Category Archives: review

Top 5 Reasons I Groom My Dog At Home

I used to go to the big box groomer every six weeks to have Dexter washed, cut, and nails clipped, but after some research online, watching some videos, and buying some inexpensive things from Amazon, I was able to successfully start grooming him at home.

Home grooming isn’t “hard” but it does require some preparation and precision. When I first started, I was glad that he didn’t have to go to school like a child, or his friends would make fun of him. It was bad. Over the last year that I have been doing this, my technique has improved, I am able to follow the same grooming process, and the result is a dog who is presentable in public.

Getting to the place where I decided to start grooming my shih tzu at home wasn’t quick. At first I didn’t think I could. I thought that dog grooming was best left up to the people at the pet store. After a while, though, I realized that they didn’t have any fancy equipment that I couldn’t build or buy, and the only thing I needed to invest was time rather than money.

Top Five Reasons I Chose to Groom My Dog At Home Are:

  1. Reduces Stress On My Dog
  2. Be In Control of the Process
  3. Reduced Investment of Time for Me
  4. Cost
  5. Learning A New Skill

Reducing Stress on On My Dog – The biggest motivator for me to look into grooming at home was the stress I could see in Dexter when he returned home. He would run around the house to get caught up on all the smells, then he would pass out from exhaustion. He is a shih-tzu/terrier mix; a high-energy alert dog. He needs to know about every noise that happens, and has big enough burst of energy to continually bark or chase whatever he alerts to, real or imagined. I knew that spending most of a day at the grooming salon was keeping him on edge the entire time. There were so many dogs, people, and sounds that he couldn’t relax.

Be In Control of the Process – While I trust the grooming salon and the pet store completely, my dog is almost like a child to me. He is a member of the family and I want to ensure that I do the best I can to place him in situations where he will be well taken care of. I was fully confident leaving him with them, and had done so for several years, but even then you hear of stories on the news where something happens to a dog in their care. The rational part of my brain says that these stories are the exception, and there are thousands of successful grooming sessions for every one mistake, but I knew that I could eliminate even that small chance by taking over this responsibility.

Also, I can control the how he looks at the end. Rather than describing the look I want to the groomer then leaving it to them, then potentially having to stay later to have them fix any issues, By doing it myself I could cut his fur to the length I desired the first time. If his tail wasn’t coming out correctly, or his face was too long, I could fix it on the spot as I went. I could control which shampoo was used, I could control the length of the grooming session, I could control the environment, I could control the final look. I wouldn’t have a problem going back to a groomer, but I also like being able to pick and decide each step of the way as well.

Reducing My Investment of Time – The pet store grooming salon is about a 15 minute drive from my house. Not only would I have to drive there and back once to get Dexter to them, but also there and back again to pick him up. Give the amount of time it takes for them to complete the wash & groom process, and the comparative amount of time it takes me to do errands in that same area, it involved a lot of driving. Literally, I would spend an hour of the day just driving to and from the groomer. On top of that, I would be tied to my phone waiting for their call that he was ready. He could be ready at 4pm, he could be ready at 6pm depending on a lot of factors (drop off time, the number of other dogs, etc…). I might be in the middle of a project at that time. I could be just not in the mood to go back out for him; the timing was just unpredictable. In the time it took me to drive to drop him off and pick him up, plus the uncertainty of when he would be done, I would rather schedule my own time and invest an hour to an hour and a half to do it myself.

Cost – Cost is certainly a factor in any decision. Looking at prices around me, some of the national chains pricing ranges from $29 – $131 for a bath and cut. Exact pricing depends on the size and breed, but even a small, easy to groom dog requiring grooming every 6 weeks would need eight sessions per year at $30, so the yearly cost would be $240. I will list below what I use. Most of them are one-time expenses, and they add up to less that $250, so there is an immediate savings. Granted, some of what you are paying for is the training and experience the groomers have, but with enough practice I feel confident that grooming your dog of any breed at home is attainable.

