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Clever Things That Make Your Dog Behave So Much Better With Almost No Effort

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A French Bulldog napping with a snuggle puppy toy and a Labrador chewing on a wishbone-shaped chew t...

It’s no secret we love our dogs — maybe even more than our human best friends. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get frustrated with their behavior sometimes.

We’ve rounded up some of the best expert advice we’ve gotten over the years on the most clever toys and gadgets that can reduce your dog's anxiety and help them to stay calm and focused no matter the circumstance. From veterinarians to certified dog trainers and dog behavior specialists, we’ve talked to them all regarding the best kinds of products for your pup. You’ll even find a motion-activated interactive dog ball with automatic rolling that will keep your pet busy during Zoom meetings and WFH days.

Read on and learn about these fantastic expert tips that have stuck with us.

1

An Interactive Mat So Your Pet Earns Their Treats

According to Christie Catan, certified professional dog trainer and co-founder of the online dog training community Tails of Connection, searching for food with a snuffle mat will “not only help calm your dog down, but it will also tire them out from mental stimulation and encourage them to eat slower, too.”

The snuffle mat works to train your dog's smell and keep them occupied to avoid destructive behavior. Plus, the dual design allows the feeding mat to be folded into a bowl.

2

This Hands-Free Motion Activated Rolling Ball Toys for Puppy

Many pet owners can likely relate to Julie Burgess, certified veterinary technician and dog trainer for Senior Tail Waggers, who notes that “sometimes you can’t stop what you’re doing (during a phone call, or live video meeting) and entertain your dog or puppy who wants all the attention.” This motion-activated interactive dog ball with automatic rolling keeps dogs busy when you’re not available. Plus, the included battery is rechargeable and holds power for a day’s worth of play.

3

This Indoor Safe Fetch Toy That Is Soft To Protect Any Surfaces

Burgess also suggests this soft toy, partially because it protects the surfaces of your home even when you’ve got an energetic pup on your hands. It comes highly rated with over 17,000 five-star reviews. The plush design is lightweight and durable, and it comes in bright colors to help puppies stay engaged.

4

These Freeze Dried Training Treats

While treats are always good to have around, what type do dog professionals choose? For Burgess, these freeze-dried dog treats from Stewart fit the bill. "I taught my dogs to come reliably even with numerous distractions by using these treats,” she told Bustle. Available in either a tub or pouch, they’re grain free, made in the United States, and crafted from pure beef liver.

5

This Popular Wishbone-Shaped Chew Toy That Comes In Multiple Sizes

Flavored with real bacon, chicken, or peanuts, this durable chew bone is made for aggressive chewers. It’s curved for a paw-friendly grip is tougher than real bones and lasts for weeks. Jennifer Blessing, a certified service dog training instructor, also notes that it’s “long-lasting and dog-adored" — plus, it’s backed by over 74,000 five-star ratings from fellow shoppers.

6

This Scentwork Training Game That Will Help Your Dog Stay Calm

Diana Ludwiczak, certified dog trainer and master K9 scent detection trainer with Dr. Sniff’s and Wolfie’s Place, once told Mic that she recommends nose work as a game for dogs, which can keep your dogs calm and happier. “Dogs not only need exercise but they also need mental stimulation,” said Ludwiczak. “Allowing your dog to use their nose to sniff out essential oils will provide you and your dog an indoor game to play.” This nosework training program comes with five scented pouches and different challenges that have been shown to improve confidence and reduce anxiety.

7

A Set of Clickers That Make It Easy to Reward During Training

These simple clickers are a must-have when it comes to pet training. It instantly provides a treat after a command is accomplished. Ludwiczak, who also works with bed bug-sniffing dogs, uses them to train for the scent. “The clicker is important for the initial imprinting of the odor,” says Ludwiczak. “It’s also important to find a high-value reward — each dog is different so each person will need to find what is their particular dog’s most valuable.”

8

This Waterproof Car Seat Cover With A Vent For Circulation

Zoologist and animal behavior expert Charli Burbidge, who co-founded petz.uk, recommends a car seat cover for your pets because it has a vented mesh window that allows air conditioning to circulate through the car and keep your dog cool. “To alleviate heavy panting or squirmish behavior in the back seat, use this car seat cover to give your dog a sense of security. The padded walls prevent injury from sliding and falling on the car floor,” Burbidge told Mic.

9

This Lick Mat That Will Help Distract Your Dog During Bath Time

If you have a hard time keeping your pet in place during bath time or other grooming tasks like nail clipping, this lick mat will help your dog remain calm.

Mikkel Becker, CPDT-KA certified trainer, BCC-KA and CDBC certified dog behavior counselor, and lead animal trainer for Fear Free, loves the versatility of the Aquapaw Slow Treat Mat. “You can fill it with different treats like peanut butter, baby food (meat-based, of course), fat-free Greek yogurt, or soft cheese...it can be placed all over the house,” Becker said.

10

This Sturdy Shower Mat That Provides Balance and Prevents Scary Slips

Another shower product for your pet that Becker recommends is this Gorilla Grip bath mat. “Slip and scare moments in the bath make dogs terrified: slippery = scary,” Becker explained. “A pet's sense of balance is essential for their physical and emotional wellbeing.” This one features hundreds of suction cups to help secure the mat firmly in place.

