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Old dog, new tricks: The most useful pet gear for puppy training and mature dogs

Treat your furry companion to a swaddling blanket, a maze feeder, a finger toothbrush or a Casper mattress (yes, they make them for dogs too).
Carol Yepes:Getty Images
Dog day afternoon.

Whether it’s a pandemic puppy who has to adjust to being home alone during the day or an older dog who is bored of their Kong, these pet accessories — from a mattress-brand day bed to rubber lick mats — prioritize comfort, safety, activeness and wellness. There's several Canadian-made picks to choose from.


Lick mat.

Like a Montessori activity for dogs, these colourful lick mats offer hours of tactile entertainment. Fill the holes with peanut butter, plain yogurt or wet treats for hours of entertainment (for them) and quiet (for you). These ones come in seven different colours and patterns from Ontario-based The Spoiled Dog Box Shop on Etsy.

Who it's ideal for: A dog who’s tired of their toys.

Why we're endorsing it: Design, ingenuity, user reviews.

Where it could use improvements: Dogs might like more than one.

Size/weight/dimensions: 5"7" and 8"x8".


Bao bun toy.

This adorable BaoMio dog puzzle from Vancouver-based Etsy shop ACCDesign is too cute to pass up. The steamed dumpling shapes can be pushed into slots (hide a treat underneath for extra incentive) and even when it’s not being used, it’s cute enough to leave in the living room. Available on Etsy

Who it's ideal for: A very smart pup.

Why we're endorsing it: Unique and adorable design, Vancouver-made, excellent shop reviews.

Where it could use improvements: It’s selling out quickly and might be gone soon.

Size/weight/dimensions: Small (5.2”) or regular (7”).


Paw protector.

Okanagan-based natural pet care line Dr. Maggie makes a Paw Protector that’s great for dogs who don’t like to wear booties. It soothes dryness and cracking and protects against environmental elements (like hot pavement or salt). Formulated from coconut oil, almond oil, shea butter, beeswax, lecithin and calendula, it is “lick safe” and can also double as an ointment for the nose or other dry spots. Available on Amazon and directly from Dr. Maggie.

Who it's ideal for: Dogs who refuse to walk in boots. 

Why we're endorsing it: B.C.-made, user reviews, safety. 

Where it could use improvements: Jar needs to be kept at room temperature so it doesn't harden. 

Size/weight/dimensions: 7 oz. 


Casper dog beds.

Is your dog obsessed with your bed? Now, they can have their very own Casper mattress. These springy dog beds in muted tones (no patterns or fluff) get rave user reviews. The nylon cover can go in the wash and the double layer of foam maximizes nap time. Available directly through Casper

Who it's ideal for: Anyone who wants a resting spot for their dog, one that doesn’t take over the entire room.

Why we're endorsing it: Brand trust, reviews.

Where it could use improvements: Premium price.

Size/weight/dimensions: Small (up to 30 pounds) to large (up to 90 pounds).


ThunderShirt dog vest.

Does your dog seem hyper or anxious? The ThunderShirt bills itself as a swaddling blanket for dogs, with similar calming effects. It can help in stressful situations (like nights when there are fireworks or thunder, separation anxiety, air and car travel, vet visits) by calming excitable barking, panting and reactiveness. Anxiety doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, but many dog owners report positive results from adding the ThunderShirt to their routine. Available on Amazon.

Who it's ideal for: Owners looking for a soothing tool.

Why we're endorsing it: User reviews, ease of use (no training required).

Where it could use improvements: Not all dogs respond the same way to it.

Size/weight/dimensions: S (15 pounds)-2XL (90 pounds).


Outward Hound dog bowl.

If dinner is getting gobbled up in seconds, this Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl can help. It's designed to help slow down the eating process, having the dog “search” for food in a maze. Slowing down can help aid digestion and lessen bloating after a meal. Available on Amazon.

Who it's ideal for: Dogs who eat really fast.

Why we're endorsing it: Design, ingenuity, safety, works with wet and dry food.

Where it could use improvements: Genius dogs might figure out the foraging system pretty quickly.

Size/weight/dimensions: Small (3/4 cup) to large (4 cups).


Finger scrubber.

For dogs who hate a regular toothbrush, this finger tooth scrubber from SusisScrubbers in Calgary can help ease the cleaning process. Users give it a thumbs up for its construction and durability and note that with this finger scrubber, it’s easier to reach each tooth. Available from a Canadian retailer on Etsy

Who it's ideal for: Anyone who doesn’t mind playing dentist to their dog.

Why we're endorsing it: User reviews, price, made in Canada.

Where it could use improvements: Many of the reviews are for small dogs (and small teeth).

Size/weight/dimensions: One size fits most.

Animora gel

A good toothpaste (that appeals to their taste buds) can help with the brushing process as well. Canadian-made Animora gel is made from cranberry extract and can help combat gnarly breath and plague buildup. Available on Amazon

Who it's ideal for: Dogs with dog breath.

Why we're endorsing it: Canadian-made, price, user reviews, works for dogs and cats.

Where it could use improvements: One flavour. Keep refrigerated.

Size/weight/dimensions: 90 ml.