Learning a New Skill – Last, I am a curious person by nature. I like to know how things work and I like to build my skill level wherever possible. Taking up the challenge to learn about dog grooming was something that fascinated me, and that I took with and ran. Do I feel like I would want to do this for other people’s dogs? No. Would I ever consider leaving my job and doing this full-time? No. What I do have, though, is the satisfaction of not knowing anything about this, and becoming okay at it. And continually improving!

Below I will list the supplies I use when grooming my dog at home. Following that I will link to some videos from Wahl that demonstrate how you can groom many dog breeds yourself.

Bath:
FreshWave Dog Shampoo
AquaPaw – hand-held pet shower
Soggy Doggy Towel
Andis hair dryer (use the Low setting)

Grooming:
My DIY Grooming Table
Scissor set from Amazon
Wahl Pro-Series Pet Clippers – Read my review here

(The Wahl set comes with a pair of scissors and a plastic comb, but both are of okay quality. I opted to buy a separate set of scissors because it included stainless steel scissors, and a stainless steel comb)

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Dexter with his FreshWave shampoo and the AquaPaw connected to the shower.

These videos from Wahl are clearly from decades past, but the techniques they demonstrate are time-tested.

 

This is the video the designer of the AquaPaw produced when it was first introduced to demonstrate its use.

Dog Toys (And More!) Made In The USA

Last article featured mostly dog treats and food Made In America, but this time In this we look at some durable toys and durable products that your dog will love.

Not only will these products improve the lives of your puppy, but when you buy American, you support our domestic economy. Keeping money here helps create and maintain jobs in our communities. It helps fund schools and has a ripple effect because the money you spend to buy the product is spent again in a community close to home; by the men and women building and creating the things your dog loves. Not only will these products give your dog a warm heart, but yours too!

Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff BallsThese ultra-durable balls are made of non-toxic, 100% recyclable materials right here in the USA. The company even offers a guarantee if your dog destroys it. I can say that after several years of owning one of these, that it takes a lot of abuse and still looks brand new. It has an incredible bounce to it too, so it will keep your pup really engaged while playing. Check out some of their holiday themed balls as well!

American Mutt – American Mutt has a wide assortment of products all Made in America. They are one of the few companies I have seen that makes a dog bed 100% in the USA. Check out their CoreBlu bed which is Waterproof, Fungal-proof, and has an incredible 5 Year Warranty! With that commitment, you know the company and employees put care and attention into what they make. There are several styles of bed to choose from, including a bolster bed that is raised off the floor!

SaltSox – Protect your pups paws from summer heat, dirty sidewalks, hot sand and much more. The built-in heat barrier reflects radiant surface heat and the breathable mesh fabric allows for natural cooling. Perfect for when the temperatures soar! Check out their versions for temperatures both hot (LavaSox) and cold (SaltSox). Both varieties are made in Chicago, IL! The bottom of the sock even has a grippy sole to improve traction indoors and out. This is the perfect gift for dog lovers who live in cities, or the suburbs where regular walking on pavement and snow can cause injury.

AquaComb – This innovative tool is made in Sarasota, Florida. It connects to a hose (garden or otherwise) and the patent-pending fingers direct water beneath even the thickest of dog coats to help deep clean dirt and dander. The fingers come in two lengths for short and longer coats, so there is one that is perfect for your pet. It comes in four models as well, made specifically for dogs, made for grooming horses, and models for cleaning pool and spa filters. This product is great for 4-H clubs and others who spend lots of time washing dogs, grooming horses or ponies.

Top Subscription Services For Dogs

Subscription boxes are not just for humans. You can also get monthly deliveries of treats and toys for your furry friends. One of the best-known boxes of this type is BarkBox, which contains dog chews, treats, and dog toys. BarkBox is one of the most famous and well-known dog subscription box around. Each month, they deliver four to five toys, treats and, occasionally, hygiene products or bonus items for dog owners and their pets.

Each bark box contains about four or five items, which are not similar from month to month. When you register, you enter your puppy’s weight to get items of the right size for your pup, and if there is an item that your dog does not like, you can replace it for free. They also have options for adding additional toys, selecting an option for toys for heavy chewers, and gifting boxes if you want to treat another special dog!

