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11 Of The Best Hacks For Dog Owners (And Their Dogs)

dog hacks

I’m a big fan of “life hacks”—simple tips that make life easier are basically the bread and butter of this blog! Over the years I’ve shared plenty of them, including 25 clever hacks to make life easier, 25 car hacks, cheat codes for real life, and my long-running “Why Didn’t I Think of That?” series.

Since we do talk about dogs here pretty frequently, it recently occurred to me that we’ve never done a list of hacks relating to our furry friends! So I put together this collection of simple, usable tips for dog owners that can help make taking care of your pooch a little bit easier. Enjoy!

11 Hacks That Every Dog Owner Should Know About

dog hacks

1. Make Brushing Teeth More Fun

Brushing their teeth is one of those activities that the dog and dog owner often dread equally, but regular brushing is an important part of keeping your dog healthy. Make it less of a chore by incorporating a fun toy! Look for a rubbery toy with firm nubs or deep grooves (like this one) that will grip and clean their teeth. You can also apply a bit of dog toothpaste directly to the toy for added cleaning power.

dog hacks

2. Slow Down Fast Eaters

Some dogs eat so quickly that they look like they’re inhaling their food rather than chewing and swallowing it. Eating too quickly can cause stomach issues and even result in vomiting, so it’s important for dog owners to slow down fast eaters to avoid these issues.

One way to do it is to place an object in their food bowl as an obstacle, which will force them to work around it and eat more slowly. Another option is to place a small bowl upside down in the center of their food dish, which will keep the food around the outside of the bowl where it’s more difficult to reach.

If these DIY tips don’t work for your voracious eater, try a slow feeder bowl like this one.

dog hacks

3. Clip A Carabiner To Their Leash

Keep a carabiner on your dog’s leash—you can use it to secure your dog to a post or tree if you have to run in somewhere. Carabiners also come in handy as a place to wrap your waste bags when you’re out for a walk, and you could even use it to attach multiple leashes together for walks with multiple dogs.

dog hacks

4. Use Pill Pockets

Getting dogs to take medications can be difficult for any dog owner, but pill pockets make it much easier. Pill pockets are small dog treats with a hole in the center for pills, and most dogs eat them right up! You can buy pill pockets online, or you can make your own.

To make pill pockets, combine 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 2 tablespoons of flour in a small bowl. Roll the dough out into a long tube, and cut it into 12 pieces. Use a chopstick or skewer to make a hole in one end of each piece. Store in a ziplock bag in the fridge for up to one week.

dog hacks

5. Use A Shower Cap

Soap and water can irritate your dogs sensitive ears and eyes. Keep them protected during bath time with a shower cap. If your dog doesn’t like having their eyes covered, just cover them quickly right before rinsing, and use lots of positive reinforcement!

dog hacks

6. DIY No-Sew Pet Bed

Store-bought dog beds are expensive, and many dogs end up tearing them to shreds in the long run anyway. So why not make an easy and inexpensive pet bed that you can customize to fit your pet instead? Especially since you can do it in about 15 minutes!

dog hacks

7. DIY No-Sew Dog Toy

You can make an easy braided dog toy at home, too! For a tricolored braid, gather a few old or thrifted t-shirts in different colors and cut 6 strips of fabric of equal length from each one, plus a few extra for good measure.

Use one of the fabric strips to tie all of the strips together an inch or two in from one end. Braid the three colors together, stopping about an inch or two before the end, then use another strip to tie off the braid.

dog hacks

8. DIY Dog Treats

You can also save money on pet supplies by making your own dog treats! Your dog will love them, and you’ll have peace of mind from knowing exactly what ingredients went into them.

dog hacks

9. Eliminate Pet Stains

Even for the most well-behaved and house-trained dogs, accidents still happen! Eliminating pet stains and odors on carpet is easy with a little baking soda and vinegar! Get all details from my simple, effective remedy for pet stains on carpet.

dog hacks

10. Pick Up Pet Hair

If you have a furry friend at home, then you are already intimately familiar with the issue of pet hair. It gets everywhere, but my best tips for dealing with pet hair can help you keep it under control.

dog hacks

11. Ring The Bell For Service

Training your dog to ring a bell when they need to go outside is not only useful for both of you, but it’s easier than you’d think. Hang a bell like this one near the door and shake it loudly every time you take the dog out to go potty. (If your dog responds to a specific phrase, like “let’s go outside” or “time to go potty,” use that while you ring the bell.

After a few days of this, get your dog involved. Have them bump into the bell with their paw or nose, then reward them with verbal encouragement and head scratches as you take them or let them outside. (Avoid rewarding with treats here, as this could teach them that ringing the bell gets them a treat.)

After a few days or weeks of this pattern, your dog should start ringing the bell to let you know it’s time to go outside!

What tips or tricks for dog owners would you add to this list?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

MORE IDEAS FROM

Bright Ideas

  • The braided DIY toys are great! I make mine out of deconstructed denim which my very destructive dog loves. They take him a lot longer to tear apart than softer fabrics. Use old denim of your own or pick up a pair or two at the thrift store or yard sales.

