Have you got a cupboard full of pretty rubbish dog toys? Half broken perhaps or discarded months ago but as soon as you go to put it in the bin…. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR DOGS LIFE!? Have you got a load of leads or collars that promised to revolutionise your walks? Or have you just got loads of stuff that isn’t rubbish, it’s just not great?
Join the club. I honestly don’t want to tot-up what we’ve spent on dog entertainment, toys and lifestyle items but I’m going the help you out here….. just buy the good stuff and you will save yourself a lot of cash (and cupboard space) in the long run.
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As someone who uses dog fields daily I need to have a plethora of stuff on hand to make sure that our dogs have a really fun visit to each field, get sufficient exercise and enrichment – even in a 1 acre flat paddock. We also travel a fair bit so I need that kind of gear too – health and safety stuff and the all important anti-mud, rain, heat and snow gear….So much gear.
Having spent more than any dog owner should on this stuff, I thought I’d share my best and most useful finds in the hope that it saves you a few quid.
I’ve compiled a list of tried and tested gear – all of which we own and have put through their paces under extensive testing.
Before you start filling up your Amazon basket here are a few things before we start:
- None of this stuff is cheap – we have learned the hard way that with dogs the age old adage, ‘buy cheap buy twice’ should probably be extended to ‘buy cheap, buy weekly’
- Our dogs are not spoiled – they don’t have tonnes of toys but what they do have needs to be good for them both mentally and physically – they’re also both considered super-chewers.
- Never underestimate the life changing value of stuff that makes your life a tiny bit easier!
The Boring Stuff – Let’s get admin out of the way.
1) A Water Bowl and Car Container
Why? Because not all dog field owners clean their water bowls daily, some don’t supply them for hygiene reasons, and if you’ve got weirdo dogs like ours, they might not drink out of ‘public water facilities’. No bad thing – bring your own and an old towel to dry it off.
We use a regular, easy to clean, aluminium bowl. We have a travel sized one because otherwise we waste water on the road by filling a whole massive bowl which then gets chucked. By far the cheapest place I’ve found to pick them up is The Range – these are the ones we use.
We also have a water container for the car. We don’t just recycle a used water bottle because we need to remember that the water might have been there a few days and that’s no good. Dogs are just as suspectable to waterborne disease as humans and we have a dog that has a very sensitive stomach. Having a formal item for the job keeps us mindful. We use this mini bowser (it’s actually for a fridge) that has a tap for the following reasons:
- We don’t forget it and it has a place in the car
- It’s got a push tap – you can turn it on one-handed
- It’s robust – the collapsible or bottles ones can get punctured, squashed or cracked getting lugged in and out of the car
2) Mini Bin
You will thank me for this gem! A dog field we use frequently has withdrawn it’s waste collection service and there are a lot of dog fields that require you to take your dog waste home with you.
That means having filled dog poo bags in your car which quite frankly, unless you’re raw feeding, is gross! Even worse when you forget to remove it straight away…. So I got a mini bin with a spring-open lid to stop any fumes escaping. Super easy to clean.
More Boring (but life changing) stuff! Part 1: Combatting Mud
3) The Mud Daddy
If you get this right, you can avoid exactly 89% of baths. You probably only need the 5litre one (we have the 8litre version and never use anywhere near the full amount) and I strongly advise getting the neoprene jacket for keeping the water warm. Ours is used almost daily throughout winter and after lengthy negotiations, our dogs accepted that this was better than a bath and therefore will be tolerated. They come in a bunch of colours too.
4) MudBuster – paw wash
For those who aren’t mud-magnets, you might get away with a MudBuster. We use these in the ‘shoulder season’ where mud mostly stays where it belongs but a paw-wash is required either from salty paths, sprayed fields or just general muck. We have the medium one which is great for Fleur but Arbre could go a size up to the large to get up to his knees.
More Boring (but life changing) stuff! Part 2: Combatting Rain
Our one recommendation in this section is the Equafleece – there are plenty of cheaper imitation dog fleeces about but out of all the ones we’ve tried, nothing comes close to the effectiveness, quality and durability of the Equafleece brand. Our top tip is to measure carefully and take account of how fluffy your dog is – Fleur is a size up from what we initially thought.
Even more Boring (but life changing) stuff! Part 3: Heat
6) RuffWear Cool Vest and Harness
Some dogs just don’t like cool mats. Our dogs like them ok but they puncture them with annoying regularity and they don’t repair well.