11

This Versatile Leash That Works Hands-Free

Audrey Fellows, Certified Professional Dog Trainer at Doggo, told Bustle, “I only use multi-function leashes because my hands always seem to be full when I'm with my dogs. This way if I don't have a hand to hold the leash, I can hang it around my shoulder courier style or tighten it around my waist like a belt.” This leash gives you five different options with multiple configurations and lengths to choose from. It has an adjustable neoprene handle for added comfort.

12

These Long-Lasting Yak Cheese Chews That Are Odor Free

Andy Ramshaw, trainer and owner of Venture Dog Training told Bustle that you should never dismiss a dog’s need to chew. "Chewing is a normal, natural canine behavior and its repetitive nature is calming,” Ramshaw said. “Dogs aren't able to differentiate between 'legal' and 'illegal' chew toys! It's the owner's responsibility to set up the environment so the dog or puppy has no access to 'illegal' chews like shoes, glasses, remote controls, phones, etc. And to supply the dog with a variety of 'legal' chew toys.”

If you’re looking for healthy chew options, these Yak Cheese Dog Chews contain no artificial ingredients and are rich in protein.

13

A Rubber Chew Toy That Also Provides Mental Stimulation

Looking for a brand-new chew toy? Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer and Pet Lifestyle Expert with Rover, is a fan of the Kong toy. “For the dogs being destructive and chewing furniture, get a classic Kong,” she told Mic. “Before you leave the house, stuff it with some delicious items like peanut butter, yogurt, or fruit to entice them and keep them busy and encourage your dog to chew it. Chewing can be calming for dogs, so giving them an appropriate outlet can save your furniture and keep your pup busy. Need it to last longer? Put in the freezer for a longer-lasting [treat].”

14

A No-Chew Spray That’ll Prevent Your Dog From Chewing On Household Items

If your dog won’t stop chewing on furniture, shoes and other things around the house you want to avoid, Ellis suggests this Apple No Chew Spray. “Consider spraying those items with something bitter,” she said. This formula by Grannick’s is often a favorite, since it’s not harmful to dogs and won’t leave any lingering stains behind.

15

A Best-Selling Dog Anxiety Jacket

It’s important to remember that dogs and humans react to situations differently. What’s anxiety-inducing for a dog can be different from what’s anxiety-inducing for a human. And, it’s important for dog owners to remember that and think up better solutions to keep pups calm. “Never punish your dog,” Ellis said to Mic. “Accidents happen, and dogs don’t understand cause and effect the same way people do.” This best-selling dog anxiety jacket ranges in sizes XS - XXL and works to effectively eases anxieties. The patented design applies gentle and constant pressure to calm fear and over-excitement.

16

This Interactive Fetch Stick That Will Help Your Dog Stay Engaged

Keeping your pet focused is no easy feat. Ellis recommends a game of fetch to help keep your dog attentive, once telling Bustle, “Dog not focusing? Try training after a nice long walk or game of fetch to take the edge off and help them.” This top-rated fetch stick is the perfect solution for a long game of fetch. One five-star reviewer wrote, “This is a very flexible, durable, and comfortable fetch toy to use with your dog.”

17

A Head Collar That Will Help You Get Better Control

If you need to reign more control over your dog, Danielle Muhlenberg, dog behaviorist at PawLeaks, recommends swapping to this Halti head collar. "A Halti or no-pull harness can do wonders for dog owners who struggle with teaching their dog to walk properly,” she told Mic. “It's also great for reactive or even aggressive dogs since you control your dog's head positioning.” This version is great since it’s made with nylon webbing that’ll keep your dog comfortable.

18

This Calming Heartbeat Stuffed Snuggle Puppy

This adorable Snuggle Puppy toy has been around for decades due to its calming effect on pets. JM Littman, director of Webheads, tells Bustle that a comforting toy like this may help eliminate excessive barking. “If your dog barks constantly while you are away, it may be suffering from separation anxiety. Give your pet lots of love and praise when they are relaxed. Make sure they have enough toys and activities to keep them from getting bored,” Littman said.

19

An Indestructible Toy For Aggressive Chewers

It may be impossible to find a dog toy that’s totally indestructible, but this highly-rated treat-dispensing chew toy comes pretty close. Heather Byron, facility manager for a dog/cat rescue and adoption outfitter who runs AnimalDome.com, once told Mic that these are “one of the items we turn to in our adoption shelter to calm dogs down once they start acting up is to offer each a bully stick and to separate the ones acting up into different rooms.” This one comes in four sizes and three flavors: bacon, chicken, and peanut.

20

This Shake And Break Tool That May Stop Excessive Barking

This simple but effective shake-and-break training tool works to stop unwanted behavior by breaking the dog's focus and redirecting it to you so that you can correct them.

"Most dogs love to bark—at the doorbell, the mailman, and every squirrel they see through the window,” Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale, told Mic. “However, this is a behavior that can easily be reduced with proper training. The process is fairly straightforward. When your dog barks, you need to break their attention and redirect it to a new behavior, followed by a reward.”

