I clean my dog’s paws with this simple, easy-to-use product – it’s made the process less stressful for me and my dog

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MudBuster paw cleaner
My dog is prone to allergies and regularly cleaning his paws with the MudBuster is our best defense against them.

  • The MudBuster makes cleaning my dog’s paws easier and faster.
  • I use the MudBuster to clean my dog’s paws after winter walks and after playtime in the yard.
  • I also use this paw cleaner to regularly rinse his feet to help keep his allergies at bay.

If your dogs are anything like mine, they hate having their paws touched. When my German shepherd Silas comes in from playing in our perpetually muddy yard, he becomes very anxious and hangs his head low as I clean off his muddy paws.

In the past, cleaning his paws meant dirtying towel after towel as I tried to wrangle him. Now that we have a Dexas MudBuster Gentle Paw Washer, cleaning his paws is so much easier – for him and for me.

Other than the fact that it’s important for my floors that Silas’ paws stay clean, it’s important for him as well. “Dog paws can be magnets for intestinal parasites, viruses, and other little nasties as they play in the dog park or even just walk through a field, the yard, or any place dogs [go to the bathroom]. This can lead to an intestinal infection with worms or even parvo when they lick or chew their paws. What better reason to wash your dogs’ paws regularly,” said veterinarian Jason Nicholas, BVMS, of Preventative Vet.

In Silas’ case, he is prone to allergies, especially in the summer and fall, and regularly cleaning his paws is our best defense against them. It also saves us from buying costly allergy medication. Dr. Nichols also emphasized the importance of clean paws for dogs with allergies like Silas. “Keeping them clean can decrease the allergen load, which can irritate the skin or even be ingested by licking or chewing on their paws,” he said.

With the MudBuster, I’m more likely to clean Silas’ paws, and it gets his paws cleaner than I get them with a towel.

How the MudBuster works

The MudBuster looks like a cup but has soft silicone bristles inside to gently clean a dog’s paws. When you’re ready to use it, fill it with warm or cool water. Then, put your dog’s paws in the MudBuster one at a time, gently twisting the container and moving it up and down.

Every dog will react to this product differently, so it’s a good idea to introduce it to them without water in case they try to kick it off. It’s also worth noting that there are techniques for making your dog more comfortable being handled. Silas hates to have his paws touched, but he tolerates the MudBuster pretty well.

If you’re dealing with extremely dirty paws, you’ll want to change out the water between paws, or clean all four and then do a second pass with clean water. If your dog stands on a towel while you’re cleaning their paws, you’ll barely even need to dry them when you’re done.

Dexas MudBuster Portable Dog Paw Cleaner2
The MudBuster is easy to use and clean.

When you’re finished, just dump out the dirty water and rinse the MudBuster with clean water. If your dog’s paws were especially dirty or you’ve been using the MudBuster for a while, you can also take it apart to clean it more thoroughly. Simply take off the lid, pull the silicone bristles out, and clean each piece with soap and water.

The MudBuster isn’t only for cleaning muddy paws. When we take Silas on walks in the winter, the roads and sidewalks are always covered with salt and de-icing chemicals, which dry his pads out. We’ve even dealt with cracked and bleeding paw pads in the past (read more about how to care for dry and cracked paw pads here). Now, we always use the MudBuster after winter walks.

The MudBuster comes in three sizes. Silas is a 95-pound German shepherd, and we use the large size for him. MudBuster recommends the medium for medium breeds such as Australian shepherds, boxers, and English bulldogs, and the small for breeds like dachshunds, Pomeranians, and Yorkies. All three sizes are available in blue, green, or pink.

The MudBuster has made paw cleaning less stressful for me and my dog

The MudBuster never ceases to amaze me, first and most importantly because Silas actually lets me clean his feet with it. When I used to clean his feet with a towel, he jerked and squirmed, and corralling a 95-pound dog isn’t easy.

Now that I use the MudBuster, I can still tell that Silas isn’t completely comfortable, but he doesn’t try to wrestle away from me. It makes coming in from outside less stressful for both of us.

The other way the MudBuster amazes me is simply how well it works. Even when I don’t think his paws are that dirty, the water is always very brown, and there’s often sediment left at the bottom of the container.

The bottom line

If you have a dog that likes to spend time outside, the MudBuster is a worthwhile investment. Even if your dog doesn’t mind having their paws touched, this product still makes cleaning them easier and does a better job than a damp cloth.

As Dr. Nichols said, neglecting your dog’s paws leaves them vulnerable to parasites, viruses, damage from foreign objects, and more. By keeping their paws clean, you’re also protecting your family and keeping your home clean. If this is something you struggle to keep up with, the MudBuster will make this arduous task easier and more convenient.

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21 of the best dog foods in 2021 for puppies, adult dogs, and seniors

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Best dog food brands in 2021
  • There are many excellent dog food brands, but finding the right food for your pet is not so simple.
  • We spoke to veterinarians and an animal nutrition expert who guided us in selecting nutritious dog food.
  • Here are some of the best dog foods, including kibble, canned food, fresh food, and puppy, senior, and grain-free diets.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Choosing a healthy dog food can be an overwhelming process. The brands and formulas we’ve highlighted here are a sampling of the many excellent options available, and each recommendation was evaluated based on standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as well as consultation with veterinary experts. (Products have been independently chosen by us based on our research and years of experience; none were recommended by our experts who maintain impartiality.)

The advice in this guide is tailored to the “average dog” – a sedentary or moderately active dog that is either a healthy weight or slightly overweight, does not have a specific health condition, and is not a working or performance dog. Each dog food was evaluated based on its nutritional adequacy, calorie content, guaranteed analysis, and ingredients.

At the end of this guide, you’ll find complete details on our methodology and the experts we spoke with, as well as information on how to read a pet food label, calculate your dog’s caloric needs, and find a food your dog likes to eat. You can also use this knowledge to evaluate any other brands you might be interested in trying.

Not all dogs are the same, so always consult your veterinarian before introducing new foods to their diets.

Here are 21 of the best dog foods you can buy in 2021

The best adult dry dog food

Dog Food_Adult Dry

Dry dog food is a practical option for many pet owners: It’s cost-effective, has a long shelf life, and is easy to store and serve. Always check a pet food label to ensure the food is AAFCO complete and balanced for your adult dog’s life stage — “maintenance” for adults and “growth” for puppies and pregnant or lactating females. 

For adult dogs, we recommend foods containing moderate protein (the AAFCO minimum is 18% for adults) and low to moderate fat. Pet owners often assume more protein is better since dogs evolved as carnivores, but this is not so, according to Kelly Swanson, PhD, professor of animal and nutritional sciences at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Domestic dogs are actually omnivorous and do not require extremely high protein concentrations in their diet. “From a pet health perspective, the protein quality and digestibility are most important,” he said.

When shopping for dog food, look for meat sources of protein such as whole meats and meat meals at the top of the ingredients list. Complementary proteins like rice and beans may also be included. Swanson likes to see fat concentrations below 20%, although he doesn’t get too concerned about fat content for healthy-weight pets who do not have conditions like pancreatitis or gastrointestinal disease.

Veterinarian W. Jean Dodds, owner of Hemopet Holistic Care Veterinary Clinic, looks for a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods on the list. These include high quality meats or fish, some carbohydrates, a mixture of vegetables, and some fruit, including berries. 

Many foods also contain extra ingredients like omega fatty acids for skin and coat health, probiotics for digestion, and glucosamine, chondroitin, and green-lipped mussels for joint support.

Our picks for adult dry dog food:

The best adult wet dog food

Dog Food_Wet Food

Wet food is particularly appealing to dogs. Pet parents often like it for this reason, and because it has a long shelf life when unopened. 

We selected wet foods that meet AAFCO complete and balanced standards, which are the same as those that apply to dry food. However, wet food generally contains more protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian before switching your dog to a wet diet, especially if they have trouble digesting a lot of protein or fat.

Although the same standards apply to dry and wet food, it can be hard to compare their labels. Kibble has very little moisture, while canned food contains a lot of water. To understand a wet food label, you need to look at the percentages of protein, fat, and fiber on a “dry matter basis.” Read these instructions from the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University to calculate them yourself, call the food manufacturer, or ask your veterinarian for help. For the foods below, we contacted the manufacturer.

When shopping, be on the lookout for wet dog food that is 100% meat. More protein might seem like a good thing, but these foods are for supplemental feeding only. “Dogs have evolved from wolves to become obligate omnivores,” said Dodds. This means that they need more than just meat in their diet. Small amounts of meat-only wet foods can make tasty meal toppers for your dog’s complete and balanced dry food.

Our picks for adult wet dog food:

The best fresh dog food

Dog Food_Fresh Food

Fresh dog food is minimally processed, made with wholesome ingredients, often without preservatives, and cooked a short time before your dog eats it. All this means fresh dog food is some of the most expensive food you can buy.

Some dog food companies cook fresh, individually customized food and ship it directly to your door, usually via a subscription. It must be stored in the freezer, thawed in the refrigerator, and fed within a few days of opening the package. 

Always check that the fresh food you plan to feed your dog is AAFCO complete and balanced and not intended for supplemental feeding. Most companies tailor the calorie content of the meals to your specific dog based on weight, breed, and activity level. 

When choosing a healthy fresh dog food, look for the same beneficial ingredients you would for any dog food: meat sources of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, marine sources of fat, and healthy extras like omega fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and probiotics.

Our picks for fresh dog food:

The best budget dog food

Dog Food_Budget

The phrase “you get what you pay for” holds true for dog food. Food made from organic, non-GMO, or human-grade ingredients comes with a premium price tag. 

The good news is, it’s not necessary to go broke to feed your dog a great diet. If you’re looking to spend less, many high-quality dog foods provide excellent nutrition at a lower cost. 

We don’t advise buying the cheapest food available — to keep the price down, such foods contain lower-quality ingredients and more fillers. As with any diet, choose the appropriate food for your dog’s life stage and check for the AAFCO complete and balanced statement on the label.

Our picks for budget dog food:

The best grain-free dog food

Dog Food_Grain Free

Grain-free diets aren’t necessarily superior to diets that contain grains, but they can be helpful for dogs that are allergic or intolerant to specific grains. There is also a misconception that these dog foods are carbohydrate-free, but the necessary carbohydrates just come from non-grain ingredients like white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and tapioca.

Something worth mentioning in any discussion about grain-free food is the fact that the FDA continues to investigate a potential link between dogs fed grain-free diets and the development of a heart condition called non-hereditary dilated cardiomyopathy. For now, no firm correlation between grain-free diets and cardiac issues has been scientifically supported. However, it’s possible we may discover more in the future. Always talk to your veterinarian about feeding your dog a grain-free diet.

Our picks for grain-free dog food:

The best dry puppy food

Dog Food_Puppy

Puppy foods are formulated to be energy-dense, which means they are higher in fat and calories to fuel growing bodies. 

To ensure the food you’re considering is appropriate for puppies, check the label for an AAFCO complete and balanced statement that says it’s intended for growth for all life stages. A food labeled “maintenance” is only intended for adult dogs.

Some puppy foods are made specially for small breeds or large and giant breeds, but there aren’t any official AAFCO nutrient standards for these designations. “Balancing the nutrient needs of dogs given their wide size variety and ages is wise and common sense,” said Dodds.

Small breed puppy foods usually have a smaller kibble size for smaller mouths and are often slightly higher in calories to account for the higher metabolisms of these breeds. Puppy foods for large and giant breeds generally contain more protein; less fat; fewer calories; and an ideal balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to encourage slower growth to support joint health and prevent obesity.

Our picks for puppy food:

The best dry senior dog food

Dog Food_Senior Dog

Senior diets are intended for the unique needs of older dogs. “Senior diets are formulated to target some of the common ailments of older pets, such as joint health, digestive health, immune health, and possibly others,” said Swanson. 

