Stuff My Dog Loves: Service Dog Edition

I’m a huge fan of the Dog Snobs’ Blog. They’re witty, thorough, and they use a generous amount of hilarious memes. One of my favorite columns that they write is something called “Shit the Dog Snobs Love” where they list their favorite dog products and why. I have tried quite a few of the things on their lists and they have yet to steer me wrong.

So, in the spirit of the Dog Snobs, I’m going to write a similar column, maybe not quite as witty, but I hope that my readers will find this column almost as helpful!

The theme of today’s STUFF MY DOG LOVES is “Stuff for your service dog (and other dogs, too)”

#1: Bold Lead Design Harness

The most important piece of equipment that I use with Daphne when we’re out and about is our Mobility Support Harness from Bold Lead Designs. This is currently the best harness on the market if you are looking for a rigid handle mobility support harness. It looks like this:

Ready to work!

Ready to work!

Katrina over at BLD makes each harness by hand, custom for your dog. It’s made with supple leather and lined with sheepskin. The whole thing weighs in at 3 lbs, including the metal handle (which collapses, by the way), which is the lightest mobility harness you will find. This is extremely important when working a dog that is bearing weight.

The harness is also extremely durable. I’ve had mine for over 18 months, I abuse it daily, I have no clue how to care for leather, and it still looks spectacular on my dog. Not only that, but you can purchase extras for the harness like a pull strap for counterbalance, a banner sign, or even a cape that sits on your dog’s back behind the harness.

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BLD also makes a variety of harnesses for other types of service dogs. They make a guide harness, a basic assistance harness, and a guide/mobility harness.

#2: Mendota Leashes:

How do I love the Mendota snap leashes, let me count the ways…

So pretty…

Not only are these leads spectacularly beautiful in every color, they’re sturdy. Daphne has not only been working almost constantly in her 4′ red Mendota snap leash, she has learned to retrieve a leash using it. It has put up with her pawing it, drooling all over it, tossing it, and finally learning to retrieve it to my hand, and it still looks excellent. These leashes are soft to the touch, waterproof, and colorfast when exposed to UV rays. The leather is tanned using the “English bridle” tanning process. I’m not a horse person, but my leashes have gotten drenched and the leather doesn’t look any worse for the wear. All this and a 1/2″ diameter, 4′ length leash will cost you less than $17.

Service dog users generally like to pick a color for their dog’s gear. Some service dogs, like hearing dogs, have a “standard” color that many of them wear. These leads make it super easy to match your leash to your dog’s collar or gear. I actually have three of these. They’ve never let me down.

#3: EzyDog Neo Collar

The EzyDog Neo Collar is the gold standard in comfort flat collars. I have scoured the internet and have not been able to find a collar that 1) is more comfortable for my dog 2) is able to display the color I want as well and 3) is as durable. The collar is nylon with a neoprene interior. It has a separate, smaller plastic ring for tags to cut down on that annoying jingling sound. It’s also really well priced, ranging from $16-$22, depending on the size. It comes in 8 bold colors.

The collar is odor resistant, waterproof, reflective, and easy to clean. It is my favorite flat collar to work my dog in by far. Daphne wore a red one for a year straight and it looked brand new the entire time. 

#4: Trader Joe’s Beef Recipe Jerky Strips

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Anyone who owns a service dog, whether the dog is from a program or is owner-trained, knows that it’s crucial to constantly be training, proofing, and training some more. Daphne can work out in public without treats, but I always like to carry treats with me in case she does something spectacular. Also, lately we’ve been working on some new tasks that I’m hoping to start working with her in public really soon.

That said, these are my new favorite treats, ever. Trader Joes sells these jerky treats for ridiculously cheap. For $1.99 you get 6 oz, which is a lot more than it sounds. Each strip is about an inch wide and 4.5″ long. The strips are perforated so they’re easy to split into little bites for training purposes.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you will have noticed that there have been a lot of dog deaths associated with jerky treats made abroad (particularly in China). Because of this, when I feed jerky treats, I only feed human-grade jerky or treats made in the USA. These treats are 100% USA made. Not only that, the first 3 ingredients are beef, beef liver, and chicken. Very impressive.

#5: Active Dogs Padded Harness Vest/Active Dogs Neoprene Snap-on Bridge Handle

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If I’m going somewhere where I don’t think I’m going to get a migraine, but I want Daphne in gear just to be sure, I put her in her Active Dogs gear. I use the padded harness vest. I use this vest and the bridge handle mainly for counterbalance (the dog leads and “pulls” forward, providing balance support without bearing weight). With my 24″ tall dog, I’ve found that the 24″ handle gives me a guide harness-type length.

I like my harness vest because it is extremely durable and easy to clean. I usually just run it through a gentle cold wash and then let it air dry. It’s also beautiful. I have yet to see a company create vests with the same professional look and consistency as Active Dogs.

My vest doesn’t slip, but if you have a slimmer dog, this vest may actually slip to the side when the dog is moving. Active dog actually sells a “Chest to girth strap support” that will help to anchor the vest and keep it from slipping.

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