Christmas is just around the corner! It’s time to start shopping for presents to put under the tree. If you’re like me, you may struggle with coming up with just the right gift, so this blog takes the guesswork out of picking out the best presents for your dog! Whenever I’m shopping for my dogs or friends’ dogs, I always look to buy things that are going to enhance their lives by providing physical exercise, mental stimulation and training opportunities. The following is a list of items I recommend, along with where to buy them. While this is a Christmas post, these gift ideas can be used anytime of the year and for dogs of all ages and breeds.

  1. The Squishy Face Flirt Pole

The Squishy Face Flirt Pole is a high quality toy that’s basically a giant cat toy.It has a pole with a string and a toy attached to the end of the string. The idea is that you bounce the toy back and forth horizontally and around in a full 360 degree circle bring the toy to life like prey thus encouraging your dog to chase the toy and grab it. Once the dog has the toy, you can praise the dog but do not play tug-of-war. This tug is not designed for that, and should the dog let go the toy will be flying into your face with great energy. We teach dogs to wait to engage the toy, to stand or lay still with their prize after they catch it, and to bring the toy to us then drop it on command.

The flirt pole is a game-changer for high energy dogs and dogs with almost any level of prey drive. There are lots of different brands out there. We only recommend Squishy Face’s product, because it’s built to stand the test of time with lots of action. I’ve had mine for three years now, and it’s still going strong. I just got one for my sister’s dog as a gift, and she said he absolutely loves it! My sister is a runner, and she usually takes her dog with her. She said that 5 minutes with the flirt pole wears him out more than a 5 mile run. It engages the dog completely for an all-body workout.

Squishy Face Studio is a small Florida-based, family business that sells only products made in the USA. We sell this toy for $26.99 at all three of our locations- our price beats Amazon – or you can use my affiliate code to shop online. Buy two and they’ll ship free!

2. FitPAWS Gear for Dogs

The combination of physical and mental exercises is absolutely critical to a well-balanced dog. FitPAWS® Gear is a great way to exercise your dog mentally and physically at the same time. FitPAWS® Products combine dog-specific products that provides that you can do anywhere, anytime within the confines of your own space and personal schedule.

FitPAWS is like gym equipment for dogs. It provides a full-body workout while engaging one of the most important parts of their body – the core! It’s a great way to exercise your dog, enhance their body awareness skills and build their confidence on various surfaces that are both stable and unstable.

When teaching a dog to use FitPAWS, use food luring (free how-to video here) and marker words (explained here). Start with a low and relatively flat piece of equipment, such as the K9 FitBONE or the Balance Disc, to set him up for success. With your dog on a leash, try to lure your dog’s front paws on then the back paws. Once your dog gets the hang of it, try to get your dog on the product completely with all four paws, if you think doing so is doable considering your dog’s size. Always support your dog and assist if your dog is wobbly or unstable. I like to use a harness with a handle so I can easily grab the handle on the harness if need be. If your dog is unsure of getting on the product, you can block off one side by placing the product next to a wall so that your dog only has one option: getting on. Once your dog conquers his fear and steps on the product, praise him and reward generously.

FitPAWS does not sell directly from their website. Instead, you can email me and I’ll be happy to place an order for you. First-time buyers get 10% off their entire first order. This equipment is not cheap, but it is a quality product, so you can expect it to last for years and years and bring your dog lots of joy! Great wintertime activity. Just to sure to trim your dog’s nails before use.

3. Cannabidiol (CBD)

Did you know CBD works the same for dogs and other animals as it does for humans? Our canine friends possess the same naturally-occurring endocannabinoid system that humans do. With this in mind, it’s no real surprise to learn that CBD for dogs was one of the most popular market trends over the past four years. It’s become more and more popular now with the legalization of marijuana; however, it’s important to note that CBD is derived from hemp, not marijuana, so it has no psychoactive side effects on dogs. CBD is beneficial is many ways. It helps dogs who suffer from anxiety and stress. It eases dogs with moderate to severe pain, chronic inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. It can help prevent or lessen the occurrence of seizures in epileptic dogs. It helps dogs with digestion problem, nausea and cancer symptoms. I personally give my dogs CBD for two main reasons: to ease any joint pain issues (they’re now 5, 5, and 8 years old) and to prevent seizures in my 8-year-old dog. She had one seizure six months ago, I started giving her CBD, and she’s had no seizures (that we know of) since then!

We sell CBD in both liquid and powder form. A little bit goes a long ways! Email to place an order ( or swing by our Spokane location to pick some up. One gram is $49.95. Shipping is $3. For a 50-pound dog, a one gram packet will last approximately three months.

As I was writing this blog post, I got an email from someone in Georgia who purchased CBD from me last month:
“Last month I received some CBD Crystal Isolate and its working wonders for Claude!  Above and beyond what Lazarus Naturals was doing.  We are over the moon happy and Claude has been showing a lot more positive behavior since. I am wondering when I will be able to order more?”

And the other day, a client who ordered CBD a month ago sent me this text message:
“Update. Since starting CBD, she’s only had one episode (seizure) and it lasted about three seconds. She had been having them every few days, sometimes twice a day…I’m feeling hopeful.”

I wouldn’t sell it if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in it!

4. Tug Toys

My favorite tug toy is by Redline K9. It’s a great length for any size dog and has handles on both end. I use my tug almost daily with my high drive shepherd, and on average the tug lasts about two years. Click this link to see this tug on Amazon. If you use this link to buy, I receive a small commission from Amazon.

Other tug toys I recommend are: the Chuckit! Ultra Tug and the Chuckit! Ball Launcher.

5. Chuckit! Balls

This is by far the least expensive option, and something I highly recommend. I made the mistake my first three years with my shepherd of using regular tennis balls for playtime and searches. Tennis balls are covered with a felt-like material that acts like sand paper on dogs’ teeth. His teeth wore down a lot in those early years. When I realized the problem, someone gave me great advice and recommended switching to Chuckit! balls. I’m so glad I did! I’ve seen no additional wear-and-tear on his teeth. Be sure to buy balls that are larger than your dog’s throat for safety reasons. Dogs that roll around with toys in their mouth or jump straight up to catch a ball can easily choke on them. Chuckit! Ultra Balls are a little more pricey, but well-worth it. I’ll include a link here, but be sure to shop around for the right size. If you use this link, I’ll receive a small thank-you commission from Amazon.

By: Amy Pishner, Owner & Head Trainer of Valor K9 Academy