These diets may contain higher amounts of protein, higher quality protein to maintain muscle, fiber to aid in fecal elimination, additional antioxidants to limit oxidative stress and aid in immune response, and additional omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive performance.

Since older dogs are often less active, these diets typically contain fewer calories. Some foods are also lower in protein, but contrary to popular belief, healthy senior dogs may actually benefit from more protein than younger adult dogs. If your dog does not have health conditions, look for a senior diet that is lower in fat and calories and contains extra protein — the AAFCO minimum protein for adult dogs is 18%.

Our picks for senior dog food:

Our methodology

I’ve been fortunate to interview many veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists throughout my 20-year career writing and editing for pet and veterinary publications, and I’ve fed my own dog many different dog food brands. 

For advice on what to look for in a healthy dog food and what to avoid, I consulted two veterinarians and a professor of animal and nutritional science. Although this information guided me in my product selection, our veterinary experts did not specifically endorse any of the products included in this guide. This makes sense since a veterinarian’s goal is to find a food that best fits each individual dog, rather than making broad recommendations. 

All the foods mentioned in this guide are complete and balanced according to the guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), contain high-quality ingredients, and offer appropriate levels of protein, fat, and fiber for their respective categories. 

I also consulted educational materials from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Global Nutrition Guidelines published by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

Here are the main attributes we looked for, in order of importance:

AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement: The most important benchmark of a healthy dog food is a statement on the label that says it meets the nutritional standards established by the AAFCO, demonstrating that the food is complete and balanced for the dog’s life stage. All foods mentioned in this guide are AAFCO complete and balanced. Read more about those standards and definitions in the next slide.

Guaranteed analysis: The guaranteed analysis lists the percentages of the most vital nutrients in the food: protein, fat, fiber, and moisture. Sometimes, other nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids are also listed in the guaranteed analysis. Foods selected in this guide contain moderate to high protein (AAFCO minimums are 22% for puppies and 18% for adults) and low to moderate fat (AAFCO minimums are 8.5% for puppies and 5.5% for adults).

Ingredients list: The ingredients list can be tricky to navigate, especially when taking water content into account, but in general, you want to see clearly identified animal sources of protein at the top of the list. Whole meat is great, but it is heavier due to its moisture content. Once that water is removed, the meat content might not be as high as you think. Don’t automatically write off meat meals. High-quality meat meals can be an excellent source of protein — the water has been removed, so they may provide more protein than whole meat. The ingredients lists of all the foods in this guide contain animal sources of protein at the top of the list.

Healthy extras: According to Swanson, some foods contain extra ingredients intended to support healthy skin, coat, and joints. Some of these may include additional long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA; usually supplied by marine-based oils or meals), omega-6 fatty acids (safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, flaxseed, etc.), glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussels, and additional vitamins (vitamin A, biotin) and minerals (zinc, copper). Probiotics, prebiotics, and yeast fermentation products may also boost gut health.

Calorie content: The calorie content of dog food is listed in kilocalories, or k/cals. When dogs consume too many calories, they are at risk for becoming overweight or obese. Less-active dogs need fewer calories and very active dogs like performance or working dogs need a food that is more calorie dense. For most dogs, being able to eat the largest volume of food while staying within the ideal daily calorie range will help them feel more satisfied. In general, such foods rated higher in our selection process. Check out this calorie calculator to determine how many calories your dog needs. Your veterinarian can also evaluate if the amount you’re feeding is appropriate.

Feeding trials: It’s great if a food has undergone feeding trials in addition to a laboratory analysis of the food’s ingredients. If the nutritional adequacy statement on the label has language like “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [product] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage]” it means the food has been proven via feeding trials to be palatable, digestible, and able sustain pets over time.  

Expert formulations: Choose a pet food manufacturer that works closely with a veterinary nutritionist or other professional with a master’s degree or PhD in nutrition, animal science, or a related field. Manufacturers may employ one or more full-time nutritionists, or hire one or more nutrition consultants. For this guide, we prioritized brands that have a dedicated nutrition expert on staff to align with WSAVA recommendations.

Next-level ingredients: Seeing natural, organic, or human-grade ingredients on the label is nice, especially if you believe in the health benefits of organic foods. Wild-caught fish are as natural as you can get and, unlike farmed fish, are not treated with antibiotics or medications. Some foods use eggs and meat from cage-free chickens and turkeys, which is a bonus if you care about the welfare of the animals you — and your pets — eat. That said, ingredients in dog food need not be human-grade, organic, wild-caught, or cage-free to be healthy and nutritious for pets.

AAFCO standards

The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a private nonprofit corporation that defines ingredients and establishes nutritional profiles for animal feed and pet food. AAFCO establishes model language for states and other governing bodies. It does not regulate, test, approve, or certify pet food. The US Food and Drug Administration, which is a voting member of AAFCO, regulates pet food labels at the federal level. States also regulate pet foods, and most have adopted the model pet food regulations established by AAFCO.

Dog foods that meet the nutritional standards established by AAFCO may use a statement on the label that says the food is complete and balanced for the dog’s life stage according to the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile. There are three life stages: 1) maintenance, for adult dogs more than 1 year old, 2) growth, for puppies less than 1 year old, and which also includes pregnant and lactating females, and 3) all life stages, which is any dog of any age.

Foods that do not display language asserting that they are complete and balanced as determined by AAFCO standards are labeled for supplemental or intermittent feeding only. Those foods should never be a dog’s sole diet as they are not nutritionally adequate.

Foods can meet AAFCO standards in two ways:

  1. Guaranteed analysis: Nutrient profiles are determined through laboratory analysis of the food. Foods that meet AAFCO standards as per nutrient profiles will display language like “formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for [life stage].” You can always contact the company to confirm the nutrient profile of the food also meets nutritional levels established by the AAFCO.
  2. Feeding trials: Pet foods can also meet the standards through feeding trials, where the food is fed to animals under controlled conditions and the outcomes are monitored. Feeding trials are not perfect, and they are also very expensive, so not all companies perform them. However, it’s nice to see them, though they should not replace nutrient profiles. If you see language like Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [product] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage]” it means the food has been proven via feeding trials to be palatable, digestible, and able sustain pets over time.

How to read a pet food label

Dog Food_Read Pet Food Label

Dog food packages feature attractive images and targeted descriptions intended to sell you on the quality and healthfulness of the food, but if you really want to know whether a dog food is high quality and a good choice for your dog, learn what to look for on the label.

A great place to start is this handy reference from the WSAVA about interpreting food labels. The most important information to look for on a label is the AAFCO complete and balanced statement, the guaranteed analysis (crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and moisture), and the calorie content statement.

The ingredients list is also important, but it can be difficult for the average pet owner to know how well their dog will do on a diet just based off the ingredients.

“Although many pet owners make their decision based largely on the ingredient panel, it is only one of many considerations,” Swanson said. “Without knowing the exact formula and percentage of each ingredient, it is not too useful. What is more important is that the dietary formula is complete and balanced.”

Certain terms on pet food labels can be confusing and even misleading. “Terms like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are very common in the industry today,” Swanson said. “While both terms were intended to highlight higher quality ingredients, they do not guarantee high quality.” He explained that quality depends on both the raw ingredients and good manufacturing practices. “Like other ingredients that do not carry these terms, they are highly variable due to differences in soil quality (plants), feed quality (animals), ingredient storage, ingredient handling, etc.,” he said.

If you find reading pet food labels confusing, your veterinarian can talk to you about your dog’s individual needs, help you choose an appropriate food, and advise how much to feed.

FAQs about dog food

FAQs about dog food

What is the best food I can feed my dog?

It’s important to find a food your dog likes eating and thrives on, but this may involve a bit of trial and error. Individual dogs digest food differently. Some dogs do better with more protein, some need less. Some dogs can tolerate higher levels of fat; others need less. Dogs also handle amounts of fiber differently. Your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist can help you sort out what diet will work best for your dog.

“Dogs are individuals,” said veterinarian Carol Osborne, of the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. “What works well for Dog A, might not work well for Dog B. If you want to know if a food is good for your pet, look at your pet. Your pet is a reflection of what he or she is eating.”

Outward signs of good health include clear eyes and nose, ears that aren’t smelly, and a coat that isn’t dry, flakey, or shedding excessively. Your dog should not be vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. “Soft stool is not normal,” Osborne said. “Bowel movements should be formed and homogenous. You should not be able to make out the pea, the piece of corn, the carrot. [Homogenous stool] means the food has all been digested.”

What is human-grade dog food?

Pet foods that use the term “human-grade” must follow strict rules. The term may only be used if it applies to the finished food as a whole — not individual ingredients. Both the ingredients and finished product must be documented to be stored, handled, processed, and transported according to the current good manufacturing practices for human-edible foods, and the label must clearly state that the food is intended for dogs.

Swanson has tested a few human-grade pet foods in his lab over the years. “While I don’t have a strong preference to any one type or brand of diet, I can say that the human-grade foods I have had experience with are highly palatable, highly digestible, and resulted in a low volume of stool that allowed for easy clean up,” he said.

Is a raw diet good for my dog?

A raw diet consists of uncooked meat, bones, and vegetables. Raw pet food poses dangers to both dogs and humans. Veterinarians told Insider Reviews that despite some reported benefits, there are too many risks for pets, including bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies, and injuries from bones in the food. In addition, people who are immunocompromised, elderly people, and young children are at risk of bacterial infections if they live in a household where a dog is fed a raw diet. For more information, read the statements from the FDA and CDC regarding the health and safety risks of feeding raw dog foods.

Our sources

  • Dr. Kelly S. Swanson MS, PhD, is a professor of animal and nutritional sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. Dr. Swanson’s lab conducts research on nutrition-related problems like obesity and intestinal health. Dr. Swanson is the Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor in Human Nutrition.
  • Jean Dodds, DVM, obtained her veterinary degree from Ontario Veterinary College. A clinical research veterinarian for more than 50 years, Dr. Dodds has more than 150 research publications. She is the founder of Hemopet, the first nonprofit national animal blood bank. Dr. Dodds is the developer of NutriScan, a food sensitivity and intolerance diagnostic test for dogs, cats and horses. She co-authored two books with Diana Laverdure, The Canine Thyroid Epidemic: Answers You Need for Your Dog (Dogwise, 2011) and Canine Nutrigenomics: Foods that Heal Your Dog (Dogwise, 2015).
  • Carol Osborne, DVM, is founder and director of the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She is author of the books Naturally Healthy Cats (Marshall, 2006) and Naturally Healthy Dogs (Marshall, 2006) and hosts a weekly National Pet Talk AM radio show broadcast. Dr. Osborne has appeared on Good Day L.A. and Today in New York, where she was the on-camera staff veterinarian.
  • Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) 
  • World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Global Nutrition Guidelines 
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The 5 best dog buttons to teach your pet to communicate in 2021

  • Speech pathologists use recordable buttons to communicate with nonverbal individuals.
  • These buttons that record and play sound can also help a dog to communicate their needs and wants.
  • We chose the best dog buttons, including budget and light-up versions.

Cognitive scientists and speech pathologists use pressable buttons – each representing an action, place, or object – to communicate with nonverbal individuals. Dogs can use the method, too. By pressing buttons onto which a word or sound has been recorded, a dog can learn to “speak” in simple phrases like “play” and “outside.” Give them enough buttons and they can communicate their thoughts on almost everything. Get started with a beginner’s set of four to six buttons. For this guide, we’ve selected the best options, including budget, fully customizable, and light-up versions.