If you are thinking of the best way to spoil your furry friend with an awesome gift and treats bundle, think of a subscription service to keep the gifts coming month after month! Before making a choice, check out the following benefits of having subscriptions services.

For most people, the great advantage of subscription boxes is the fun factor. Dog owners who talked about why they choose subscription boxes say they enjoy the suspense of looking forward to each month’s box, and speculating what it will contain. Also waiting for that box each month without knowing what it is, creates an adrenaline rush, kind of like getting a birthday gift every month.

Convenience: Having the items delivered consistently every month can save you shopping time. For example, due to my busy schedule, I make use of subscription service to get my dog food and other pet grooming items on the monthly schedule. That way, I don’t have to take time out of my tight schedule for running around town from store to store.

Custom Picked Items: With a lot of subscription boxes, the items you receive each month are chosen specifically for your dog, according to your dog particular needs and preferences. This can be major benefits for dog owners who have difficulty finding what they like in stores or who just don’t enjoy shopping. For many owners knowing the items were chosen just for them increases the excitement of opening a new box. And getting these select goodies makes people’s feel unique and also boosts their self-esteem.

Potential Savings: Having treats shipped to you in a subscription box is often cheaper than buying each of these items individually. Some subscription services offer a 5% discount on all items sent from them. Other subscription services provide even greater savings.

Quality Products: For example, according to BarkBox, all boxes are free of wheat, corn, and soybeans, and they also makes special allergy-friendly canine boxes for pooches who are allergic to chicken, beef, and turkey. All of BarkBox’s treats are Made in the USA!

For more information, check out the links to some great subscription services below!

BarkBox – Check out RetailMeNot for current BarkBox savings codes

Pooch Perks – Treats Made in the USA with fun-themed toys!

Big Paw Treat Club – Nearly a pound of freshly baked treats with Free Shipping! 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month subscriptions available; or order individually by the bag. Use code BIGPAW15 for 15% off your order!

PawPack – by TheGiftBox.com – From their website: “Each month, we deliver the highest quality, premium selections of all natural treats and chews made with real meat and wholesome ingredients, along with irresistible tough, long lasting toys for those pups that love to chew!”

BullyMake – BullyMake is specifically designed for dogs who are power chewers. In fact, BullyMake offers a 14-day guarantee. If you dog destroys a toy they send within 14 days of receiving it, they will replace it! Buy one box at a time, or a subscription of up to 12 months to keep the toys arriving!

 

Best Movies Featuring Dogs

Recently Variety a slideshow titled “The Best Movie Dogs of All Time“. It was prompted by the release of the movie “Dog Days” and features twenty of the best appearances by dogs in movies through the years.

I will save you a ton of clicking and put the top 10 here, but following that I will list a few recent movies that I feel should have made the cut.

10. Buddy in “Air Bud” (1997)
9. Beethoven (1992)
8. Arthur from “Beginners” (2010)
7. The Beast in “The Sandlot” (1993)
6. Old Yeller (1957)
5. Flealick from “Babe: Pig In The City” (1998)
4. Marley in “Marley and Me” (2008)
3. Toto in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
2. Lassie in “Lassie Come Home” (1943)
1. “Benji” (1974)

I would like to add a few movies to this list to make it a little more current.

Bailey (Bailey, Bailey) from A Dogs Purpose (2017). While this wasn’t reviewed well by the Rotten Tomatoes critics, it definitely tugged at the heartstrings of the audience. In parts it was a hard movie to watch as it deals with the passing of “Bailey” several times as he comes back in a new incarnation, but because it was handled in a tasteful way, we were able to connect to the main storyline. Even though Bailey is played by several dogs, the ‘spirit of Bailey’ narrates the movie and brings us along on this journey.

Max from Max (2015) is another recent movie where the dog takes center stage. IMDB describes the movie as “A Malinois dog that helped American Marines in Afghanistan returns to the United States and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.” Not only did it resonate with audiences, but provided the foundation for a sequel.