There are a tonnes of cooling coats on the market – we’re fans of this Ruffwear gear because they have the harness option which is far more agreeable to Arbre who hates dress up and has slightly squiffy measurements so the adjustability is really good.
Ruffwear gear is on the pricy side but pick cool vests up during the winter and you’ll get a bargain. In fact this is our top tip – don’t wait until a heat wave is being reported to prep – get all the cooling mats, bandanas and jackets you want between November and April.
Last Boring thing: Towels
If you’re like us you will have a pile of old bath towels that are designated for doggo use in the corner of the kitchen. My next suggestion does not eliminate the need for these but it is a game changer all the same.
7) Ruff and Tumble – Drying Coats / Dressing Gowns
Once either of our dogs have been bathed we have the unenviable task of drying them without the use of a hair drier (a story for another day). After a vigorous rubdown, they both put on their ‘dressing gowns’.
I know – apparently we’re those people now. Let me be clear – having a dressing gown for your dog is very much considered a non-essential item but when our dogs hoon around the house trying to rub off the awful smell of ‘clean’, they don’t get any satisfaction. Not only does it prevent them from getting the sofa smeared in wet dog, it also stops them getting a chill.
We chose the Ruff and Tumble Drying Coats and we haven’t regretted it – they wash well, they fit well and they’re the Barbour Jacket of dog drying coats.
We also use it to wrap Fleur post walks for her journey home – her thick coat can get drenched with dew in the winter and it just makes sure she comes home dryish.
THE Best Dog Toys
Fleur and Arbre are the self proclaimed gurus of dog toys. Here’s their process:
- They might be medium sized but they are classified as ‘Super Chewers’ by any breed standard – they call themselves the ‘Distructovores’.
- Fleur is a female Collie X is a ‘one and done’ kind of girl – attention span of a gnat, if a thing isn’t mind blowingly brilliant in every way in the first 30 seconds of analysis, it might as well go in the bin.
- Fleur and Arbre are siblings and despite trying to colour co-ordinate for differentiating toys, they always have to have the same stuff – or else.
Our dogs are connoisseurs when it comes to canine entertainment and the following three are the only ones that they have tried in the last 3 years that pass their rigorous testing procedures.
8) Chuck-it Balls
Part of the philosophy behind our loyalty to Chuck-it is that their products are expensive. Let me explain.
This simple fact means we are less inclined to give up on one that gets temporarily lost in a field – the hefty price tag on Chuck-it balls means we look after them. They are also incredibly robust (never had one pop, crack or brake), come in three breed appropriate sizes, and have a variety of types – Arbre’s favourite being the Ultra and Fleur’s the MaxGlow with the whistle – we use the medium size.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see us testing stuff like this regularly and giving our hints and tips on how to get the most out of them.
We also have a number of the other Chuck-it products – the wanger (ball launcher), the tug and the Squeaker – all living up to the high quality we have come to expect from the Chuck-it brand. All these things are usually the most expensive on the page when you search Amazon – there’s a reason – they’re just better.
You probably know that you shouldn’t give your dog tennis balls – if you’re new to that info (I know – it shocked me the first time I heard it if I’m honest) have a look at the various articles online from reputable sources.
9 ) Roots Chews
Made from tree roots, these have been a staple in our house since our dogs first came home with us. There were early signs that they had incredible jaw strength for their size (mountain genetics) so we needed something for them to chew that didn’t cause me constant anxiety – antlers make me fearful of shards coming off and coffee roots honestly don’t stand a chance against our mega-munchers. We buy these roots from Antos – we get the biggest ones available and saw them in half which is the most economical way of buying them for our two – Plus this overcomes the sibling rivalry which would no doubt occur if they come from two different trees! Ours last years… yes years.
10) The Goughnut
The undisputed king of chew toys is the Goughnut. Purchased first at Crufts in March 2022, it’s fair to say I was extremely sceptical about these so-called indestructible toys. I was wrong – they put their money where their mouth is with a money back guarantee – and neither of the ‘Sticks’ we purchased our ‘aggressive chewers’ has a mark on them. I almost don’t believe it myself. The only downside of these toys is that initially, they honk a bit but that fades over time.
They come in a variety of ‘strengths’ and a few different shapes – despite their very high price, are well worth the investment in our book.
We’re always on the look out for new toys, gadgets and gear for our dogs – whether that’s daily lifesavers, things for travelling or training tools – if you have any recommendations for us we’re always keen to test things out! Please email me at Hannah@BritishDogFields.com with your suggestions!