Here are the best dog buttons in 2021

The best dog buttons overall

Fluent Pet Get Started Kit dog buttons
A dog button system developed by a cognitive scientist

Fluent Pet’s Get Started Kit comes with six buttons and three nonslip tiles for organizing words and actions.

What we like: Fully customizable, comes with tiles to keep buttons organized, batteries included

Fluent Pet’s Get Started Kit was designed by a cognitive scientist to foster better communication between verbal and nonverbal individuals. The battery-operated system works for dogs, too, as proven by two canine learners, Bunny and Stella, who have amassed hundreds of thousands of social media followers. The kit comes with everything you need to teach your dog to “talk,” including six buttons that have microphones for recording words and 67 stickers to identify the buttons visually. The buttons fit into three nonslip hexagonal tiles: one for actions, one for objects, and one for places. The tiles can be put together in multiple configurations and easily disassembled or added to. The kit arrives ready-to-use with batteries and a starter guide.

The best budget dog buttons

learning resources dog buttons
Budget-friendly buttons that speech pathologists use to communicate with nonverbal individuals

Learning Resources Recordable Answer Buzzers are an affordable way to begin teaching a dog to use their words.

What we like: Includes four buttons in different colors, easy to press, comes with activity guide

Learning Resources Recordable Answer Buzzers, a tool that speech pathologists use to communicate with nonverbal individuals, are an affordable way to begin teaching a dog to “talk.” The set comes with four easy-to-press 3-inch-diameter buttons in four different colors. Each button is powered by two AAA batteries and can record up to seven seconds of sound. Batteries are not included, but the set arrives with an activity guide to help you get started.

The best customizable dog buttons

talking tiles dog buttons
A set that can be fully customized with sound and pictures

Talking Products Talking Tiles are fully customizable with transparent covers and up to 80 seconds of recording time.

What we like: Fully customizable, can record sound using a computer or smartphone, includes six buttons in different colors

The six buttons included in Talking Products Talking Tiles can be fully customized with audio messages and images. Each 4-inch-wide hexagonal button holds up to 80 seconds of audio recorded with a built-in microphone or via a smartphone or computer using the audio-input jack. Further customize each button by adding a picture or symbol underneath the transparent cover. Each button runs on three AAA batteries, which must be purchased separately.

The best light-up dog buttons

Ritioner's Learning Answer Buzzers dog buttons
An excellent choice for dogs who are hard of hearing

Ritioner’s Learning Answer Buzzers play sound and light up simultaneously each time they are pressed.

What we like: Light-up buttons, easy to press, records up to 30 seconds of sound

Ritioner’s Learning Answer Buzzers are durable plastic buttons that glow with LED light when pressed. While this feature can be a useful cue for teaching any dog to communicate, it’s especially helpful for those who are hard of hearing. For hearing dogs, these four differently colored, easy-to-press buttons can also record up to 30 seconds of sound. Each buzzer runs on two AAA batteries, which are sold separately.

The best potty button

Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0
An indoor or outdoor potty button with 38 bell tones and 4 volume settings

The Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0 works indoors or out so your dog can communicate when they need to potty or when they want to come in.

What we like: Easy to press, 38 customizable bell tones, can be used indoors or out, 90-day money-back guarantee

Teach your dog how to communicate when they need to go outside with the Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0. The bell consists of a plug-in receiver and an easy-to-press activator button. The 2-inch-diameter wireless activator button can be placed anywhere within 1,000 feet of the receiver using a 3M adhesive strip. The water-resistant button can even be placed outside for dogs who need to let you know when they’re ready to come in. To adjust the sound of the bell, choose from four volumes and 38 different ring tones. The Mighty Paw Smart Bell also comes with a training guide to help you get started and a self-charging battery is built into the device.

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The 6 best wild bird seeds and food of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Different species of birds have different preferences when it comes to seeds. If you offer the wrong type, you likely won’t have many feathered visitors. This is a frequent problem if you fill your feeders with the least expensive “Wild Bird Seed Blend” on supermarket shelves, which generally include unfavorable milo and millet seed.

We rounded up the best bird seeds preferred by certain bird species, like bluebirds, cardinals, and finches. Be sure to do some research to learn which birds native to your region so you can buy the right seed to raise your chances of spotting some beautiful new backyard visitors.

To maintain freshness, it’s important to store your bag of seeds in a dry, cool, and dark place when not offered to birds outside. Make sure to clean your bird feeders weekly, too.

Here are the best bird seeds and food of 2021

The best wild bird seed overall

bird seed

Valley Splendor contains black oil sunflower seeds, which most wild birds love, and it’s also affordable enough to keep your feeders full. 

Pros: Appeals to a large variety of birds, reasonable price, works with different types of feeders

Cons: Dropped shells make a mess, attracts squirrels

Available quantities: 2-, 5-, 10-, 20-, and 40-pound bags

Black oil sunflower seeds are smaller and have thinner shells than ones offered for human snacking. Because of this, even small birds are able to crack them open.

Fill your hopper, tube, platform, or hanging feeder with Valley Splendor Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, and you’ll soon have crowds of various birds visiting your yard. Some species you may see include chickadees, finches, titmice, jays, grosbeaks, cardinals, sparrows, and doves.

Though dropped shells can become messy and the seeds may attract squirrels, these two downsides are relatively common among bird seed.

The best wild bird seed mix

bird seed

If you want a mix that will attract a wide variety of birds, Wagner’s Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food offers an excellent medley.

Pros: Attracts a wide variety of birds

Cons: Contains some less popular types of seed, appeals to squirrels

Available quantities: 6- or 16-pound bag

With lots of black oil sunflower, along with striped sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, white millet, red millet, cracked corn, red milo, nyjer, peanut kernels, canary seed, and safflower, Wagner’s Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food is a buffet for finches, chickadees, cardinals, jays, titmice, sparrows, woodpeckers, and juncos alike.

You can fill your hopper, platform, or hanging bird feeder for the most visitors, or scatter some on a ground feeder for doves and other scavenging birds. Like our best overall pick, Wagner’s may also attract squirrels.

Wagner’s Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food Mix does contain some less-popular or frequently wasted seed, but the majority of the seeds are crowd-pleasers. 

The best no-mess wild bird seed

bird seed

Lyric Sunflower Kernels are pre-shelled so you won’t find a mess of discarded seed casings underneath your feeder. 

Pros: No shells to make a mess, little wasted seed, appeals to a wide range of birds

Cons: Attracts squirrels, can spoil easily if the seed gets wet

Available quantities: 5- or 25-pound bag

Birds tend to drop shells to the ground and kick undesired seeds out of the feeder, but Lyric’s Sunflower Kernels feed combats this issue with already-shelled seeds that will leave your backyard clean.

This bird seed only contains pure sunflower seed pieces and, because sunflower seed is so popular with so many species of birds, it’s unlikely you’ll have leftover or wasted seed.

The one caveat to these kernels is that they’ll easily spoil if they become wet, so be sure to store them in a dry place. These seeds also attract squirrels, so you may not have much wasted seed left in your feeder anyway.

Fill your hopper, tube, platform, or ground feeder with the sunflower kernels, and enjoy watching finches, titmice, sparrows, grosbeaks, buntings, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, doves, and other favorite species gather for the feast.

Editor’s note: This item is temporarily out of stock. We will continue to update inventory.

The best wild bird seed to attract finches

bird seed

If you love small songbirds like the American goldfinch, fill your feeders with Wagner’s Nyjer Seed Premium Wild Bird Food and listen to their happy singing.

Pros: Appeals to small songbirds, little waste, won’t sprout if it falls to the ground

Cons: Spoils easily, can be messy

Available quantities: 2-, 5- 10-, 20-, or 50-pound bag

Tiny black nyjer seed — also called thistle seed — is a favorite among small songbirds, including the beautiful yellow, black, and white American goldfinch. Wagner’s Nyjer Seed Premium Wild Bird Food also attracts house finches, purple finches, redpolls, indigo buntings, and pine siskins.

Because the seed is so small, it’s generally served out of thistle feeders or sock feeders specifically designed to dispense seeds without allowing larger “bully” birds to hog all the food.

Small songbirds can easily pull the nyjer seeds out of the feeder’s small ports or mesh, but larger birds can’t get a grip or perch, so give up in frustration.

Since nyjer spoils fairly easily and can be somewhat messy, it’s best to only provide enough for birds to eat within a day or so.

The best wild bird seed to attract cardinals

bird seed

Northern cardinals will fly to your feeder full of Kaytee Safflower Seed, as it includes the breed’s much-loved seed: safflower. 

Pros: Attracts cardinals and other strong-beaked birds, squirrels generally leave it alone

Cons: Appeals to a smaller variety of birds than other seed types, messy shells drop under the feeder

Available quantity: 5-pound bag

If you live in the eastern half of the United States, you can have northern cardinals regularly visit your backyard. The bright red plumage of the male cardinal is so distinctive that you don’t need birding knowledge to recognize it. Females aren’t as brightly colored but are still beautiful with yellow-gray bodies and soft brown tails and wings.

While cardinals are happy to dine on several types of bird seed, they go crazy for safflower. That’s why filling your hopper, platform, or hanging feeder with Kaytee Safflower Seed is likely to bring them calling. Other common birds that like safflower include grosbeaks, jays, and woodpeckers.

Because safflower seeds have thick shells, many other backyard birds will pass them by. You may find discarded shells under your feeder, which is common with miniature seeds such as these. And, wonderfully enough, squirrels will typically leave safflower seed alone.

The best wild bird food to attract bluebirds

bird seed

If you want to attract bluebirds to your yard, you’ll need to skip the seed and tempt them with freeze-dried Kaytee Mealworms Wild Bird Food.

Pros: Appeals to bluebirds and other insect-eating species

Cons: None

Available quantity: 17.6-ounce bag

Bluebirds don’t eat a lot of seeds and prefer insects or other high-protein foods instead. Kaytee Mealworms Wild Bird Food appeals to eastern, western, and mountain bluebirds, as well as cardinals, robins, wrens, and woodpeckers.

Mealworms are derived from beetle larvae. Since they are freeze-dried — as opposed to alive — most people find it easy to add them to their feeders.

While the worms are an excellent food source for bluebirds all year round, they are especially appreciated during the spring nesting season, when the parent birds need extra food for their young.

These mealworms are perfect for a platform or hanging tray. Don’t pour out too much at once, as these are a supplement to the bluebirds’ diet, not a mainstay. 

Check out our other birdwatcher buying guides

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Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best dog raincoats in 2021, according to professional dog walkers and our testing

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • We consulted five professional dog walkers to find out what’s most important in a dog raincoat.
  • According to our experts, the best dog raincoats have belly coverage and put function over style.

Many dogs hate rain. Even those with fur thick enough to protect them from stinging cold rain hate the stuff, let alone those with little to no fur. In my decade of experience as a professional dog trainer, I’ve found a raincoat is a necessity for getting many a dog out for a walk on rainy days and saving them from total wet-dog misery.

To learn about what features to look for in a dog raincoat, we went straight to the professional dog walkers who spend their days in weather of all types. With their preferences and criteria in mind, we came up with a list of 11 jackets to test. Our choice for best overall dog raincoat, the Ruffwear Sun Shower Rain Jacket, not only provides waterproof coverage for the whole body, its nylon exterior helps to prevent mud from collecting on its surface.

Here are the best dog raincoats in 2021

Updated on 3/26/2021: We rewrote this guide after extensive research, expert interviews, and testing.

The best raincoat overall

Ruffwear Sun Shower Dog Raincoat

The Ruffwear Sun Shower Dog Raincoat has all of the features a dog needs to stay dry and none of the less-functional features they don’t.

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective piping for visibility, mud repellent, multiple sizes, machine washable

Cons: Harness must be worn over the jacket, limited color options

The vest-style Ruffwear Sun Shower Dog Raincoat keeps dogs dry in both summer showers and winter storms.