Because of the bond humans have with dogs in real life, it is no surprise that we can connect with canine-led stories in the movies. While a lot of movies are based on conjecture (us creating a story based on what we want to see rather than what dogs actually may be thinking or doing), they are inspirational and bring out the hope in all of us.

One agency that certifies that “No Animals Were Harmed” in the filming of these movies is the American Human Association, through their Humane Hollywood initiative. When you see their logo and the “No Animals Were Harmed” tagline in the credits of the movie you just enjoyed, you can know that the animals shown in the movie were treated fairly and safely during their time on and off set.

Easy Options For Fresh Dog Treats

I like to spoil my dogs with homemade dog treats from time to time. The ability to choose, and know, what ingredients go in to what they are eating puts my mind at ease. Losing all the additives and preservatives makes me feel like I am in taking responsibility for my dogs health.

The kitchen isn’t a strange place to me, and I have some baking skills, so whipping up a batch of treats in an afternoon is fun and relaxing, although with so many things on the ‘To Do” list, finding time can be difficult.

One of my favorite discoveries in the last few months has been Big Paw Treat Club. I pay full price for the shipments I receive. They are a dog treat subscription service which sends out one package of freshly made homemade dog treats right to your door each month. You can also order individual bags without a subscription. This ‘Treat Of The Month Club” ensures your pantry is always stocked!

Having the option to either bake my own – based on recipes I find online, or have them shipped to my door is a great option for when I feel like being adventurous in the kitchen, and the times that I’m not!

The most recent shipment was for Beef Barkers which are Grain Free, made with tapioca flour, and have flax and parsley. My dogs absolutely devoured these! I was able to find this recipe online for a similar treat from Kelly at her Primally Inspired blog.

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Each shipment from the treat club comes packaged nicely and with care. I know that if even half the thought that went into the packaging and presentation goes into the baking of the treats, that they will be absolutely delicious.

Do you like to bake your own treats? Or do you prefer to have them made for you?

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AquaPaw, Soggy Doggy Towel & Fresh Wave Make For Easy Bath Time

Bathing dogs has never been fun. Two challenges are the mess that is created with water, and cleaning the entire dog. Using a combination of the AquaPaw and Soggy Doggy Towel makes for a super-easy bath time. Fresh Wave shampoo makes a wonderful all-natural ‘Made In The USA’ pet shampoo which leaves them with a shiny coat and subtle natural smell.

AquaPaw was started as a project on Kickstarter and they ave shipped their initial production run. I purchased mine full-price and just received it yesterday. I liked the idea of being in control of the water, and I think the massaging ‘fingers’ on the device make rinsing and lathering in dense fur very easy.

The unit comes shipped in this clamshell packaging that is heat-sealed in six place. I used scissors to clip away the sealed portions, and was able to easily open it.

For some background, the AquaPaw straps around the palm of your hand like a glove, and has a shower head type of opening embedded in the glove with a valve, so you can push the valve to start the shower of water – all with one hand.

The contents of the package include, the AquaPaw handheld unit, a shower head extension, a quick-connect coupler, and some plumbers tape.

I was impressed by the quality of the construction. Clearly, a lot of effort had gone into the design of the unit. The connections seemed sturdy, and – while the actual open/close valve is buried in the unit – it sounded and felt sturdy as I tested it before installation.

Installation was very easy and required only one tool, a set of pliers, to loosen and re-tighten the shower head. Everything else you need is included in the package. From start-to-finish, the installation took 5 minutes, if I’m being generous. The illustrated directions were easy to follow and I was successful the first attempt. The thread of the plumbing that my shower head attaches to is slightly askew from the threading on the AquaPaw so the quick-connect coupler comes out the top of the extension, rather than below it. It is more of an aesthetic thing for me, and is completely outside the control of the designers, but it is a subtle observation.

The instructions also show you how to connect it to a garden hose if you desire.

I don’t need a high-pressure stream of water, so it turned the water supply to about 50%, checked the temperature, and activated the shower lever. The extension has a slider to indicate if the water should go to the AquaPaw unit, or the shower head. Sliding the indicator to expose the blue end causes the water to go to the hand unit, while exposing the black end sends the water to the shower.

