gifts they might actually want

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

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Few things are more rewarding than owning a four-legged friend, but finding a helpful, unique, or simply amusing gift for a fellow dog lover is definitely up there. As one of the Strategist’s resident pet experts, I’ve spent countless hours interviewing veterinarians and testing tons of toys, treats, and grooming supplies with my Great Dane and Australian Shepherd mix (who like to express their approval with a woof or the odd howl). Thanks to their feedback and the constantly updated Rolodex of presents in my brain, I’ve put together the following roundup of the best gifts for dog owners.

Below, you’ll find 29 gift ideas for canines of every size and breed — and for every type of parent. Many of the following products have been culled from our archive, while others are gifts I’ve received — and some are just too pleasing to leave off this list, like an ergonomic device for holding bully sticks and an actually nice-looking, hands-free tool for holding poop bags.

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An outdoorsy dog owner will appreciate the length and customizability of this leash from Oakland-based brand High Tail Hikes. Made of woven polyester webbing with a soft PVC coating, its auto-locking carabiner will allow their pet to roam more freely while maintaining an ultrasecure connection.

This soft puzzle tree will keep any dog occupied (mine included) for hours because of its squirrel-filled trunk that mimics a game of hide-and-seek. It’s available in various sizes — the largest includes six squeaky squirrels.

When he’s not playing with the plush toy above, my Great Dane enjoys flinging these replacement squirrels around. We basically have a standing order of this three-pack for when he inevitably pulls out the squeakers, which would make a useful (and affordable) gift for the owner of any chew-happy dog.

This dog bed from Saatva, the maker of our best-performing mattress, is made with responsive microcoils, like the ones humans sleep on, so it’s an excellent option for older pups or those with mobility issues. It’s available in three textures, including bouclé and linen, plus three sizes to support animals up to 120 pounds.

I’m a big fan of Wild One’s poop bags and the accompanying dispenser. The plant-based material is extra-thick, and I’ve never had any issues with leakage; plus, the holder has an elastic that can be looped onto a leash or my tote-bag handle for quick access.

The Dooloop
$18 for 2
$18 for 2

Owners of large- or giant-breed dogs will appreciate this hands-free tool designed to hold one or multiple waste bags (a.k.a. a lot of poop). It’s also a gift that gives back: When you purchase a Dooloop through the brand’s site, 20 percent of the profit will be donated to the NAACP.

Speaking of hands-free, this leash has an adjustable slider so I can wear it three different ways: around my shoulder, waist, or wrist. The entire rope also has reflective detailing that provides extra visibility when I’m taking one of my pups for a bathroom break before bedtime.

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

These dog bowls won’t throw off your giftee’s highly curated aesthetic when they’re nice-looking enough for human use. Available in two sizes, the speckled dishes are made by the female artisans behind Brooklyn-based ceramics studio Franca.

Keep their house fur free with this easy-to-use brush that strips away dander and removes knots or mats hidden beneath a dog’s coat. It’s a top tool at grooming centers because it has flexible rubber bristles that feel like a soothing massage when combed through a pup’s hair.

Hide your dog’s favorite treats in the compartments of this food puzzle, then let them sniff and slide the blocks to uncover delicious tidbits. It’s essentially the canine equivalent of the “New York Times crossword puzzle,” says Lauren Camerini, a dog trainer and the founder of the Peaceful Dog.

For active owner-and-pup duos, I recommend this bottle that dispenses water into a bowl-shaped top that functions like a portable drinking fountain for your dog. I use one with my Aussie mix because it can be carried on hikes or down long trails where clean water isn’t readily available.

Embark Dog DNA Test

After adopting my rescue Shea, I purchased a DNA test to find out her exact breed mix and better understand her behaviors — and years later, I still think it’s the perfect gift for any pet parent in a similar boat. With one simple cheek swab, Embark will screen your dog for more than 350 breeds using research-grade data developed with Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

These tiny Wellington boots would make a great gift for a furry recipient who’s already comfortable wearing shoes — and their owner, who can skip the post-walk chase-and-wipe-down routine. The slip-on footwear is available in six colors, plus the price includes a set of four.


