Life’s too short to spend all day researching online to determine what products work and which ones do not. This is a list I have been compiling for years of products that I have used and liked. I’ve put them all here in one place so we do not have to constantly look them up.
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Puppy & Mentally Stimulating Dog Toys
At our house, we are in full-blown puppy mode.
We have our seven-year-old Mini Goldendoodle, Lexie, who enjoys pulling the stuffing out of toys, and our new Golden Retriever boy named Banks.
So far Banks enjoys holding and playing with his toys but not destroying them like Lexie. This said, we still look for sturdier toys that will hold up a bit longer just in case Lexie decides she wants one of his toys when we are not looking.
Fortunately, she seems to know her toys from his so it hasn’t been much of a problem.
Since we are in the throws of puppyhood, I thought now would be a good time to share what is working for us with Banks.
Quality Dog Toys
Like all new dog parents, we probably bought way too many toys for our puppy. However, with puppies, having a variety of toys and treats to keep them mentally stimulated is very important. We like to rotate toys throughout the day, so he does not get bored.
Octopus Dog Toy
Banks loves playing tug with this toy. The fabric is durable, and we can tug and tug and not worry about it breaking. He also likes playing fetch with it and will shake it like crazy once he gets it. This is a very flexible toy that you can use for many different purposes. If you have two dogs like we do, they will likely play tug with this toy as well.
Parrot Dog Toy
The parrot dog toy offers a lot of mental stimulation. The rope feet slide side to side, the tail has a crinkle to it and the body fabric has a unique texture. Bank loves carrying around his parrot toy and nibbling on the rope feet to keep his mouth active while teething.
Not to mention it is a high-quality-looking toy, so you don’t have to hide it when guests come over to meet your puppy. This said it’s not just for a puppy. Dogs of all ages will enjoy it. We’re just in puppy mode at our house right now.
We bought one of those dog puzzles when Lexie was a puppy. We have used it with banks several times as well. While fun for the dogs, the game just does not last long enough. When you are in puppy mode, you need something that is going to occupy their minds for longer. You are going to want to drink a cup of coffee or have time to put dishes away, and you need an activity to keep them busy so you can have a free moment.
That’s where these two mentally stimulating and rewarding toys/dog games come into play.
Snuffle Mat for Dogs
You can use this as a shorter game adding 7 or 8 treats to it and opening it up wide for them to work their noses looking for the treats. You can also sinch it up tighter and feed them a meal in it. The snuffle mat will cause them to eat slower and work harder for their meal.
Interactive Treat Dispenser
With Buddy, our first Golden Retriever, we had this orange ball that he could roll around and if it rolled just right a few pieces of food or treats would fall out. He loved pushing that ball all over the house.
I looked all over hoping we still had it for Banks to use, but I didn’t find it. Our dog trainer told us about this treat dispenser and what’s nice about this one is you can adjust how easy it is for the treats to fall out. This way you can keep a puppy interested with more frequent treats or an adult with less frequent treats.
At first, we were not sure of it based on the size (it’s bigger than we thought), but then we realized he absolutely loves it and the size is not an issue.
Safety Treat / Bone Holders
One challenge with puppies is finding just the right things for them to chew on so they don’t destroy your home.
However, puppies are especially prone to choking and getting chew bone blockages if they do not fully chew up their bones before swallowing.
For this reason, you need a way to make sure your puppy does not ingest a chew bone before it’s ready.
We are using these two products and having good success. For high-value treats, we are adding cod (it smells so bad), but it’s a great treat for the crate when we have to be away.
Dog Health & Wellness Items
Bad Smelling Anal Glands
All dogs have scent glands located near their rectum. These glands release a bad smell, just like a skunk. Your Golden Retriever will express their glands every time that they poop. The fishy scent that they express from anal glands has a very strong smell that can cause your dog to smell very bad.
Your Golden Retriever can also get a little bit of poop stuck in the fur that is around their rectum. If you notice a bad odor on your dog, the first thing to do is to look under their tail to make sure that this area is clean.
If the anal glands are causing your dog to have issues, this means that you need to take your dog to the vet. Your vet can express these glands for you or show you how to express these glands at home. They will also make sure that their anal glands are not infected. If your dog’s anal glands stay full, they can easily get impacted and infected.
You can add a little bit of fiber to your dog’s diet to help them express their anal glands easier. There is a supplement that you can give your dog called Glandex. This will help your dog be able to express their glands easier each time that they poop.
Smelly or Dirty Ears
If your Retriever has had an ear infection, it is best to clean their ears. If your Retriever makes frequent trips to the groomer, then they will not need this done as often. Typically you will either smell something bad or you will see your dog shaking his head often as signs of an ear ache.
To get your Retriever’s ears clean, I have found this liquid ear cleaner to work best. I simply squirt it in the ear, massage the ear to loosen up all of the gunk and then carefully wipe out the ear. Yes, it can be a messy and smelly job, but I promise it will be well worth it for you and your dog.
Here’s the product I use now.
Eventually, your retriever is going to have an emergency and you will need to be prepared to take action. You can make this kit yourself or purchase it on that is already made.
You will need to include many of the basic things that you would for yourself.
Identification Tag and/or Microchip
The last thing you want to happen is to lose your new puppy. These dogs are highly sought after and can easily get pickup up out of your yard.
If your dog is microchipped or has an ID tag on it is easier for them to find their way home if they ever get out of your yard and lost.Dr. Sara Ochoa
You can pick up an ID tag at your local pet store or order them online. Many of these tags can come in different colors or shapes so that you can match your dog’s tag to their collar or harness.
Home Again is a very popular microchip company that vet use. This microchip can be implanted by your vet, or you can do it at home if you feel comfortable giving your pet a shot.