Two of the experts we consulted — Fern De Santos, owner of A Dog’s Life HTX in Houston, and Matthew Condrin, owner of Urban Canines in San Francisco — love Ruffwear’s canine apparel. Our testing confirmed its quality.

The Sun Shower has a number of elements De Santos looks for in a dog rain jacket. First off, the lightweight jacket is unlined and uninsulated, so it can be worn in warm weather or layered with a sweater in colder temperatures. The vest-style raincoat slips over the head and buckles on either side of the belly, providing good coverage from puddle splashes and mud. It also has a wide collar and reflective piping to keep pups visible in low light.

In our cleaning test, the Sun Shower did better than most in preventing mud from clinging to the exterior fabric. When machine washed and hung to dry, it came out completely clean.

The only thing we don’t like is that there’s no hole at the back to attach a leash or harness. It is low profile enough, however, to put a harness on over top.

While it’s not as affordable as some of the jackets we considered, the Sun Shower is a great price for the quality and durability Ruffwear is known for.

The best budget raincoat

blueberry pet dog raincoat

The affordable Blueberry Pet Two-Legged Reflective Dog Raincoat has significant belly coverage and reflective piping to keep your pup dry and visible in wet weather.

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective piping for visibility, four points of adjustment, mud repellent, comes with carry sack, multiple sizes

Cons: Hooded, dogs who are sensitive to handling may have difficulty with fitted legs, handwash only, limited color options

Blueberry Pet’s Two-Legged Reflective Dog Raincoat is proof that excellent canine rain gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This lightweight polyester jacket repelled mud better than all but one of the other raincoats we tested.

It protects a dog’s undercarriage, including the front legs and chest, a feature most of the walkers look for. It also comes in a four-legged version, which may be better for extremely wet climates or dogs who need extra warmth.

This raincoat fastens from neck to ribs with a Velcro closure and has four points of drawstring adjustment. Its hood may seem functional, but it’s something our experts avoid. “They annoy the dogs by sometimes covering their eyes and interfere with leashing — plus they rarely stay up,” said Condrin.

The Blueberry Pet Raincoat also has reflective piping and accents, a hole at the back for attaching a leash to a harness, and elastic straps that can be used to keep the end of the jacket in place while walking. We found it wiped completely clean just using a dry cloth. After handwashing, it dried quickly and looked brand new. When not in use, it can be packed into its drawstring stuff sack and stashed away.

The best raincoat for small breeds

Canada Pooch Torrential Tracker

The Torrential Tracker’s size range, combined with a slim fit and a soft lining, make this the ideal rain jacket to keep little dogs from getting soaked.  

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective trim for visibility, comes in 11 sizes, machine washable

Cons: Runs a little small, collects mud easily, only two colors available

Finding a raincoat that fits a small dog without overwhelming them with too much fabric can be a challenge. But at Canada Pooch, where the Torrential Tracker Raincoat is made in sizes as short as 7 inches long, the science of canine apparel is an art.

The Torrential Tracker is made from a slick waterproof polyester reminiscent of classic, ducky-yellow children’s rain gear. It has holes for the front legs and a double Velcro closure that runs from chest to ribs, a feature that Leah King, owner of Happy Tramps in San Francisco prefers. “Velcro closures at the neck and chest make it easy to get a custom fit and to take the jacket on and off without sliding anything over their head,” she said.

An expandable collar can provide extra coverage for the back of the neck. Inside, the jacket’s soft fabric lining helps keep a pup toasty in cold weather. The material is less breathable than some of the raincoats we considered and may be a bit warm for summer storms.

The jacket also has a hole at the back for connecting a leash to a harness and two small pockets at the hind end for stashing poop bags or an ID. The lower portion of the jacket is trimmed in reflective piping. The Torrential Tracker is machine washable, which is ideal since mud spread on it quite easily.

While the length of the jacket we tested is as advertised, it has a tighter fit than other jackets of the same size. If you have a dog with a broad chest or who’s packing some extra pounds, definitely size up.

The best raincoat for freezing rain

Teckelklub Winter Trench Waterproof Dog Coat

With its highly functional design, the fleece-lined Teckelklub Winter Trench Waterproof Dog Coat will protect dogs of all shapes and sizes  from cold, wind, and rain.

Pros: Waterproof, reflective trim for visibility, fleece lined, multiple sizes and color options, machine washable, dryer-safe

Cons: Partial belly coverage, harness must be worn over the jacket, collects mud easily

When rain comes with a healthy dose of wind and cold, the fleece-lined Teckelklub Winter Trench Waterproof Dog Coat keeps dogs not just dry, but warm too.

King is a fan of the Teckelklub Winter Trench, which has a simple wraparound design with a broad collar. The jacket fastens with Velcro at the neck and with a wide strap under the belly. While that’s the only belly coverage it provides, it is a good option for sensitive dogs because it does not need to be slipped over the head or legs. “Some jackets have a pullover design and many dogs are not comfortable putting them on,” explained Jeff Chebul, owner of Ranger’s Squadron in San Francisco.

The raincoat is made from 100% waterproof nylon and the entire perimeter is trimmed in 3M reflective piping. It does not have a hole at the back for attaching a leash to a harness, but the jacket is slim-fitting enough for one to be worn on top.

Although this raincoat collected a significant amount of mud, it easily wiped clean, and after machine washing and hanging it to dry, it came out looking brand new. It will also stand up to machine drying in low heat.

It can be embroidered with a monogram or your dog’s name or phone number for an additional $15.

The best raincoat for wet outdoor adventures

Best dog raincoats in 2021

The Hurtta Monsoon Coat provides full coverage and freedom of movement for all-day adventures in the rain.

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective trim for visibility, three points of adjustability, many sizes, machine washable

Cons: Limited color options

Hurtta’s Monsoon Coat will keep weekend warriors comfortable and dry no matter what the weather has in store. The brand  is expert at producing jackets that won’t compromise movement or weigh down an athletic pup. 

The Monsoon Coat has the most coverage of any of the raincoats we tested, with the exception of the brand’s Rain Blocker, and the collar is built with a flexible rain trap that prevents water from seeping in. Drawstrings adjust the fit at the collar, shoulders, and hips. The wraparound buckle design allows adjustment around the belly and elastic leg loops at the back end hold the jacket in place. While getting the jacket properly fitted can be a bit of a hassle, De Santos said it’s worth it for the great coverage.

This jacket has reflective accents from head to tail and a covered loop for attaching a leash to a harness worn underneath. It did a good job repelling mud and cleaned up well with machine washing and air-drying. It also comes in four colors, including an ECO version made from soft recycled material.

With far more coverage than our overall best pick, the Ruffwear Sun Shower, the Monsoon Coat will keep a dog’s entire torso dry even after multiple hours hiking in the rain without restricting movement. While this jacket is among the most expensive we tested, it’s extremely durable and likely to last a lifetime.

What else we considered

dog rain jackets

With the help of the professional dog walkers we consulted, we narrowed down the crowded field of dog raincoats to to 11 options. Here’s why six of them failed to make the cut:

RC Pets Packable Rain Poncho: Fontaine likes pairing this affordable, lightweight rain poncho with a doggy sweater for cool, wet weather. It performed well in our tests, drying more quickly and collecting mud less easily than most other brands. It was its lack of belly coverage,  that kept it from the top spot in our budget raincoat category.

Pepper Pet Wear Basset Hound Dog Raincoat: This customizable rain jacket is meant for dogs with unique proportions such as long bodies and broad chests. The custom design and high-quality fabrics made this one of the two most expensive jackets we tested. Unfortunately, the jacket didn’t quite fit when it arrived, but the brand will make additional alterations free of charge.

Wildebeest All Weather Dog Jacket: Although attractively designed and lined with soft microfleece, this jacket was not completely waterproof and had minimal belly coverage. In our soak test, water seeped through a strip of webbing that runs along the spine and moistened the interior lining.

Ruffwear Vert Dog Jacket: This is another great rain jacket by Ruffwear. The fit is similar to the Ruffwear Sun Shower but with the addition of warm fleece lining, a leash hole, and elastic loops for the back legs. But the Vert is significantly more expensive than our other fleece-lined option, the Teckelklub Winter Trench, and it requires slipping the jacket over the head, which may trouble handling-sensitive dogs.

Hurtta Rain Blocker ECO Raincoat: This waterproof jacket made from recycled plastic bottles provides excellent coverage of the chest, belly, and front legs and comes in 10 sizes with several points of adjustment. Its design, which includes leg holes and a long zipper down the side, made it a major challenge to get on and off.  

Kurgo Portsmouth Foul Weather Rain Jacket: I liked the design of Kurgo’s rain jacket which, like Ruffwear’s Sun Shower, is a vest style with buckles on either side of the belly. But by the end of the testing period this jacket had gone from looking brand new to shabby. 

What we are looking forward to

Some of the raincoats identified by our experts or in our research as possible contenders for this guide did not arrive in time to be included. We look forward to testing the following jackets in the future.

WeatherBeeta 300D Deluxe Reflective Jacket: This waterproof jacket wraps around the chest and belly to protect a dog from water and mud. It comes in 12 sizes, from 10- to 32-inches long, and two bright colors accented with reflective material.

Petcee Waterproof Dog Jacket: This ultra-affordable raincoat is lined with fleece and covers both the chest and belly. Built-in elastic helps to assure the right fit in 13 sizes.

How we tested

testing dog rain jackets

We tested 11 different raincoats based on recommendations from professional dog walkers. The jackets were provided as review samples by their manufacturers, with the exception of the Blueberry Pet, Canada Pooch, Pepper Pet, Wildebeest, and Teckelclub coats, which Insider purchased.

Due to dry weather and COVID-19 restrictions, I was unable to test these jackets on dogs of multiple shapes and sizes in real rainy weather. Instead, I came up with a few tests to simulate the rainy conditions. 

Fit test: I was able to verify the measurements of each by assessing their length from shoulder to tail and their girth, the width of the jacket at the chest’s widest point. I took note of any jackets that differed from their advertised size or that appeared to fit more tightly than expected.

Soak test: The soak test illustrated how each raincoat would stand up under heavy rain. Using leftover two-by-fours, we constructed a wooden dog with a belly 13 inches off the ground and a length of 20 inches. When Woody was ready, I wrapped a dry towel around its belly and dressed it in each jacket. I sprinkled the dog and raincoat with water from a hose for two minutes, then carefully removed the jacket to look for any spots where the water had seeped through. I also checked the interior lining of the jacket to see if moisture had penetrated without actually wetting the towel.

Cleaning test: The cleaning test had three parts. First, I wiped a handful of mud on the exterior of each jacket and let it dry overnight. Next, I attempted to wipe off the mud using a clean, dry cloth. Finally, I washed the raincoat according to the manufacturer’s instructions, looking for any stains or other changes in the material.

How to fit your dog for a raincoat

Dogs come in so many different shapes and sizes that fitting one for a raincoat can be a lengthy process of trial and error. Since there’s no such thing as universal sizing, what one brand considers a small could easily be considered large by a competitor. So what’s the best way to get the right fit? Grab a measuring tape and follow our instructions.

Length: The primary dimension used to determine the size of a raincoat is the length of a dog’s back. Measure your dog from top of tail to shoulder blades while they are standing in a relaxed position. If your measurement falls between sizes, size up. Some brands may recommend a specific size for certain breeds. This may be helpful, but don’t go by their suggestions alone as sizes can vary among a single breed.

Chest girth: Dog raincoats are also commonly measured by chest girth. This is an important figure to get right because many jackets are not adjustable around the chest. That’s doubly true if you have a broad- or barrel-chested pup. To get this figure, measure the circumference of your dog’s chest while they are standing in a relaxed position, wrapping the tape right behind the legs at the chest’s widest point. If your dog’s chest girth falls between sizes, choose the larger option, especially if your dog does a lot of running and jumping. A highly active dog may benefit from a jacket that is an inch or two wider than their actual measurement because it will allow their front legs more freedom of movement.

