gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for Dog Owners, According to Groomers, Trainers, and Other Dog Owners

Photo: Lambert/Getty Images

There are two types of people in this world: dog lovers who are so in love with their four-legged friends that, on some deep emotional level, they understand Barbra Streisand’s impulse to clone her dog, and then there’s everyone else. If you fall into that latter category — or are even, God forbid, a cat person — it can be tricky to find a gift for the dog lover in your life that they’ll actually find useful. But even the most serious dog parents could probably use some help finding unique, fun dog gifts that go beyond the regular old treats, toys, and travel accessories.

That’s why we spoke with 21 dog trainers, groomers, and owners about the best dog gifts they’ve ever received and their go-to gift ideas for dog lovers. Below, 47 of their favorites that are sure to please pups of all sizes and persuasions (and the pup parents).

Dog toys and treats to give

$14

Sarah Fraser, co-founder of Instinct Dog Behavior and Training in New York, likes to give younger or adolescent dogs what’s called a flirt pole, which is “like a giant cat toy. For many dogs, it quickly becomes their favorite — a fantastic substitute for chasing real squirrels. Plus, it’s a great form of exercise that doesn’t require the owner to do much.” She likes this option from Outward Hound for small-to-medium dogs.

Fraser also likes this flirt pole from Squishy Face Studio for medium-to-large dogs.

If the pup you’re buying for likes playing fetch, try the Hol-ee Roller, which Strategist newsletter editor Mia Leimkuhler and her rescue mini-schnauzer mix, Reggie, swear by. She describes as “a hybrid bouncy ball and chew toy, with big holes that make it easy for smaller mouths to catch and grip and fling about. The rubber is durable but not inflexibly hard, so errant tosses aren’t a breaking hazard, and the ball’s squishiness absorbs its own noise and shock, which is nice news for your downstairs neighbor.” It also comes in a large size.

$6

“We call it his ‘bear octopus,’ and we hate it,” writes Alice Gregory of this multi-legged dog toy. “We’re not even sure where it came from, but Mickey, our toy poodle, likes it more than anything that is not a piece of outright garbage,” which is the best praise any dog parent can give for a dog toy.

Leimkuhler got this plush puzzle tree as a gift from a friend whose own dog was obsessed with it, and she says she would gift it to any of her dog-parent friends. The tree keeps her Reggie occupied for hours.

Kate Perry, dog trainer and author of Training for Both Ends of the Dog Leash, likes to give “practical items that help stimulate the dog’s mind and help owners have a better relationship with their dogs.” One of her favorite interactive treat toys for pups is the Busy Buddy Twist ’n Treat, which keeps dogs working for their food. “Great as a gift for new dog owners, and great for training a dog to work for their food,” she says.

Both Perry and Shelby Semel, a canine-behavior expert, trainer, and founder of Shelby Semel Dog Training, like the puzzle-type toys from Nina Ottosson. Perry calls them “Rubik’s Cubes for dogs.” With this one, you hide treats in the compartments, then your dog has to sniff and slide the pieces out of the way to get them.

Semel is particularly fond of Nina Ottosson’s Tornado: “It’s a great way to feed your dog slowly and keep them busy when you need them to self-occupy, and it’s good for mental stimulation! It’s easy to clean, not superexpensive, and entertaining to watch.”

If you want to give a dog a bone, Doug the Pug, who has over 3 million followers on Instagram, loves these antler chews: “I have one in every room in the house!”

If you’re not sure of exactly what type of toy or treat to give, Shirley Braha, who’s mom to Instagram-famous Marnie the Dog, recommends giving the gift of replenishing treats. “The first thing that comes to mind is a BarkBox subscription because I feel like dogs are always running out of treats,” she says, “and high-quality treats are weirdly expensive.”

Dog bowls to give

For dog parents who like to keep the mess to a minimum, Katie Sturino — founder of Megababe and the 12ish Style and dog momager to Muppet, Crumb, and Cheese — has a suggestion. “The best gift I have gotten myself is the Neater Feeder bowls. I have three dogs, and they spill half a bowl when they drink, so this has saved my floors.”

