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Holiday Gifts for Dogs and Dog Owners

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

If you are looking for the perfect gift for a dog or dog owner on your holiday gift list, check out these recommendations from some fabulous Silicon Valley trainers and pet care providers!

Gift Certificates, Books, and Mental Stimulation Toys

1) The best gift you get your dog, or your favorite dog-lover, is the gift of understanding. A professional dog trainer can help you understand your dog’s behavior, and help your dog understand what you expect for good behavior as well! Even if your dog is “99% angel”, dog training can help smooth out those edges and help your dog become even better, easier to live with, and have a happier, less-stressed life. Towards that end, I recommend giving a gift certificate for dog training sessions, either with a respected, humane/positive training class, or with an experienced local dog trainer. 

2) I feel that every dog owner should read Karen Pryor’s book, “Don’t Shoot The Dog”. Once you get past the title, you’ll find an easy-to-digest but thorough explanation of the science of behavior modification. While this book was actually written for parents of young children to help them with childrearing, many of the examples are from dog training (as well dolphins, ponies and more), and it can help any pet owner figure out a way to approach behavior change. This book has become the animal trainer’s “bible” for a reason - it’s both thorough, and useful; accurate, yet easy to read. 

3) Many of the dogs that I see professionally are both fast eaters, and a little bit bored, stressed, or under-stimulated. Any time I hear of a dog who gulps down their food, my thought immediately goes to how easy it would be to slow the dog down while giving the dog something to do with his time. My favorite is to stuff wet food into Kong toys, and freeze them; but a lot of people are still feeding their dogs with kibble, and they want a method that’s fast and immediate.

Both the Kong Wobbler and Kibble Nibble are easy to fill, and easy to clean, and seem to be the right level of challenge for many dogs. If you’re not going to use your dog’s meals for training, do the next best thing and provide your dog some environmental enrichment through one of these convenient food-dispensing toys. 

Clicker and Treat Pouch

My favorite gift for dog people this season is a clicker & treat pouch.

I love this gift because it gives people effective and humane tools to work with their dogs and opens the door to many training options. And of course, it's great for dogs because learning enriches their lives! 


I enjoy using Toppls for both mealtime and playtime. Toppls are also handy for "mom is leaving" treats. For my dog Mindy, I use a large and small toppl and interlock them to each other with a treat inside like peanut butter, pumpkin puree, kibble, treats, you get the idea. Mindy usually opens it up at some point to get inside, otherwise, there's a lot of licking involved thanks to the handy side hole. They are also great to use in summer for freezing mushy or liquid treats. You can get creative! And they are very easy to clean.

A word of caution: super chewers should not be left alone with the Zogoflex line of toys; I have watched a few of my super chewers demolish them. Their zogoflex line is great for light to moderate chewers.

K9 Natural Grain-Free Air Dried Dog Treat Protein Bites

When Kohl was still around, he had a ton of allergies, which sometimes made finding great training treats a chore. Luckily, he could eat lamb and he LOVED these Lamb Lung treats! They were my go-to training treat because they are very versatile, easy to digest, and dogs go crazy over them! Crush them up into tiny pieces and mix in with other lower value treats to create a treat dust "marinade" or cram bigger chunks in Kongs for a more challenging unpacking. Of course, you can just break them up into small bite, pack them into your bait bag, and you're ready to get training! If you have a picky dog or one who needs limited ingredient treats, you've got to try these!


Tracey Lee Davis is a former CPDT-KA, a graduate with honors of the Academy for Dog Trainers, and a Certified Kennel Operator. For close to a decade, she ran one of the most well-respected dog daycares in the Silicon Valley. She is passionate about helping dogs and their humans lead happy and fun lives together.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you!

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