Neck girth: To make sure your jacket won’t be too tight around the neck, measure around the thickest part right below the collar. This is particularly important if the coat’s neck does not have an adjustable opening. When in doubt, size up!

Drop: Occasionally brands offer a drop measurement to help you get the right fit. The drop is how low a jacket hangs on a dog’s body and legs. Too long and it may restrict movement; too short, your pup may end up wet by the end of a walk. Your dog’s raincoat should extend no more than halfway down the leg. To figure out how a jacket will lay on your dog, compare half its width to the distance between the top of your dog’s tail to the ankle of their hind leg just above the paw.

How do you walk your dog on a rainy day?

If your dog hates to leave the house when the rain starts to fall, these tips for wet-weather walking will make sure you get their most important daily needs met.

Get the right gear.

Make rainy day walks more enjoyable by getting your pup the right gear to keep them dry. A properly fitted raincoat that covers both the chest and belly will prevent your dog from splashing water against the most sensitive parts of their body. If your dog has sensitive paws, you may also want to consider getting them a set of dog boots.

Plan ahead.

Unless the forecast calls for extreme weather, most rainy days have at least a couple of periods in which showers slow to a sprinkle. Use a weather tracking app or website to help you predict when a storm will lighten up.

Encourage, don’t force.

Even if you have the right rain gear for your pup, they may still avoid the rain at all costs. These dogs will likely require an extra incentive. Before getting ready to go, stuff your pockets full of treats and begin offering them before you’ve stepped out the door. If putting on rain gear predicts that treats will follow, your dog will be more likely to allow you to get them dressed. Use your treats to entice your dog out the door instead of forcing them to go out into the rain, which will only make them more frightened and stressed-out.

Play the Find It game.

Once outside, keep the treats flowing. Try encouraging your dog to walk with the Find It game. Throw a treat a few feet in front of your dog and say “Find It” in a happy tone of voice. Let them gobble up the treat then throw your next one, repeating the phrase. Play the game as much as necessary during the walk to get your pup’s mind off of the water falling from the sky.

Don’t expect a regular walk. 

Even with plenty of treats and encouragement, dogs who really hate the rain aren’t likely to want to stay outdoors for long. If they go potty and then refuse to go any farther, that’s okay. Bring them back inside and make up the missed exercise with play or training indoors. Read more on backup plans below.

Stick to quiet streets.

On rainy days, when cars zoom through puddles, the busier the street, the louder it will be. And the more noise, the more frightened your dog is likely to feel — not to mention all that potential for being splashed by passing vehicles. When it’s raining, stick to quieter streets where there is less noise and where it is less likely you and your dog will get soaked.

Avoid walking at night. 

It can be a huge challenge for drivers to see dogs on dark, wet nights. When it’s raining, stay safe by taking your daily walks before the sun sets. If you must go out in the rain at night, stick to well-lit areas and avoid busy streets.

Have a backup plan. 

If your dog refuses to walk in the rain, you’ll need a backup plan to get their daily exercise and toileting needs met. Both training and play inside the home is a good alternative and can include multiple 5-to-10 minute training sessions, games of hide-and-seek, indoor fetch with a soft toy, and mental stimulation via puzzle toys. For the latter, you may have to get creative. Try a fresh grass indoor potty or select a sheltered location immediately outside your home where your dog can quickly do their business, then come back inside.

Be gentle with post-walk drying.

Whether you’ve managed to get your dog out on a long walk or a short one, it’s likely that their paws, head, and belly will need a bit of toweling off. Unfortunately, these are also some of the most sensitive parts of a dog’s body. Unless you have a dog that loves to be wrapped up in a towel, be gentle and go slow when wiping them down. It may help to ask them to lay down so you can easily access their paws without knocking them off balance. Reward them for each body part you towel off. Each foot earns one treat, each ear earns another, and the belly gets two. Don’t be surprised if your dog gets the zoomies after being dried off. It’s a natural release of pent-up energy that commonly occurs after a stressful experience.

Who we consulted

To come up with the selections for this guide, we consulted with five professional dog walkers. Each answered questions via email or instant messenger between September 2020 and February 2021. Our experts include:

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best dog nail clippers and grinders in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Trimming your dog’s nails with clippers or a grinder keeps them healthy and prevents painful overgrowth and breakage.
  • We tested 15 models to find the best nail clippers for dogs of all sizes, guillotine-style clippers, and nail grinders.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is more important than you might think. Although some dogs wear their nails down naturally if they are very active outdoors, most dogs need regular trims. Too-long nails can curl back and grow into the paw pad – a painful and dangerous condition that requires swift treatment from a veterinarian. Not to mention, long nails can damage wood floors and scratch your arms and legs when your dog jumps up on you.

Nail clippers for dogs come in several different styles. Plier-style nail clippers work for most dogs. Guillotine clippers are generally best for small- and medium-size dogs. Nail grinders are great for gently filing down the nail rather than cutting through it.

To find the best nail clippers, I tested 11 different pairs of trimmers and 4 grinding tools, using them on three dogs with different-size nails. You can read more about our testing methodology and the features that make up a good pair of clippers at the end of this guide.

I consider myself a bit of a nail-trimming expert – check out my guide on how to safely trim a dog’s nails. During my eight-year stretch working as a veterinary assistant, I trimmed the nails of thousands of pets. I’ve also regularly trimmed the nails of my own dogs and cats over the last few decades. For additional expertise on nail trimmers, I consulted both a veterinarian and a pet groomer.

Here are the best dog nail clippers you can buy:

The best budget nail clippers

millers forge pet nail clipper

Simple and affordable, the Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper works well for small and medium-size dogs and cuts the nails cleanly.

Pros: Affordable, sharp stainless-steel blades, simple but functional design, safety lock for storage, exceptionally quiet 

Cons: Small blade opening is not ideal for very large dogs or very thick nails, rubber grips sometimes slip down the handle

If you’re just starting out trimming your dog’s nails, a basic, inexpensive nail clipper is a good option. The Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper stands out for its simplicity, effectiveness, quality, and affordable price. These were the quietest of all the plier-style clippers I tested, something anyone with a skittish dog will appreciate. The blades are sharp and cut smoothly and easily. The metal handle has slip-on rubber grips — not a lot of frills here, but I found them comfortable to hold, although in my experience the grips sometimes slipped down on the metal handles. 

I’ve used these clippers a lot over the years, especially back when I worked in the veterinary hospital. Even with lots of use, the stainless-steel blades always held up great, maintaining their sharpness for many years. Compared to the similarly priced Furminator Nail Clipper, the Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper is more comfortable to hold, quieter to use, and easier to maneuver around each nail thanks to the size and thinness of the blades. These nail clippers also have a quick-guard safety feature and safety lock for safe storage.

These clippers are small with a narrow blade opening, so they aren’t the best choice for very large dogs or dogs with very thick nails, but they worked great when I tested them on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails.

The best for small dogs

jw pet grip soft pet nail clippers

JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper‘s small handle and cutting blades are perfect for toy breeds and dogs with small or thin nails. 

Pros: Small size perfect for smaller nails, very comfortable to hold, sharp stainless-steel blades cut the nail cleanly

Cons: Not ideal for people with large hands

The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper in size medium is a great option for little dogs with small or thin nails. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-sized nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. JW Pet’s gel-like nonslip handle is exceptionally comfortable. The stainless-steel blades are sharp and cut the nail easily and smoothly, and the clippers are fairly quiet. The clippers have a quick guard and lock for safe storage. I always lock my nail clippers after using them to protect the blade. 

Cassie Edmond, an animal care specialist at the San Diego Humane Society, likes using small nail clippers for puppies or dogs whose nails have grown too long and are curling back toward the paw pad because the smaller cutting blades are easier to maneuver around curled nails. 

The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper is also helpful if you have small hands. On the flip side, if you have large hands you might find the handles difficult to hold. I have medium-size hands and had no problem operating them.

The best for large dogs

andis dog nail clipper

With sharp stainless-steel blades and a large tension spring, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper smoothly and easily cuts through big, thick nails. 

Pros: Sharp stainless-steel blades cut smoothly, rubberized grips for comfort and control, quick-stop guard for safety, lightweight, easy to hold, locking mechanism for safe storage, one-year warranty

Cons: None

Big dogs often have thick, large nails, and even some medium-size dogs might have thick nails. The Andis Pet Nail Clipper in size medium easily cuts through large nails, is well constructed, and comes with a one-year warranty. 

I used these clippers on a Labrador retriever. The sharp blade cut her thick nails easily and smoothly, with no shredding or splintering of the nail. The nonslip grip felt good in my hand and the handles are easy to squeeze closed thanks to a large tension spring. These clippers also worked well on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails, so they are versatile. The safety guard prevents overcutting and hitting the quick, and it can be locked in the closed position for storage. 

Interestingly, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper, and our runner-up — the Safari Professional Nail Trimmers — are very similarly constructed. Side by side, they look nearly identical (outside of color), and they are also nearly identical in performance. Both are also very versatile, working well for large as well as small nails. However, the Andis nail trimmers won this category because the brand offers a one-year warranty, and Safari does not, but both are an excellent choice for almost any dog.

The best guillotine clippers

resco dog nail clippers

Equipped with replaceable blade technology, Resco Original Deluxe Dog Nail Clippers cut smoothly and quietly. 

Pros: High-quality American steel, sharp blade for a smooth cut, easy to hold and squeeze closed, blade can be replaced with purchase of kit, made in the United States, limited lifetime warranty

Cons: No quick-guard safety feature, not appropriate for very large nails or thick nails

Resco is the inventor of the guillotine-style nail trimmer, which debuted in 1937. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. The Resco Original Deluxe Dog Nail Clippers in size small/medium outperformed the other guillotine-style clipper we tested (the Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer). The Resco blade was very sharp and cut the nail smoothly. In comparison, the blade of the Millers Forge trimmer didn’t seem as sharp and didn’t cut as smoothly. 

Even though the Resco clippers have no rubber grip on the handles, I found them comfortable to hold and easy to squeeze closed. In comparison, the Millers Forge handles felt a little sticky each time I closed them, which I found distracting.

Designed to last, Resco’s chrome-plated American steel nail clipper is manufactured in the United States. When the cutting blade becomes dull, you can purchase a kit that allows you to replace the blade instead of buying a new set of clippers. 

Guillotine clippers cut with less force than is needed with plier-style clippers, but they aren’t as strong so don’t choose these for dogs with very large nails or very thick nails. They work best on dogs with small or medium-size nails (they are also great for cats). The clippers are very quiet, so dogs that get upset by the loud snapping sound of some plier-style clippers might appreciate these.

Guillotine clippers don’t have a quick-guard safety feature, so don’t make big cuts; slowly snip off small amounts of nail to avoid cutting the quick. Exercise caution because a dog’s nail can get caught in this style of clippers, and if they pull away, they can damage or tear out their nail.

The best nail grinder

dremel nail grinder for dogs

With a nail safety guard, paw guide, and wide variety of grinding attachments, the Dremel 7760 PawControl Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit is easy to use and works well for professionals and novices alike.

Pros: Quiet, gentle, enhanced safety guards that block all spinning parts, good for novices and professionals, rechargeable cordless operation

Cons: Needs to fully charge before use, instructions require careful review for safe setup and use, grinding heads need occasional replacement

Some nail grinders are marketed specifically to pet owners and others are best for professionals, but our top pick for the best dog nail grinder, the Dremel 7760 Paw Control Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit, is ideal for both novice pet owners and professional groomers. 