  • To the post about Lyme disease I would advise adding a tsp or 2 of coconut oil to the dogs dinner , or straight up, most love it , it will help with the thyroid and other things .
    I use it as a preventative every day for myself and my 4 legged friends .
    Go to coconutoilresearch.org
    Look for The Coconut Oil Miracle by Dr Bruce Fife it’s a great book to keep on hand (I have read it 4 times and always find things I don’t remember reading the first time )☺
    This is an excellent resource for preventing and helping so many ailments
    The best part is there are no allergic reactions .

  • NEVER NEVER give dogs any form of sausage NITRATES are deadly and are in many preserved meats especially bacon
    Check out ingredients before giving dogs anything Best to feed raw grass fed mince with vegies and molasses
    My dogs always live to be a minimum of 18 years old and after the first year of life have never been to a Vet

  • To get a dog to take meds, try Chicken Vienna Sausages. They come in a small can, and you can easily insert the pill into the sausage since it is very soft. Works like a charm!

  • Loved the tip on slowing down a speedy eater. Another easy and inexpensive tip that we saw and tried with our Lab was divvying up the dog food among the cups of a muffin pan, then covering each with a tennis ball.

  • My Scottie hated taking pills and I tried everything until I finally discovered the one thing that he would always eat: a small chunk of Velveeta, just big enough to cover the pill. Some friends use a small slice of the least expensive hot dogs available. I always have Velveeta in the house so that it’s no extra effort to get/keep it on hand for when I need it.

  • Best tug of war rope I’ve found is an old seatbelt!…Take a piece and tie it in knots… three knots seems to be a nice length and your ready to go!!! The seatbelt material is very strong a durable it lets the teeth pass through without falling to pieces and may help clean the teeth I would imagine….I chose the seatbelt material because it doesn’t matter what you do the longest pieces that come off are only as long as the width of the seatbelt! So there is less chance of a blockage. I stopped giving my dog those tug ropes because he’s a little crazy and EATS is….. ANYWAYS After you and your pooch have been playing with the rope you WILL need to give it a hair cut from time to time. Have fun!!!! * I do strongly suggest you wash and rinse the seat belt to make sure there isn’t any kind of grease or other stuff put on or accidentally spilt on*

    • Tug of war is not a recommended game by most dog trainers. It teaches the dog to resist you which can translate to resisting you in other ways.

      • We taught our dog to “tug” and “give” so she gets to play a little bit of tugging and we say “give” she drops the toy or ball at once.

  • Great Post as usual Jillee! thanks! We have a nervous female 2.5 yr. old lab/shep mix that I am going to try lavender E. O as the 4th gets closer- that is for sure! My Daughter’s dog has Lyme Disease. Do you have any EO recommendations for him? Sometimes he has bouts of limping (I am sure from sore joints etc.) Thanks a bunch!!

    • A few drops of peppermint essential oil (mixed into a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil), will make a great pain-relieving lotion for joint issues!

  • Be careful with peanut butter! Many major brands now sweeten their peanut butter products with an additive called xylitol. It is known to cause major issues, including severe drops in blood sugar. Watch out for your furry friend by reading the labels on pet food products and human foods given as special treats.

  • Great tips – one that we use is buying a bundt cake pan to use as a slow feeder bowl – bonus, you can usually find them at Goodwill for $1!

  • For giving meds….. here is what I do thanks to a smart friend: because my dog was too smart for the pill pockets, she would drop them on the floor and crack them open and eat the wrap and leave the pill. Use white AIR BREAD (LIKE A CHEAPER VERSION OF WONDER BREAD) you need to roll part of a piece around the pill and make a ball. Do that to three that don’t have pills, Give two that don’t have pills first, then give the one with a pill and another without. They eat the first cautiously sometimes, then the second goes right down, then they take the one with the pill get it right down and think,…. hmm was something in that? Then you give another one with no pill and they think nope! Its a treat. And if it does fall on the floor, the bread is sticky enough that it doesn’t break open, but not sticky enough to leave residue. Cheese might also work but will leave oil and breaks apart easier. I used to give my dog 3 pills and use no more that one piece of white bread. (there are worse things they can eat and they get their meds.

  • I put a little butter or Country Crock on my older dog’s pills and administer one at a time. When my younger dog waits for “her treat,” I give her a bee pollen pill with the butter. Works every time.

  • I don’t think using a carabiner clip to hold two leashes at the same time is a good idea. First, hard on the hand, could slip. and the latch is never actually locked. The leashes could come out. Other uses for this sort of clip are great. Thanks for your “hacks”.

    • I’d love to see something on rabbits too. We raise them and I do have a French lop house bunny. Seems nobody thinks about the poor little buns. They make nice pets.

  • I always love your “hack” blogs. I have more help for giving meds. Don’t THINK or FEEL that it will be hard to give. They WILL get the message. Treat it as just a treat. If you have more than one dog (and maybe even cats) give each a treat. One plain and one with the meds. They will usually eat something they wouldn’t eat if they think the other one will want it. You could also have them sit and/or do a short training session to slip them the medication for doing their lessons. Cats … well good luck. Mine enjoyed her liquid medication. But I have given meds to cats in the kennel I worked at. Be calm and patient. And quick and sure. Handling your pet regularly and going through the motions of things that they may not like helps when the time come that it needs to be done. (hopefully never) Ask the vet or groomer what training would help. I had two dogs that would watch me take my vitamins, and beg for some too. So I shared the fish oil I was taking. They never gave me trouble when they were older and needed aspirin.

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