This slow-feed dog bowl helps dogs who eat their food entirely too fast. As writer Ashlea Halpern explains, “The unusual puzzle shape of these bowls forces gluttonous dogs to slow their roll.” Sophie, Halpern’s Chihuahua, “rarely gags when she uses it because she has to think about how to extract the food, as opposed to just blindly gobbling.” For more puzzle bowls, check out Strategist writer Karen Iorio Adelson’s expert-recommended roundup.

On hot summer days, the staff of dog boutique and groomer Releash NYC loves the clever design of this hybrid water bottle and bowl for active dogs. “Squeeze, and water fills the bowl for your pup to drink; release, and the remaining water returns to the bottle,” one worker explains — no need to waste water or have to carry extra bowls on hikes or outings to the beach.

These collapsible dog bowls, also recommended by Halpern, are helpful for a traveling pup. “We tuck them into our carry-on bags and keep one in the glove compartment of our car,” she says. “The durable silicone is lightweight, easy to clean, and won’t tip over in a moving car.”

Dog beds to give

From $110

“As Reggie gets older, I want him to have a more supportive bed,” explains Leimkuhler, which is why this memory-foam dog bed from Casper ranks high on her wish list. The Casper bed also took the top spot in our roundup of the best dog beds because it’s easy to clean and has a streamlined design that provides excellent orthopedic support for older dogs with achy joints. Casper’s dog bed comes in three sizes and three colors: blue, gray, and sand.

$166

Leimkuhler loves this bolster bed from Pendleton, which features the brand’s signature stripes and is sure to keep your dog cozy during colder months.

We love this shag number, which has over 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon and is perfect for little dogs who love to cuddle and burrow.

Dog grooming supplies to give

“Nail polish from Warren London is a great gift for someone who wants to do a quick-drying, easy paw-dicure on their pups,” says Jess Rona, a dog-grooming expert based in Los Angeles.

If doggy nail polish is too flashy, Rona has some recommendations for more straightforward dog-grooming gifts to keep your pet clean: “For a luxury shampoo and conditioner, I recommend the Mineral Red or argan shampoo and conditioner by Iv San Bernard.” According to the manufacturer’s website, Mineral Red is better for dogs with allergies or dry skin, while the Black Passion, which has argan oil and seaweed, is suitable for any coat type.

For professionally groomed dogs whose owners are looking for a way to keep their doggy’s ’do looking sharp between appointments, “the Atami H270 Vitamin Spray by Iv San Bernard is great for an in-between-grooming hydration spray,” Rona says.

This animal animal wash from Aesop is a great gift for making bath time more luxurious, according to Leimkuhler. “I bought it to use on Reggie. It lathers easily, rinses away easily, and he does smell really good,” she says. “He smells like a status dog.”

“Someone at my local dog park told me about Mushers after we were talking about how neither of our dogs will tolerate snow boots, which is bad because our neighborhood is way too aggressive with the salt on the sidewalk,” explains Leimkuhler. You massage a little of the wax-based cream onto the pads of your dog’s paws, and it acts as a sealant against ice, salt, sand, and even hot pavement. “It seems like a perfect little stocking stuffer.”

Dog clothes and accessories

Hanna Anderson Pet Johns
$11
$11

Our favorite purveyor of children’s onesies now makes onesies for your pooch, too. Hanna Anderson is known for its “quality and durability,” says Kate Jaffe, a trends expert at Rover. She adds that the brand sells a “huge variety of charming” options — many of which are available in matching human sets so your dog “can get in on the family fun.” The matching sets make these particularly giftable in our opinion.

Cool dog parents will surely love to receive this leather jacket recommended by Logan Mikhly, a co-founder of the off-leash dog café Boris & Horton, which will give their pups a dash of James Dean style. “We can’t keep it in stock,” Mikhly says, because the coat “looks good on many different body types” and is “very warm and comfortable.”