This cordless grinder is quiet and gentle. I particularly liked the grinding disc (recommended for novice users), which quickly and easily sanded down the nails. The grinding disc is used with both guard attachments, which block all the spinning parts of the tool — something that made me feel quite safe when using it. The enhanced safety afforded by these attachments are main reason this grinder beat out the next closest competitor in the category: the Wahl Battery Nail Grinder

The Dremel also comes with band attachments that offer more maneuverability but require more skill and confidence as they cannot be used with the guard attachments. I used this grinder with both options and preferred both the performance and peace of mind of the grinding disc. 

Nail grinders can be used on dogs of all sizes and are effective even on thick nails. I used this grinder on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a Labrador retriever with large nails. Nail grinders are great for dogs that don’t love clippers as well as dogs with black nails since you can’t see the quick. 

“When grooming, 9 times out of 10, I will just grind a dog’s nails instead of trimming,” Edmond said. “Nail clippers can leave a jagged rough edge on the nail, but a nail grinder can buff out the sharpness and round the nail all the way down to the quick.”

I liked the variety of sanding bands and discs that come in the Dremel kit, but the product’s real standout is the nail safety guard and paw guide, which helped me attain a good nail trimming angle. Nail grinders do have a learning curve, but Dremel’s Quick Start Guide is helpful and clearly recommends specific attachments and speeds for beginning users. As with all nail grinders, the grinding heads need occasional replacement. Professional groomers will need to replace these more often; for pet owners, they should last a long time.

What else we considered

other dog nail clippers we considered
  • Safari Professional Nail Trimmers (Medium/Large): This clipper and the Andis Pet Nail Clipper are nearly identical in appearance and performance. In this guide, the Andis nail trimmers beat out the Safari trimmers because Andis offers a one-year warranty and Safari does not.
  • JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper (Large):  Like other products in JW Pet’s GripSoft line, the handle is extra comfortable to hold, but these clippers stick a little after squeezing them. Both the Safari Professional Nail Trimmers and Andis Pet Nail Clipper are superior. 
  • Millers Forge Nail Clipper: These trimmers are similar in construction to the Safari and Andis clippers, but they feel lower quality — reflected in the lower price. The handle on the Millers Forge clippers doesn’t have a nonslip grip and the clippers lack a quick-guard safety feature. 
  • Furminator Nail Clipper for Dogs and Cats: The blade opening of these clippers is somewhat narrow, the handle is small, and I didn’t love the nubby grip. Although the safety guard has a unique, adjustable design, I found the guard itself got in the way too much and was hard to move out of the way if I didn’t want to use it.
  • Four Paws Magic Coat Professional Series Nail Clipper: Although these clippers are perfect for the smallest dogs with the smallest nails, like Chihuahuas and young puppies, the JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper is more versatile, working for dogs with small as well as medium-size nails. The handle of the Four Paws scissors-style clippers is very small, so if you have larger hands they may be difficult to use.
  • Andis Nail Clipper (Small): These clippers work well for small dog nails and are very comparable to our winner JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper, which won out due to its extra-comfortable nonslip grip for an easy hold. 
  • Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer: The rubber grips on the handles make the clipper stick a little and the grips also slipped down while I was using them. Our top choice guillotine clipper from Resco outperformed this trimmer, which didn’t cut the nail as smoothly.
  • Wahl Battery Nail Grinder: Comfortable to hold and easy to use, this grinder was a close runner-up to the Dremel 7760 Paw Control Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit. The nail safety guard has multiple openings of various shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the ones that worked best for each individual dog’s nails. This grinder comes with a grinding stone with a concave top that makes it simple to round the tops of the nails, plus coarse and fine grinding bands. 
  • Conair Pro Professional Dog Nail Grinder: This grinder is not cordless, but the cord is sufficiently long and you’ll never get caught with an uncharged battery. It’s less powerful than the other grinders I tested, so it takes a little longer to grind the nails. However, this could be a positive for novice pet owners who feel intimidated using a powerful grinder. 
  • Andis Cordless Dog and Cat Nail Grinder: This nail grinder was easy to use and worked well, but it lacks a nail safety guard, which is a helpful feature, especially for novice users.

What we’re looking forward to testing

We’re testing three new tools for an update to this guide in fall 2021:

How we tested

Best dog nail clippers and grinders in 2021

I tested 11 different pairs of nail trimmers and 4 grinding tools, using them on three dogs with different size nails: a Labrador retriever with large, thick nails; a miniature poodle with medium-size nails; and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. I received editorial review samples from the manufacturers with the exception of the Millers Forge and Resco clippers, which Insider Reviews purchased.

All of the clippers and grinders were tested on the miniature poodle with medium-size nails. Additionally, I tested the small clippers on the small mixed breed and the large clippers and nail grinders on the Lab. In our initial round of testing in fall 2021, each tool was tested at least once per dog, but the front-runners were tested multiple times to narrow down the category winners. I waited several weeks in between testing for the dogs’ nails to grow back. 

To gauge long-term durability, I continued to use the nail trimmers that received the highest marks to trim my own dog’s nails (the miniature poodle). In the five months since this guide was originally developed, I’ve trimmed my dog’s nails approximately every two weeks and rotated clippers. I used the nail grinding tool after each trim to buff the nail edges.  

Here are the main attributes we looked for and how we tested them:

Ease of use:I assessed how controlled the clippers felt in my hand and whether they were easy to squeeze closed. When cutting a dog’s nails, you don’t want to struggle or feel uncomfortable while using a nail trimmer. For nail grinders, I assessed how easy they were to set up, hold, and use. 

Performance: I evaluated each pair of clippers to make sure they worked as advertised. For instance, large dog nail clippers should easily and effectively clip through tough nails, and small clippers should be appropriately sized for smaller nails. For nail grinders, I evaluated how well the grinding bands or discs smoothed out the nails and how loud each grinder was.

Sharpness: Although the cutting blades will inevitably dull over time, they should be very sharp to ensure a swift, clean cut through the nails. Inferior, dull blades tend to shred or splinter the nail rather than slicing clean through. 

Safety: I evaluated the presence and effectiveness of any nail safety guards, as well as the presence of a locking mechanism that allows the clippers to be stored safely in the closed position. For nail grinders, I evaluated the tool’s safety options and how safe it felt to operate the tool.

Quality: I assessed the quality of each clippers’ materials and construction. A good pair of clippers should feel study and appear to be well made rather than cheap and poorly manufactured, and all parts should function as intended. For nail grinders, I assessed the assembly of the tool and how it felt when using it.

Frequently asked questions about nail trimming

How to trim a dog's nails dog nail anatomy

We spoke to Edmond and veterinarian Melissa Smits, DVM, medical team coach for Blue Heron Consulting, about the most common questions about trimming a dog’s nails. 

How often should I trim my dog’s nails?

This depends on your individual dog. All nails grow at different rates, and dogs wear their nails down differently, too. Big, heavy dogs that run around outside may naturally wear their nails down, requiring less frequent trimming. “A Yorkie that barely touches the ground most days might need a nail trim every two weeks,” Smits said. “An Iditarod training or marathon running pal might never need one.” Rule of thumb: Trim your dog’s nails before they grow long enough to click on the floor.

How far down do I cut the nail?

Trim the nail as short as you can without cutting into the quick, which is the vein that runs down the center of the nail. If your dog has white nails, it’s easy to see the quick. If your dog has black nails, it’s harder to know exactly how far to cut. Conservatively clip just the hooked part of the nail to be safe. You can also ask your veterinarian for a demonstration on your dog.

When should I start trimming my puppy’s nails?

Start nail trimming as early as possible so your puppy learns to accept it. Even older dogs can learn to accept nail trimming if you approach it the right way. “Introduce the dog to the nail trimming procedure in a slow, fun, rewarding manner,” Smits said. “This will enable the dog to fall in love with the attention that comes with getting a pedicure and time with you.”

Which is better, nail clippers or a nail grinder?

Nail clippers cut through the nail whereas nail grinders file the nail down to a shorter length. Some dogs prefer the sensation of nail grinding over clipping, and you’re less likely to cut into the quick with a grinder. On the flip side, some dogs dislike the loud sound and vibrations of nail grinders. These tools also have a learning curve to be able to use them safely and comfortably. Smits recommends using the tool you feel most comfortable with, which will make your dog most comfortable.

What is the best nail clipper for my dog?

In general, a good dog nail trimmer should be easy to hold and have a sharp blade for smooth cutting. If your dog has very small or very large nails, choose a nail clipper that correlates. Look for clippers with blades made of stainless steel, which is strong and resists rusting. For timid dogs or those that are reluctant to have their nails trimmed, a quiet nail clipper is a bonus. At the end of the day, though, choosing the right dog nail clipper comes down to how you like using it.

Does nail trimming hurt my dog?

As long as you don’t cut too far down, it hurts no more than trimming your own nails. However, be very careful not to cut the quick. The quick is extremely sensitive. Cutting into it is painful and will cause the nail to bleed. It may also cause your dog to become resistant to nail trimming in the future. 

What should I do if I cut my dog’s nail and it starts to bleed?

If you accidentally nick the quick, use styptic power to cauterize it and stop the bleeding. Scoop up a small amount of powder onto your finger or with a piece of gauze and press it gently but firmly against the nail. Hold for a minute or so until the bleeding stops. If you don’t have styptic powder, you can use use flour or corn starch instead. 

I’m too nervous to trim my dog’s nails. Who will do it for me?

If you are not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, or if you are concerned your pet might bite if you try to trim the nails, seek professional help. Most groomers include nail trimming in their regular services. You can also make an appointment to have your dog’s nails trimmed at your veterinary hospital. “If the dog is an amiable sort, groomers are a phenomenal option,” Smits said. “If the dog is a holy terror, they might need sedation, at which point the veterinarian is your best option.”

How do I care for dog nail clippers and grinders?

After each use, wipe your clippers clean. When not in use, close the clippers and engage the safely lock to keep the blade protected. If your nail clippers get wet, dry them thoroughly before storing them indoors in a plastic or cloth bag with all of the grinding accessories. If nail clippers or grinders are left outside and exposed to dampness and temperature extremes, the metal can rust and plastic can warp.

Our sources

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The 5 best airline-friendly cat carriers in 2021

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  • An airline-friendly cat carrier is a must if you’re traveling with your pet in cabin.
  • The Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier offers an unbeatable combination of quality, durability, pet comfort, and safety features.

If you are traveling by plane, then you’ll need to purchase a pet carrier that meets a particular airline’s regulations, both in terms of size and design. We evaluated cat carriers that are suitable for in-cabin travel based on a number of factors, including durability, size, ventilation, security, and comfort, as well as feedback from experts and our testing results.

While these cat carriers are generally acceptable for use in airplane cabins, check your airline’s requirements before purchasing. Different airlines have different rules and regulations. For instance, United Airlines requires that a soft-sided carrier be no larger than 18-inches long by 11-inches wide by 11-inches high. However, Southwest Airlines allows a slightly larger maximum size of 18.5-inches long, 8.5-inches high, and 13.5-inches wide, while Delta Airlines has varying requirements according to the specific flight that you’re on.

You should also research an airline’s general rules for pets before you book, and be sure to have documentation that the airline might require. Your pet may need a veterinary examination and particular vaccines to fly, and if necessary, schedule an appointment with your vet to ensure your travel plans go smoothly.

Here are the 5 best airline-friendly cat carriers in 2021

The best airline-friendly carrier overall

sleepypod air in cabin pet carrier

The Sleepypod Air offers the durability and comfort your cat needs for frequent travel.

