Holiday Gift Ideas for Dog Parents

The gift-giving season is upon us, so it’s an ideal time to think about those dog parents who, while they themselves might have everything, are always excited to receive gifts mindful of their furry family members.

Speaking as both a trainer and dog mom, my recommendations for pawfect holiday gifts for the pet lovers in your life (and their pets) would include:

  • Their Own “Place” — Practicing good ‘petiquette’ includes a dedicated travel mat (or bed), in other words, something a dog can lie down on. It’s a simple way to keep things clear and consistent for dogs on the go! I would use something like this for dogs sitting under tables at restaurants or at someone else’s home for instance. The pup knows where to target their body and to lie down. He or she will also have protection from a surface that might be dirty, hot, cold, or wet. Plus, it’s a great way for pet guardians to convey to their hosts that they respect the host’s home and appreciate their hospitality. When selecting a travel mat as a gift, you’ll want to make sure that the item is comfortable for the dog, has a nonslip backing, and is easy to clean.
  • A “To-Go” Carrier – Whether cruising the trails, riding bikes, or taking an urban hike in the big city, sometimes it’s more convenient for people to carry their dogs. But, it can get tiring and cumbersome. A front or back-pack style carry pouch can be helpful, and comfortable for dogs, provided the dogs are the right size. (We use one all the time and our dog Ringo tends to fall asleep he’s so comfortable.)
  • A Treat Pouch – Pet parents enjoy carrying treats for their dogs but then shove the scrumptious morsels into their pockets — what a mess! Nowadays, there are many stylish and unassuming treat pouch options. I’ve also noticed that the fanny sack is back in style, which can accommodate a generous amount of dog treats too.
  • A Water Vessel – A collapsible water container is great for people who travel with their dogs. Water itself can be easy to find but some dogs are choosy when it comes to drinking vessels. Having a collapsible water bowl can ensure Fido is hydrated, and feels the comfort of home.
  • Interactive Dog Toys– Find out what favorite toys or activities the dog in question enjoys. Remember,  enrichment activities for dogs can mean a delightful pawliday season for everyone! Help dogs make good choices by providing good choices to choose from. Toys and activities that keep pups engaged with their environments can help manage behaviors and harness an inquisitive canine’s energy in productive – and fun – ways.
  • An Offer to Help Out – If you’re visiting, engage with the dog (but only with the dog’s and guardian’s consent). And you can even offer to help train by, for example, only interacting with Fluffy when there are four paws politely stuck to the floor, if that is a greeting behavior the pet parent would like to reinforce. Consistency in dog training is critical, so you’d be surprised what a gift your cooperation is!
  • A Dog-centric Donation – Still feeling lost as to how to show appreciation towards your dog-parent friends? Many organizations, such as Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SBCSAR), have their ‘wish lists’ posted on their websites. You can also check local rescues and shelters to find out what their most pressing needs are. Is it money? Supplies? Your time? When in doubt, contact them and ask them to recommend a meaningful contribution in recognition of a friend, coworker, or family member.
  • Books – If the pet lovers in your life are book and media lovers too, be sure to check out Dogwise, a website that provides books, e-books, DVDs, CDs, MP3s, and streaming video on a variety of topics related to the field of animal behavior. It’s a treasure trove of gift ideas for devoted pet guardians! Want to stay local? A Google search will bring up a variety of stores featuring new and used books including Chaucer’s Books, The Book Den, The Mesa Bookstore, Lost Horizon Bookstore, and more!

As you make your list and check it twice, are you forgetting anyone? Perhaps you might be looking for resources for your new puppy, or your current long-time BFF (Best Fur Friend)? Go ahead – ‘treat’ yourself – you deserve it!

Cheers and woofs to you and your inquisitive canines for a positively magical holiday season!

The Inquisitive Canine was founded by Santa Barbara certified canine behavior consultant and certified professional dog trainer Joan Hunter Mayer. Joan and her team are devoted to offering humane, pawsitive, practical solutions that work for the challenges dogs and their humans face in everyday life. Joan offers coaching both in-person and online. If you are feeling inquisitive and have dog training questions, we invite you to contact The Inquisitive Canine for A Pawsitive Approach for Positive Results ™.


Written by Joan the Dog Coach

Joan Hunter Mayer is a certified canine behavior consultant and certified professional dog trainer who founded "The Inquisitive Canine." More information can be found at

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