Pet products are getting smarter, safer, and healthier.   It’s not just technology that’ responsible for the boom, but the increased understanding of our pets from the trainer’s viewpoint, and how they think.   Here are my top picks for the year so far as shown on NBC’S “TODAY” show this morning.

1.  WHISTLE Activity Monitor        $99.99

We’re all familiar the activity trackers for humans, like the Nike FuelBand and the Fitbit, that inform us  how many steps we take, how many calories we use, and how much sleep we get. This innovative little device will not only track your dog’s activity the same way, but when you’re walking him, it will record the amount of time you spent on your walk and how intense the activity was for you as well as your dog.

You connect the device to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi via a mobile app, create your dog’s profile, set your dog’s daily activity goal and you’re ready to go.  You can share with others, add photos, and log food and medication notes.

2,  VOYCE Health Monitor $299 plus $9.95/month membership

Here’s another pet health and activity tracker. Like the Whistle Activity Tracker, this is a smart pendant that tracks physical activity levels and sleep patterns in your pet, then relays the information wirelessly to smartphones or WiFi hotspots.

Voyce monitors the key vital signs of your pet, such as resting heart rate and respiratory rate, along with other wellness indicators such as activity, rest and calories burned.

Voyce’s monthly membership provides Medical record storage you can share with your vet, goal setting like weight loss, reminders for vaccinations, appointments and events, and a library of articles from experts, tailored to your dog.

3.  JONES NATURAL CHEWS  $1.79 and up and Himalayan Dog Chews $7.99 to $18.99

Chewing is one of the most relaxing things your dog can do, and it burns off energy and keeps him away from the furniture.   The first rule of any chew is to supervise your dog when he’s working on it.  Anything a dog puts in his mouth can break, get stuck, or be eaten too fast.

Jones has been in the business a long time and manufactures its products in the United States.  I don’t recommend rawhide, it’s too easy to grab big pieces, swallow, and get a stomach blockage.  I like the bully sticks, the beef knuckles and center bones.   Knuckles last a long time and you can find little or big ones.   And center bones are hard enough that they don’t splinter easily, and last a very long time.

Himalayan Dog Chews were born from an ancient recipe for a hard cheese snack chewed by the people of the Himalayas.  They’re made cow and yak milk with lime juice and salt.

4,  THE COMPANY OF ANIMALS GREEN Slow Feeder  $27.99 to $36.99

A lot of dogs lack mental stimulation.  By entertaining your dog with his regular food allowance and allowing him to “forage” for his meal, you can stimulate him mentally and help avoid problem behaviors like inappropriate chewing or barking.

Scatter the desired amount of dog food across the “green,” your dog has to work to get the food out from between the many blades of grass. There is an outer rim on the feeder so that you can use wet food or add water.  Slower eating reduces the risk of bloat and the unpleasant after-effects of eating too fast, like gas, The Green comes in two sizes for small or larger dogs.  It’s made of food-grade plastic in a singled molded piece, and its dishwasher safe.

5.  RUFFWEAR Protective Jackets and Boots Jackets $79.95.   Boots 59.95.

Ruffwear makes quality, well fitted outdoor protective wear for dogs that good looking but more importantly, works, particularly in tough weather.  And Ruffwear provides its customers with very clear fit guides to help find the proper size product for your dog.

The Ruffwear Cloud Chaser™ is a soft-shell jacket that helps you and your pup extend activities in inclement weather, protecting against rain, snow, wind and cold. A convenient zipper on the left side of the coat allows for easy on/off.

The Ruffwear Quinzee is a warm, lightweight insulated jacket for extreme cold or inclement weather. The jacket packs down into its integrated, sewn-in pocket and auto-lock buckles on each side provide easy on/off.

Summit Trex Boots  boots provide traction and paw protection from extreme temperatures, abrasive surfaces, and salt or other snowmelt chemicals. The outsole provides flexible traction while an inner liner protects their legs.   These are the kinds of boots you’ll see on working dogs who put in a lot of miles on different surfaces.

6.  PUP Protector Collars and Leashes $39 ($55 List)

This product was developed by a dog owner who got hit by a car while crossing a street on foot in San Diego. He’s fine but was motivated by the incident to do what he loved in life, work with dogs.

Getting hit by a car is every dog walker’s worst nightmare.   A lot of us simply underestimate how visible people and dogs are at night, whether they are walking or driving.   You can’t be too visible, and the brightness of LED lights on these collars and leashes greatly enhances the dog’s visibility—all the way up to 1500 feet. These weather resistant leashes and collars also have reflective stitching and during daylight hours, the pearl studs just look great.

7.    Petchatz  $349

PetChatz® is a videophone that gives pet parents interact with their pet “child” from anywhere throughout your day.  I’m going to use it to talk to our demo dog Wrangler. This is a trained behavior.  For the dog to alert to your voice, and check for the treat might take a couple of sessions.   But he’ll get the idea fast.

The device mounts over any electrical outlet. Connect your PetChatz to your home wi-fi network using your computer, tablet or app on your smartphone. Fill the unit with snacks and scents your pet loves. Then when you want to check in, a special ringtone tells your pet you’re calling. Your pet will see you on the unit’s color screen. You can remotely release snacks and sniffs.   You can also record and share videos from the unit.

 The company that makes this unit is very conscious of pet safety, and they’ve designed PetChatz to be safe, durable and damage-resistant.

iFETCH Automatic Ball Launcher   $125 ($185.99 List)

This product was born out of a Kickstarter campaign.  My dog Delilah plays with an iFetch. It’s a battery operated, interactive ball launcher that throws a tennis ball variable distances when the dog hits a button.   This is the small dog version with a mini tennis ball, The company is developing a bigger version of the iFetch for larger dogs.

If your dog already loves to play fetch, she should learn to use iFetch very quickly. The company offers training tips and videos on their website


9.  TAGG GPS Plus Pet Tracker          $120.00

We all worry that something will happen, like a gardener letting a gate open or a car theft, that will leave our pets lost or stolen.   No matter how careful we are, things sometimes go wrong. And sadly, ten million pets get lost every year.

The Tagg GPS Plus is a very small, light, waterproof location tracking device that attaches to your dog’s collar and works over your cell phone network.

You set the perimeter of your pet’s home base, and then TAGG immediately notifies you via text or email if your dog happens to wander outside your “safe” zone   You can immediately pinpoint your pet on a map;  the app even gives you driving directions to her location.

Like the Whistle Activity Monitor, the GPS Plus also tracks your dog’s activity. It also monitors your pet’s environment, and alerts if your pet gets too hot or cold.  This model is available in March of this year.


Dogs that put us in the poor house (and create digestive upset for themselves), by consuming chews too quickly. Now, with these safe-to-chew natural rubber wraps, you can slow your dog’s progress, while still holding their interest. Made in the USA with your dog’s health and safety in mind, Ruffhides help:

  • Promote good dental health
  • Prevent digestive issues that may occur if your dog consumes chews too quickly
  • Protect your carpet and upholstery by keeping gooey chews from coming into contact with surfaces

While rawhides are normally a treat I don’t recommend because they are messy, and eaten too fast they are dangerous to a dog’s digestion, Pawabunga has come up with a good solution.   Of course you can use other chews in these wraps, too.


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