Pros: Compresses to fit under plane seats, durable construction, straps can anchor to a car seat belt, crash-tested

Cons: Heavier than other soft-sided carriers

The Sleepypod Air in-cabin pet carrier offers an ideal blend of a highly durable exterior and a soft, comfortable interior to keep your cat both comfortable and safe during travel. The exterior is made of luggage-grade ballistic nylon for strength, and tear-resistant mesh makes this carrier a long-lasting choice.

The Sleepypod Air’s unique design allows you to expand or compress the carrier’s size. When you’re in the car or the airport, your pet can enjoy increased space. Then, compress the carrier when you board so it meets your airline’s requirements and fits underneath a seat.  

A large opening provides easy entry, and there are zipper pockets on both sides for ample storage. Straps on both sides of the carrier can secure to a car seat belt for increased travel safety. This carrier also passed crash-testing conducted by the Center for Pet Safety

The best expandable airline-friendly carrier

mr peanuts gold expandable cat carrier

The Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Expandable Carrier is compact enough to meet most airlines’ size regulations, but also expands to offer your pet extra space.

Pros: Expandable panel for extra room, two entry doors, folds flat for storage, washable interior bed, lightweight

Cons: Hand-wash only, no warranty

To comply with airline regulations, most pet carriers are small and offer limited space. The Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Expandable Carrier solves the issue with a side flap that folds out — just unzip and, voila, your pet has extra space to stretch out while staying securely inside the carrier.

Top and front entrances make it easy to load and unload your cat and a privacy flap can help keep cats calm. The luggage sleeve and comfortable shoulder strap are particularly beneficial when you have to carry your pet long distances through the airport.

The carrier is made from durable nylon and includes a sturdy but lightweight plywood base. An interior fleece bed is removable and hand-washable. When not in use, the carrier folds completely flat for easy storage. 

The best hard-shell airline-friendly carrier

frisco hard shell kennel

Affordable and easy to assemble, the Frisco Two-Door Top-Load Kennel offers extra protection.

Pros: Sturdy hard shell, ventilation on all sides, easy assembly

Cons: Only two color options, low weight limit, may be too large for some airlines

The Frisco Two-Door Top-Load Kennel offers your cat the extra protection and spaciousness of a hard-shell carrier in a size that meets most airlines’ regulations. Thanks to the plastic kennel’s durable construction, you don’t have to worry about the occasional bump or nudge to your cat.

There are secure wire mesh doors on both the front and top of the carrier and ventilation openings on all sides. The doors latch securely and the top-mounted handle is strong.

It arrives in two pieces and requires assembly with the included bolts. The carrier is available in a larger 24-inch size, but it’s likely it won’t meet airlines’ regulations.

The best wheeled airline-friendly carrier

katziela rolling carrier

The Katziela Luxury Rider Pet Carrier is easy to pull through the airport and removable wheels ensure it meets size regulations.

Pros: Removable wheels, mesh top can be compressed to fit under a seat, carrying handle and shoulder strap for convenience

Cons: Can tip over if wheels aren’t properly centered, may be too large for some airlines

With the Katziela Luxury Rider Pet Carrier, you can pull the carrier with a telescopic handle, or opt for the handle or shoulder strap. Whichever way you choose to transport your cat, this carrier makes traveling with pets easier.

Six wheels give the carrier extra support, but they’re also easily removable to keep the carrier within the size limit of most airlines.  You can also squish down the top of the carrier to make it fit under a plane seat.

A mesh top and windows give your cat plenty of ventilation. Pockets can hold small supplies, a name tag attached to the handle allows for easy identification, and zippers can be locked to prevent your cat from opening the side flap and escaping. Just make sure you can unlock it, in case of an emergency.

The best budget airline-friendly carrier

frisco travel pet carrier

Affordable and appropriately sized, the Frisco Travel Carrier is a practical option for the occasional trip.

Pros: Front- and top-loading, secure luggage strap, washable interior bed, folds flat for storage, one-year warranty

Cons: Less ventilation, shoulder strap is uncomfortable for shorter individuals

For an affordable option, the Frisco Travel Carrier offers a combination of comfort, durability, and features to make traveling with a pet easier for cats up to 16 pounds.

The durable nylon bag includes doors at top and front and includes privacy flaps. Along with a shoulder strap, there is a luggage sleeve and convenient carrying handles. The removable interior mat provides your cat a soft place to rest.

The downsides: This bag’s ventilation is more limited than that of our top picks. We also found that the shoulder stap lacks padding and can be uncomfortable to carry.

What we’re looking forward to

We’re testing additional airline-friendly carriers for an update to this guide, including the following:

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The 6 best dog tents in 2021 for indoors, camping, and the beach

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  • Dog tents give pets a safe and comfortable space to relax indoors and outdoors.
  • We found the best dog tents for small and large dogs for use at home, the beach, or when camping.

Dog tents serve many purposes. Tent-shaped beds for indoor use give your pet a comfortable place to relax without distractions, something shy or anxious dogs may benefit from. Outdoor dog tents made from durable materials and with mesh windows for airflow give pooches a chance to rest under shade after a day of outdoor adventures. These convenient tents can be transported for outings, be it to the beach, a camping trip, or an RV adventure.

Here are the best dog tents in 2021

The best dog tent overall

Good for pups who appreciate a cozy place to rest

The Pickle and Polly Dog Teepee Tent will keep your small to medium-size dog cozy, while standing up to rough playtime.

What we like: Sturdy materials, comfortable fabrics, easily washable

If you have a small to medium-size playful companion who loves covered safe spaces, this tent bed will provide them comfort. A thick cushion also ensures that the tent will be a welcoming refuge come bedtime. Made of medium-weight materials and pine wood supports, the tent can withstand the antics of puppies and roughhousing dogs and washable fabrics and a removable cushion make for easy upkeep. It comes in gray or white. 

The best tent bed for small dogs

Privacy for small dogs with plenty of room to stretch

The Best Pet Supplies Tent Bed provides an enclosed yet surprisingly spacious area for your small furry companion.

What we like: Contemporary design, spacious for its dimensions, durable and washable materials

For your small dog who enjoys privacy, this tent offers a surprisingly roomy space for dogs. With a cushion bed and thick soft walls to keep warmth in, this tent will be inviting to your dog. The bed’s polyfoam lining molds to your pet’s body to provide comfort. The tent is wrapped in a classic linen fabric and comes in nine different colors and patterns to match any home decor. Washable materials ensure that it can be your pet’s clean and comfortable resting spot for a long time to come.

The best tent bed for large dogs

An easy-to-assemble and portable safe space for large dogs

The roomy K&H Pet Products Original Pet Cot House provides even the largest dogs with a space to relax and keep cool.

What we like: Safe for dogs up to 200 pounds, multiple windows for good airflow, waterproof mesh bed, easy to assemble

The K&H Pet Products Original Pet Cot House is a sturdy covered cot that is ideal for large dogs. The nylon mesh bed and elevated legs will help keep your dog dry and cool on a porch or lawn. It’s roomy, measuring 30 inches by 42 inches, and has two windows plus an open entrance that provide good air circulation. The cot is easy to assemble and both the cover and canopy are machine washable.

The best dog tent for camping

A lightweight and airy dog tent for camping adventures

The Alcott Pup Tent is a lightweight, durable tent that ensures you never have to leave your dog behind when going camping.

What we like: Portable and lightweight at only 1.5 pounds, 5 windows for air circulation, ground stakes to keep in place, roomy enough for a large dog

The Alcott Pup Tent is easy to transport but still roomy for your dog at 28 inches by 45 inches in size. The green nylon tent comes with durable tent poles and four ground stakes. Five mesh windows in addition to a zippered entrance keep your dog cool while providing them with ample opportunity to take in their surroundings. It’s a good idea to apply waterproofing spray before your outing.   

The best outdoor dog tent

Great for keeping your pup by your side in the heat of summer

The Midlee Dog Cot with Canopy has an elevated mesh platform and a sun shade to keep your dog cool all summer long.

What we like: Comes in sizes ranging from small to extra large, wide canopy coverage, mesh bed for air circulation, easy to assemble.

This airy and shady cot with a removable canopy is a great way to spend time with your dog outdoors in the summer. The raised mesh bed will ensure your dog gets a lot of ventilation, and the generous canopy coverage will keep the sun off your dog at almost any time of day. This green cot can be easily disassembled and brought along for outings to the beach and park or on RV road trips.

The best dog play tent

A convenient tent for both dogs and their owners

The Purrfect Fence Play Tent is a secure way to let small dogs enjoy the outdoors safely.

What we like: Spacious, easy to set up, lightweight and portable, comes with weather cover

The Purrfect Fence Play Tent is a roomy 76 inches by 62 inches in size and perfect for keeping small dogs safe and secure outdoors. Pups can easily see through the mesh panels to observe all the happenings. If the sun is harsh or there is light rain, you can place the included weather guard over the top of the tent. We also recommend covering the mesh floor with a comfortable blanket.

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The 4 best no-pull harnesses recommended by dog trainers, walkers, and rescuers

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  • A good no-pull harness can reduce your dog’s leash pulling without causing them pain or discomfort.
  • A professional dog trainer teamed up with shelter workers to test nine popular no-pull dog harnesses.
  • The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is the best option to prevent pulling without causing discomfort or restricting range of motion.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas. The purpose of this medical review is to ensure accuracy and does not imply any product endorsements or recommendations.

Being pulled down the street can turn a relaxing dog walk into a frustrating battle. As a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, more than half of my clients ask for help training their dog to walk nicely on a leash. I typically recommend that dog owners purchase a quality front-clip no-pull harness to assist them in training their dog how to walk on leash without pulling.

For this guide, I partnered with five shelter workers and volunteers at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco to test nine of the most popular no-pull harnesses. Harnesses were tested on walks with more than two dozen medium and large untrained rescue dogs. I also interviewed professional dog walkers and trainers about their favorite harnesses. With each harness, we evaluated how well it prevents pulling, whether it causes discomfort or impedes a dog’s movement, overall fit, adjustability, durability, and washability. Read more about our testing methodology at the end of this guide.

Why you should walk your dog with a harness

Dog harnesses are more than just a training tool to discourage pulling. Even if your dog doesn’t pull, a harness is safer than walking with a leash attached to a collar. Traditional neck collars should never be used for restraining or controlling your dog, as they can cause tension and stress on the dog’s neck. In a 2020 study using canine neck models with pressure sensors, Anne Carter, PhD, a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that all types of dog collars have the potential to cause harm to a dog’s neck. A flat neck collar’s only purpose is for attaching your dog’s ID tags or for decoration. 

It’s important to remember that front-clip, no-pull harnesses are not a magical quick fix. They are, however, an excellent management tool that makes it easier to train a dog to walk nicely on leash.

Here are the best no-pull dog harnesses you can buy

The best no-pull harness overall

best no-pull dog harnesses in 2021

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness significantly reduces pulling without impeding a dog’s movement, sagging, or twisting.

Pros: Deters pulling better than other harnesses, six points of adjustment for appropriate fit, good for dogs that dislike putting their head through a harness, machine washable, 90-day chew replacement policy

Cons: More expensive than most other harnesses, no padding, can be confusing to put on at first

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is a favorite among dog trainers and dog walkers alike. We were impressed by how much easier it was to walk our untrained shelter dogs when they were wearing this harness. The dogs pulled less and were easier to control.

When used with a leash attached to the front D-ring, this harness offers superior control for dogs that pull. Its Y-neck design does not cross the dog’s shoulders or pinch under the armpits, offering a level of comfort not found with other harnesses. Like all the harnesses in this guide, the leash can be attached to either the chest D-ring to reduce pulling or to the back of the harness for dogs that don’t pull.

If you’ve had trouble finding a harness that fits, this is an excellent option. There are six different points that can be adjusted for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The harness has a band that clips around the torso and another band that clips around the neck. While the neck band is ideal for dogs that resist putting their head through a harness, this design can make it confusing to put the harness on until you get the hang of it. The colored top strap on the back will help you keep straight what goes where.