The extension is plastic and easy to use; it feels sturdy. It does lower the shower head a bit, but not by much.

 

Overall, this product is well-designed, well-constructed, and makes easy work of the worst parts of bathing a dog.

When the wash and rinse is done, the Soggy Doggy Towel takes over and using this innovative pocketed chenille towel makes quick work of drying your pooch. Even before Dexter was out of the tub today, I could see his coat was already drying. Ordinarily I would bring out the hair dryer and finish drying him that way, but I brought him outside in the sun, finished up with the towel, and he was quickly dried.

My favorite shampoo for dogs is Fresh Wave. It has a nice, natural scent, and is safe for their coat. It isn’t a gel, more of a thick liquid (like the consistency of cough syrup), and doesn’t get too sudsy. I didn’t need to use a lot of shampoo to get Dexter clean, and having a lower amount of lather made it easy to control around his face.

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The Soggy Doggy Towel Makes Bath Time A Breeze

First of all, you are probably wondering, what is the Soggy Doggy towel? It is essentially a 33″ by 14″ shammy made from chenille.

The two unique attributes of this towel are it’s shape and it’s construction.

An overview of the Soggy Doggy Towel showing hand pockets

An overview of the Soggy Doggy Towel showing hand pockets

The Soggy Doggy towel features two hand pockets to make drying easy

The Soggy Doggy towel features two hand pockets to make drying easy

The Soggy Doggy towel has built-in pockets on either end for your hands. This allows you to control the towel more accurately. I was able to guide the towel down Dexter’s legs and reach all the way under his belly. This allows the towel to absorb more water than a standard bath towel.

The second interesting feature are the hundreds of little nubs that increase the surface area of the towel which allows it to absorb more water. The packaging claims it can “hold up to 7 times it’s weight in water”. After using this towel, I believe that!

Opening the Soggy Doggy Towel

I ordered this towel from Amazon but they are available at several retailers. It arrives in two days. The packaging want amazing but it did the job; a plastic bag with a fold-over cardboard hang strip. It had all the use and care instructions printed on it.

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Information tag

I don’t have a dedicated pet sink or tub so my dogs get bathed in the bathtub. It’s a confined space which means I often get wet as they shake. The towel is light and easy to add to my collection of things.

I currently use Tropiclean to suds up, and a little plastic storage container to rinse. I have a five dollar hair dryer just for dog drying. The towel is a nice addition because it doesn’t mean I need to use a bath towel as well.

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A soggy doggy ready for his Soggy Doggy Towel

Dexter was just groomed so his fur isn’t that long. Typically he would have a for length of four inches but he was much shorter this bath. After the usual wet/lather/rinse routine, it was time to try out the towel.

It was very easy to use. My adult hands had lots of extra room in the pockets. As I mentioned earlier, the towel is easy to control as you move it over the dog. I would hold Dexter’s belly in with hand and rum my other hand down his opposite leg. The towel let me fully circle his leg which maximized drying.

I can’t speak for him, but I bet he enjoyed the massage of hundreds of little towel ‘fingers’.

Almost dry after a few rubs using the Soggy Doggy towel

The amount of water removed from this dog is amazing. While I mentioned he had fairly sorry hair this bath, even before he left the tub he had mostly dried. It took only there it four minutes with the hair dryer to finish the job and fluff him up!

When finished, I hung the towel to dry. I hang most of my clothes to dry (no sense using the drier when Mother Nature will do it for free, without the shrinking), and the towel doesn’t take up much space on the rack; less than a standard towel.

The washing and drying instructions are as follows:

Machine wash cold
Wash separately
Do not bleach
Dry low
Do not dry clean
Do not iron

This towel is great for baths, but here in the Northeast we get rain often, and snow in the winter and I have no doubt that this towel will be useful during those times as well.

Soggy Doggy also makes several variations of a doormat, a slop mat for under food bowls, big and fluffy beds, and a humorously titled “Slobber Swabber” which is essentially a shammy on a stick. Check them all out on the Soggy Doggy website: https://www.soggydoggydoormat.com