that pets require more than just food and toys. “Pets need a lot of attention and love in order to be happy,” Aaron told us. One way to make sure they’re getting their fill is with a pet carrier like this sling bag. It holds pets up to 15 pounds so your four-legged friend can go everywhere with you. The bag features adjustable shoulder straps, a quick-release buckle, extra storage, and a safety strap to keep your pet from jumping out. The breathable and soft Oxford cloth is easy to wash and dries quickly.
Sure, Fido’s breath will never smell great, but that doesn’t mean you should skip brushing his teeth. Daniel Caughill, the co-founder of The Dog Tale, says staying up-to-date on your pet’s dental hygiene will save you lots of money and headaches down the road. Caughill says “Periodontal disease is a big and expensive issue for dogs, especially as they get older. By maintaining good dental hygiene now, you can avoid costly tooth extractions later.” You can’t just use any kit though, since dogs have different needs than humans. This tartar control kit comes with a traditional toothbrush, as well as a finger brush, and toothpaste. The natural ingredients of the toothpaste reduce tartar and smelly breath, and can even whiten your pet’s smile. This kit is available in three flavors for your pet: beef, vanilla ginger, and banana mint.
Before you head out on a walk with your dog, be sure to grab poop bags and some water. “For the most part, dogs don’t sweat like humans do,” Caughill says. “Instead, they pant, pulling cool air over their moist tongue and into their body.” Keeping a travel pet water bottle with you is convenient to use and a great way to make sure those moist tongues stay moist. This one is foldable and features a large bowl for them to drink out of. When they’re done, the bowl folds over the bottle keeping it from spilling. The 18-ounce bottle has a waterproof lock to prevent spills, as well as a hand strap and included straw for you.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian working with hepper.com, says overfeeding is one of the most common mistakes that first-time pet parents make. “Some pet owners overfeed simply because they don’t know how much food their pet should eat per day,” they noted. This measuring cup makes it easy to serve your pet their recommended food amount. The food scoop has four measurements: ¼ cup, ½ cup, ¾ cup, and 1 full cup so you can directly measure their food and dispense it in one swoop. The scoop is dishwasher safe and features a sturdy handle.
As much as we love our dogs as if they’re part of the family, they are still animals with instincts and behaviors very different from our own. “Learning about their behavior, breed, and history can alleviate stress from your pet, strengthen your bond with them, and allow you to provide better fulfillment for them,” says professional dog groomer and owner of Pawsmetologist Christina Ostro. That’s why she recommends the book Decoding Your Dog. Ostro says that before you can truly begin training your pet, you need a baseline knowledge of why they are the way they are. This understanding will transform your relationship with your pet. One five-star reviewer noted, “The authors explain why dogs act a certain way, what triggers specific behaviors, and they describe the many signals a dog is sending us in great detail and easy to understand.”
"Many dog owners make the mistake of allowing their dogs off-leash outside without a solid recall,” Ostro said. “Keeping your dog on a long line leash while outside and practicing their recall command can prevent a variety of disasters." This particular version is 33 feet long, and it’s available in five colors and 16 sizes.
Pets can be stinky, but be careful what you use to eliminate the odor because some products could be harmful to your dog. Licensed Vet Dr. Wendy Willkins, DVM, Ph.D. recommends using all-natural lavender oil. It’s safe for your pet and can disguise odors to leave your home feeling fresh. While lavender is safe, other essential oils like eucalyptus are toxic to both cats and dogs. She says it’s best to “avoid the use of air fresheners, wax/oil vaporizers, etc. altogether.” This bottle of lavender oil is undiluted and can be sprayed, diffused, or applied topically.
Keeping your pet properly hydrated is crucial, especially in the summertime. This pet water fountain is a desirable alternative to ordinary water bowls. Co-founder of DogDesires Sharon Williams says a stainless steel fountain like this one is perfect for two reasons: “Firstly, water that is stagnant and still ends up with a layer of bacteria on top of it after some time. Secondly, because our pets can actually hear the water running, it serves as a reminder to drink and stay hydrated." This one is whisper quiet and features a circulating filtration system that purifies the water. It has three different drinking modes and comes with an adapter, pump, three filters, a sponge, and a mat.