21

This Best-Selling Pack of Potty Training Doorbells

Dubbed a top best-seller on Amazon, pet owners love this affordable pack of doorbells that help their dog signal when they have to go to the bathroom. Kimberly Archer, Dog Behavior Specialist at Courteous Canine Inc, says, “one of the issues that owners have is not knowing when their puppy needs to go potty... Though puppies do give signs before they go potty such as circling around and sniffing, it can be easy to miss these signs.” Perfect for puppies, one five-star shopper said that these doorbells “made potty training a breeze.”

22

This Calming Dog Treat That Will Relax Your Pet

Made with melatonin, ginger, L-tryptophan, and thiamin, the dog-safe chews come highly recommended to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and help with motion sickness. Archer also suggests using them in tandem with encouraging restful behavior. “Just giving your dog treats anytime they do decide to relax is a great start but an even better thing to add in is calming food toys,” she said.

23

This Faucet Attachment That Allows Your Dog To Get Fresh Water Whenever

This affordable faucet turns any hose into a self-watering device for your pet. Kevin Ryan, professional dog trainer at Superb Dog, once told Bustle, "This super inexpensive item is incredibly practical and useful for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors...It takes about a minute to teach them that licking on the end will get them water, and after that, you never have to worry about them running out of water, or having water get old and dirty, knocked over, or too hot from the sun.” Well-hydrated dogs are happy dogs, after all.

24

This Tricky Treat Ball That Will Keep Your Dog Busy For Hours

If you’re looking for a challenging treat that will keep your dog busy for hours, this Tricky Treat ball is a winner. Joan Hunter Mayer, certified dog trainer and professional canine behavior consultant behind Inquisitive Canine, said that people should "provide [their] dog enrichment activities to help build self-confidence and independence, and redirect their hunting and problem-solving energy to something productive.” At this price point, this ball makes for an excellent solution.

Simply insert your dog’s favorite foods into the ball and it will dispense treats as your dog is playing to keep your pup focused and entertained.

25

This Harness That’s Designed To Fit Your Pup Comfortably

Mayer also suggests to “use humane, force-free training equipment such as a harness, as opposed to items that choke and cause pain.” She added, “this type of gear helps enhance the human-canine bond while avoiding the development of negative conditioned responses and often more fear and anxiety.”

Available in 13 colors and four sizes, this harness has an X-shape design that makes it easy for your dog to step into and out of the harness without a hassle. Plus, the metal D-ring on the back gives you a firm place to attach your leash.

26

A Spritz of Calming Essential Oils To Lower Anxiety

Shonyae Johnson, a certified behavior manager for Operation Kindness, once told Inverse that “pet calming sprays and chewable treats are known to lower anxiety levels when experiencing separation anxiety, thunderstorms, and fireworks.”

If you’re looking for something that comes highly recommended, this particular calming spray is a favorite among Amazon shoppers. It’s scented with aroma-therapeutic natural essential oils such as lavender and chamomile.

27

A Travel Backpack That May Reduce Your Dog’s Anxiety

“Exercise is so important for reducing anxiety, and wearing a backpack gives the dog a job to focus on,” Lindsay Stordahl, a professional dog trainer, explained. She told Inverse, “I've found dog backpacks really help with anxious, high-energy dogs, dogs that tend to pull, or dogs that tend to react to people or dogs during walks.”

This backpack, available in four colors, is loved by thousands of shoppers. It even features a handle on the back, just in case you need to quickly grab hold of your dog.

28

A Dog Treat Pouch So You’ll Always Be Stocked With Treats On-The-Go

This dog treat pouch is a favorite for effortlessly depositing meat-flavored treats to your dog in seconds. Melissa “MJ” Viera, founder of MJ’s Pet Training Academy, once suggested to Bustle that dog owners “can also change where on your body the food is kept so your dog learns to listen even when you are not wearing a training bag.” This bubble pouch can easily be clipped to any pocket or keychain and is dishwasher safe. It’s made of food-grade silicone and available in several vivid shades.

29

These Honey-Dipped Treats That Will Satisfy Your Dog’s Sweet Tooth

Everyone gets a sweet tooth — even your pup. Courtney Briggs, the head trainer at Zoom Room, tells Bustle, “A lot of humans don’t realize that dogs have a sweet tooth. Many new-to-market dog chews dip the chews in honey to satisfy that sweet tooth.” She continues, “Honey I’m Home treats offers a variety of honey-dipped treats. But remember, moderation is key, always.” These specific treats are suitable for pups of all ages.

30

This Interactive Puzzle Toy That Make Giving Your Dog Treat More Fun

“For low to moderate cases of separation anxiety, distraction works great,” Meg Marrs, a dog trainer for K9 of Mine, told Bustle. “That's why I'd highly recommend a puzzle toy for a dog with separation anxiety — something tasty and fun to show the dog that being alone isn't scary. In fact, it's really fun!” This treat dispenser is a great way to keep your dog entertained and busy. As a bonus, some Amazon reviewers mentioned it entertained their cats, as well.