Another hilarious accessory: this comical mop top that Molly Shannon calls her Chihuahua’s “I hate Mondays” wig.

This wobbly device can be filled with more than a cup of kibble and used as an interactive slow feeder for added mental enrichment at mealtime. My Aussie mix enjoys knocking it around with her paws or snout to release a few chunks of food; however, I recommend supervising your dog to make sure they’re going after the dispensed rewards rather than just gnawing on the exterior like it’s a chew toy.

This silicone Apple AirTag holder, a gift idea courtesy of social-media consultant and dog owner Rachel Karten, will allow your recipient to keep track of their pup using the Find My app. It lies flush when attached to a collar, so it’s less likely to detach during playtime. (Awoo also sells a matching harness and leash for those looking for fully monochrome kits.)

Another giftable collar attachment is Mejuri’s 24-karat gold-plated charm that can be engraved with a dog’s name and your phone number. Rachel Zoe customized one for her toy Maltipoo and says it’s a super-durable (and stylish) pet accessory.

A gift idea that’s more for an owner than their four-legged friend is this delightful set of note cards and envelopes from Mr. Boddington’s Studio. The print is beloved by Elisabeth Weiss, a dog trainer and the owner of Dog Relations NYC, who describes it as “a bit old-world but in a friendly and sort of British humor style.”

Featuring the same cheery illustration as the above cards, this composition notebook contains 192 wide-ruled pages for jotting down notes or drafting their War and Peace–length dog-sitter plan the next time they’re (reluctantly) out of town.

If their carrier has seen better days, upgrade them to this tote-style option, from New York City–based brand Just Fred, which has a padded window that will allow their pup to see what’s happening outside. Available in two sizes to fit animals up to 35 pounds, it offers the highest weight capacity of any pick in our roundup of the best dog carriers.

Furbo Dog Camera

For owners who don’t work from home, this 360-degree camera will allow them to interact with their pup by tossing treats or reassuring them they’re such a good dog with the real-time two-way audio. Along with its rotating view for full-room monitoring, the Furbo can detect barking and send alerts straight to your smartphone for peace of mind.

This ingenious device is a win-win for both owner and pet because it’s a controlled way to give Fido his favorite chew. It tightly secures a bully stick, preventing overeager dogs from choking on the last bit of the treat.

And if you’d like to complete the gift idea above, we recommend adding these fully digestible and USA-made bully sticks. Endorsed by multiple experts, these are our top-rated chew for puppies (and for non-puppies) because they’re rich in nutrients but softer on a pet’s teeth than bones or antlers.

Oreos might be a no-no for dogs, but they can safely enjoy these all-natural Paw-reos from Maison de Pawz, a Parisian-inspired pâwtisserie in New York City. Freshly baked to order, the five-pack only contains five ingredients, including organic buckwheat flour, unsweetened carob powder, and coconut milk.

If nail trims don’t faze their dog, the pooch is ready for a paw-dicure (sorry — we couldn’t resist). This water-based, nontoxic polish pen from Warren London dries in under a minute and is available in 13 shades for more than just French tips.

This ultradurable, veterinarian-approved toy can be filled with peanut butter or a few treats to distract a mouthy puppy from chewing on the corner of your Mario Bellini. I still use the one I bought years ago to entertain my adult dogs while I’m running errands. Pro tip: Try stuffing the Kong using this squeezable, mess-free pouch.

What furry friend could turn down a monthly subscription box filled with treats, plush squeakers, and other surprises for playtime? BarkBox also offers a super-chewer option for dogs that play harder and need extra-tough toys.

Give the gift of oral health with the toothbrush-shaped treats favored by three Strategist writers — myself included — to combat bad breath in each of our dogs. Author Ottessa Moshfegh is another fan, saying her four pups are “obsessed with” these chews and come running whenever she grabs the box from the shelf.

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The Best Gifts for Dog Owners, According to Dog Lovers