You may not be clipping your pet’s nails as often as you should. Professional dog trainer Julia Jenkins says, “If you have a dog, you should be trimming their nails every two to three weeks. For cats, every four to six weeks is usually sufficient.” These dog clippers make it easy and painless for you and your pet. They feature a quick safety guard that prevents over-clipping as well as a nail file. Jenkins warns that not clipping them enough can “cause all sorts of problems ranging from pain when they walk to infection,” so it’s great to get in the practice of trimming regularly.
A dog training clicker is an easy way to train your pooch without loading them up with treats. “One of the most common mistakes people make when training their pets is not using positive reinforcement. This will help to reinforce desired behaviors and make them more likely to occur in the future,” says Jenkins. This pack comes with four clickers, each with a wrist strap, that are easy to push. Just one click after a positive behavior, over time, will help to train your dog. It can also be used on cats, birds, chickens, sheep, mice, and horses.
Puppy pads are convenient when your pup is being potty trained, but it could actually be confusing your dog more and setting it up for failure. President and Founder of Doggie Lawn, Natalie Youn says, “The reason this is bad is that you're setting your puppy up to a lifetime of thinking it's acceptable to pee on anything that resembles a pee pad (i.e. bath mat, rug, etc)." Instead, choose an option that looks like grass. This indoor litter box for dogs features real living grass to make the transition outside more seamless. The grass absorbs odors and is easy to dispose of when your pup is done. The grass can be composted since it’s 100% natural.
This other multi-use alternative to pee pads is made with natural bark from trees to encourage pets to go to the bathroom outside. Unlike disposable puppy pads, this one can be used up to 60 times or a full month. The natural bark absorbs odors to keep your home smelling clean while your pet gets potty trained.
Many dog parents are lost when it comes to which leash to use. And not all dogs will respond the same to certain leashes. Shonyae Johnson, a certified dog trainer and the behavior manager for Operation Kindness, says “I would recommend a nylon or rope leash since they are easy to clean and use and still allow a full range of control.” This nylon leash comes in 6, 8, or 10-feet lengths and offers soft padded handles and thick leads. It’s lightweight yet super-durable for medium and large dog breeds. Choose from 25 different colors.
Johnson also advises against retractable leashes because of the noise they make and the likelihood of getting wrapped up in the line. This rope leash has a thick, padded handle that keeps you in control, especially if your dog is a puller.
When trying to teach your pet to “stay,” many pet owners make the same mistake: calling their dog to come and then stay. Rover professional dog trainer Nicole Ellis says, “Instead, try going to your dog and rewarding him for staying right where he is." This will keep your dog focused on the single act you’re working on — staying. Using small rewards like these three-calorie treats will keep your pup’s attention without overfeeding them. This pack has earned more than 15,000 five-star reviews from other pet owners.
You can better train and love your pet when you fully understand them. Dogs often send stress signals before they react negatively through biting or barking. Ellis recommends the book Doggie Languages because it will help you identify your pet’s stress signals. “By knowing when our dogs are stressed we can move at their pace and communicate better,” Ellis noted. The illustrated book is a practical “instruction manual” for dog owners.
If you have multiple pets in the house that have grown hostile towards one another, there may be a super easy solution: don’t let them eat side by side. Professional dog trainer & behavior consultant at The Mannerly Dog, Nancy M. Kelly, B.S., CPDT-KA states, “Trainers often hear about two or more dogs who have been eating next to each other ‘suddenly’ fighting, but these fights have usually been brewing for a while. Dogs communicate through subtle body language and facial expressions, and humans often miss the exchanges." This individual food bowl is recommended as a solution. The black wrought iron stand and stainless steel bowls are easy to clean and sturdy, but because it’s just one bowl, you can easily feed your pets separately.
In addition to keeping your pets separate while eating, Kelly recommends putting them in an entirely different room for mealtimes. “It’s best to allow dogs a relaxing meal by feeding them in separate rooms, where they can feel secure that their meal doesn’t need to be guarded, no dogs are staring at their food, and they can eat in peace,” Kelly added. An easy way to create a safe and enclosed space for them is by using a baby gate. This extra-wide option includes a six-inch extension kit, four pressure mounts, and wall cups. This bestseller has earned more than 44,000 five-star reviews from parents and dog owners alike.
You can also feed your pet in his or her crate. Not only will this ensure they are safe and will prevent any dog fights, but it will also create a stronger bond between your dog and their crate. This soft crate is another option that can be comforting to smaller dogs. It is easy to set up and collapses flat when it’s not in use. It features a solid steel frame, as well as a mattress pad and waterproof bottom. “Even if your dog is already ‘OK’ with her crate, making the crate her meal area can only make things better,” Kelly said.
Jumping is a hard habit to break in dogs, but keeping them on a hand-free leash will give you the ability to safely restrain them while distracting them. “It’s best to keep him on a leash and feed him treats, one at a time, to keep his attention on you while visitors are coming in your home or while you talk to someone outside,” said Kelly. This waist leash features a bungee leash that allows your dog to speed up and slow down without jerking you around. The leash also includes a fanny pack for holding poop bags, treats, and more.
Even when you’re not on a walk with your pup, a treat pouch you wear on your waist can come in handy. Kelly says it’s great to “wear a treat bag for easy access to treats – your training tools." This pouch bag has a magnetic closure, as well as a waterproof and removable liner to clean out the bag after it’s been filled with treats, dirty toys, or other tools. There are three ways to carry the bag, each with plenty of storage and optimal positioning while you train your pooch.
A crucial component of training your dog is being prepared to offer positive or negative reinforcement at all times. While it’s great to set aside time to help your pet practice certain tricks, the best way to associate the behavior with a treat is to do it all the time — even if you didn’t cue them to perform the trick. “Carry treats with you and give your dog one every time she sits, whether you asked her to or not,” Kelly advises. Use other opportunities like when you feed her or take her outside for her to show you her new skill and reward her. These grain-free treats are an affordable reward option. They’re made with real deboned beef and without any gluten or poultry. The protein-rich treats are loved by all kinds of dogs.
Just like your own health, being proactive when it comes to your pet’s health is crucial. Julie Burgess, a Certified Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) at SeniorTailWaggers says, “Yearly exams, physicals, fecal exams, a urinalysis, and bloodwork are crucial for keeping tabs on your pet. Many diseases can either be cured or managed very well with treatment if caught early.” She recommends using a pet health guide, like this one from a holistic veterinarian and scientist Dr. Gary Richter. The book explores a variety of practices and treatments of common dog diseases.
Another way to be prepared for any potential health issues is to purchase pet insurance. Burgess says most cats cost on average about $10,000 in their lifetime, and dogs are even more. Having pet insurance can “help with unexpected illnesses and injuries for your pet.” But like people's insurance, there are plenty of rules and exceptions in the fine print. This book gives you a vet's perspective on insurance and breaks down the difference between pet health savings accounts and insurance. It helps you understand how to create a customized plan that will minimize your out-of-pocket costs.
This Petcube cam is more than just a way to spy on your pets when you’re at work. According to Burgess, this model can also aid in keeping up with your pet’s health. “The Petcube cam is an easy and inexpensive way to keep an eye on your pets,” Burgess said. “You can start a chat right from the PetCube app and consult your veterinarian if you see concerning behavior. Most vets are happy to answer questions and alleviate worries, and it's better to be safe than sorry." The 1080p HD video camera has two-way audio so you can talk with your pet, as well as night vision that makes it easy to see your pet even if it’s dark. The magnetic mount makes it easy to install.