Robyn Socarro, a professional dog trainer at Beyond the Biscuit in Bentonville, Arkansas, swears by the Balance Harness. “It is great for daily performance, and it doesn’t interfere with the dog’s shoulder movement,” she said. “I do a lot of swimming and water activities with my dogs, and this harness doesn’t need to be removed when using a doggie life jacket, and it dries quickly without irritating the skin.”

“The Blue-9 Balance Harness is my go-to recommendation for my clients,” said professional dog walker Clare Hart-Slattery, based in Oakland, California. “It has a higher level of adjustability than other no-pull harnesses, which helps eliminate loose spots that may encourage pulling or irritate the skin.” 

The Balance Harness has a minimalist design that includes unpadded nylon straps and comes in eight different colors and five sizes. I toss mine into the washer and let it air-dry, with no damaging effects.

Although the soft nylon has a 3,500-pound test strength, if your dog chews this harness, Blue-9 offers a 90-day replacement for half price — just pay shipping to mail in the damaged harness. Because of its design, however, most dogs cannot reach the straps with their mouths and I’ve never had a dog chew through one.

The best no-pull harness for versatility

2Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness

With front and back clips and a double-connection leash, the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness is versatile enough to use with any dog, even serious pullers.

Pros: Works well for serious pullers, straps do not loosen or sag, velvet-lined straps prevent chafing, machine washable, available in 7 sizes and 23 different colors and designs, double-connection leash included

Cons: Can be confusing to put on, straps are difficult to adjust

The 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness has something of a cult following among dog trainers. With both a front and back D-ring, it’s comfortable for walking dogs who are pullers and those who are not. Diane Livoti Perlman, owner of Metro Dog day care and boarding in Richmond, California, recommends this harness to all of her clients.

Users are frequently amazed at how quickly the Freedom harness reduces tension on the leash for dogs that pull, especially when paired with the included double-connection leash. By connecting the leash to the D-rings at the chest and back, the harness evenly distributes pressure, preventing a dog from feeling discomfort at a single point on their body and providing more control than most other harnesses. The martingale strap at the back tightens in response to pulling to help prevent a dog from squirming out of the harness and escaping. 

Several of our testers found it tricky to put the harness on the first few times because the straps are fitted tightly in the stainless steel hardware. However, once the four points were properly adjusted, they got the hang of it. The straps stay secure and don’t loosen up like some harnesses. There is also a buckle at the neck, so it doesn’t need to be pulled over the dog’s head. The velvet lining on the strap behind the legs is a nice touch for sensitive-skinned dogs.

2 Hounds has put a lot of thought and care into their product. Available in seven different sizes, the Freedom Harness works well for dogs of all sizes and shapes and is the only one in this guide that offers two different widths: 5/8-inch wide straps for smaller dogs and 1-inch straps for larger dogs. One of my clients could not find a harness that fit her low and wide Corgi-Labrador mix until she tried the 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness. It comes in 23 different colors and patterns.

This harness can be machine-washed on delicate cycle and air-dried. I accidentally put it in the dryer, and it came out fine. 2 Hounds will also replace a chewed harness for $12.99 with free shipping.

The best affordable no-pull harness

Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness

The Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a durable, no-pull harness that won’t break the bank. 

Pros: Five points of adjustment for good fit, reflective stitching, some padding

Cons: Limited color options, heavy plastic buckles may be uncomfortable

With both a front and a back D-ring, the Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a solid choice. Attach the leash to the front of the harness to reduce pulling or secure it to the back ring for casual walks or running with your dog.

Beth DiMeccio walks shelter dogs most weekdays at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco and tested this harness on several untrained shelter dogs that were difficult to walk. She was impressed with how well it worked for serious pullers. “There’s little chance a dog can wriggle out of this harness, which is a big concern with shelter dogs,” she said.

This Y-shaped nylon harness does not restrict a dog’s movement, unlike Petsafe’s other popular no-pull harness, the Easy Walk, which has a horizontal chest strap that sits too low on some dogs. The 3-in-1’s five different adjustment points allow for a comfortable and snug fit, and with a buckle at the neck, it doesn’t need to be pulled over a dog’s head. It’s also easy to put on and take off after a few tries, but the tiny tags on the straps labeled “shoulder,” “girth,” and “center chest” are only slightly helpful. The light neoprene padding and reflective stitching are a nice touch.

With 1-inch wide straps, this harness is heavier than similar styles, creating too much bulk for smaller dogs. Although the wider straps mean less chafing, there is no padding to cover any of the large plastic clasps. Your dog may have some discomfort if they wear the harness all day.

The harness comes in four different sizes. Unfortunately, the color choices are limited to black, plum, and teal. It also comes with a built-in adjustable car control strap, which attaches to a car’s seat belt. Neither the strap nor the harness are crash-tested, but when used together they will keep your dog restrained in the backseat while you are driving. Petsafe recommends only hand-washing the 3-in-1, which can make it difficult to get out the dog stink that most harnesses collect.

Petsafe offers two sweet guarantees: If your dog chews their harness, the company will ship a replacement for $14.90 (no need to send the damaged harness back). Bought the wrong-size harness? Petsafe has a Perfect Fit Guarantee: They’ll send a new harness free of charge, with a suggestion to donate the first harness to a local shelter.

The best no-pull harness for extended wear

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a comfortable harness for active dogs and will hold up to years of use.

Pros: Padded, wide straps that won’t chafe, can be worn all day, comes in 13 different colors and 5 sizes, easy to put on and take off, durable

Cons: Chest piece twists and gaps with serious pullers, not quick-drying

Designed for outdoor adventures, the Ruffwear Front Range Harness can take a lot of punishment while keeping your dog comfortable. The foam padding on the chest and belly prevents rubbing and chafing, and the built-in clasps are covered with fabric so they don’t touch any part of a dog’s body.

With only two clasps and two adjustment buckles, the harness is easy to put on and remove. It has two leash attachments: an aluminum V-ring on the back and a reinforced webbing attachment on the chest plate.

The Front Range doesn’t reduce pulling as well as the other harnesses we recommend. Although it is normal for a front-clip harness to move when your dog pulls, the Front Range has more twist than our other top picks, causing it to shift to the side with consistent pulling.

But, if your dog tears through bushes or plays rough with other dogs, this harness is a durable option. After seven years, the Front Range is the only intact harness my dog still wears from his younger days. The polyester shell fabric is durable and doesn’t fade over time, and the reflective stitching is a bonus for nighttime dog walking. The harness is available in 5 sizes and comes in 13 different colors to match every possible preference because, of course, your dog needs a hibiscus pink harness.

San Francisco-based professional dog trainer and dog sport enthusiast Scarlett Cermak, owner of Embark Today, loves the size range and color options as well as its comfort and versatility. “The padding is nice because it doesn’t rub on my thin-coated dog,” she said. “I also really like that there is a back-clip option because there are times, believe it or not, when I want my dogs to pull, like in sports like canicross or joring.”

Hand-washing is advised, but I’ve had to put my dog’s harness in the washer and dryer many times. It’s held up, but the edges are now slightly curled. The chest vest can take a while to dry, so it may stay damp for a while after washing or if your dog swims in it.

Ruffwear’s warranty covers manufacturing defects, but there is no chew replacement policy. In my experience, only the most acrobatic chewers can reach the straps with their teeth.

How we tested

no pull dog harnesses we tested

We considered the most popular harnesses on the market and solicited opinions from professional dog walkers and dog trainers who were already using the brands under consideration.

Three shelter staff and two volunteer shelter walkers then tested the harnesses on walks with more than two dozen rescue dogs at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco over a period of eight weeks. The dogs were all medium and large-size (over 50 pounds) and chosen because they were known to be difficult to walk due to overexcitability, lack of training, or reactivity. Dogs were walked with the tester harnesses for 30 to 60 minutes on city streets and in local parks.

Unmanageable leash pulling is typically a problem for dog owners with larger dogs, so we did not test these harnesses on dogs under 25 pounds. Many small dogs strain while on leash, but owners do not struggle with being pulled off their feet.

We also did not test head halters, as most dogs initially find them uncomfortable and will resist wearing them. The no-pull harnesses in this guide are a better choice for anyone looking for the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) approach to dog training and behavior modification. If you’d like to learn more about head halters, read about them in our guide to the best dog harnesses.

 We rated each harness according to the following criteria:

  • Prevents pulling: We assessed how well it prevented dogs from pulling on leash while walking. Dogs were walked for a minimum of 30 minutes on 4-foot leashes.
  • Does not impede or restrict movement: Harnesses were tested on dogs of different sizes and shapes to check for sagging and straps that lay over the dog’s front legs and shoulders.
  • Does not chafe or rub: We tested harnesses on both long- and short-haired dogs to check for chafing or rubbing.
  • Dog cannot slip or back out of the harness: Because these harnesses were tested on shelter dogs who tend to be flight risks, this was a crucial consideration.
  • Easy to put on and take off/ease of adjusting: Putting on or adjusting your dog’s harness shouldn’t be frustrating. Our shelter volunteers and testers were asked to record their impressions when first putting the tester harnesses on dogs.
  • Durability and washability: We asked professional dog walkers for their opinions on how well these wear over time and whether they hold up after multiple washes.
  • Initial cost and replacement cost: We considered whether the price of the harness is justified and how easy it is to replace if chewed.

What else we considered

Kurgo Tru Fit Harness
  • Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness: This is an affordable harness with a padded chest plate and both front and back leash attachments. It’s a solid choice as an everyday walking harness for larger dogs that pull moderately.
  • Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness: This is a somewhat effective no-pull harness, with a vest-shaped design similar to the Ruffwear Front Range. Unless your dog is barrel-chested, the front of the harness twists to the side whenever the dog pulls. The straps also require constant tightening as they loosen too easily. 
  • Petsafe Easy Walk: This popular front-clip harness is inexpensive and easy to put on and adjust. The front chest strap, however, tends to sag more than any other harness we tested, causing it to hang across the dog’s front legs and impede movement. With no padding and thin straps, the Easy Walk may also rub and create abrasions. The buckle ends up under the armpit on many dogs, which can be uncomfortable.
  • Wonder Walker Body Harness: This is a sturdy front-clip harness that works well to prevent pulling. Unfortunately, the horizontal chest strap tends to sag significantly and ends up laying across the dog’s shoulders or front legs.
  • Bolux Dog Harness: One of the most inexpensive harnesses available, this harness does nothing to prevent your dog from pulling, as it only has one leash attachment on the back. Squirmy dogs can easily back out of this harness and escape.

How to get the right fit

Finding the right harness for your dog is like choosing the perfect running sneakers. The right fit is crucial. There’s nothing scarier than your dog wriggling or backing out of a loose-fitting harness. An ill-fitting harness will also be uncomfortable, and if it’s too tight, it can cause chafing. Sagging harnesses can impede a dog’s full range of shoulder or leg movement.

A well-fitting harness should be snug but not too tight, with enough room to fit two to three fingers under all the straps. Check the sizing charts and read the instructions on how to measure your dog. When buying online, measure carefully and check the return policy before ordering. If you have a puppy, prepare to purchase more than one harness as they grow.

Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, so what fits well for one dog may not work for another. You may have to try a few different harness styles if your dog has an atypical body shape.

Why do dogs pull on leash and how can you stop it?

No dog is born innately understanding how to walk on a leash. Most dogs will pull unless loose leash walking is taught and reinforced.

Dogs pull because they naturally walk faster than we do and because they want to get to the park or greet another dog or sniff something interesting. They pull because they’ve never been taught not to pull. Dogs also strain on the leash because it works for them: They pull, and they get to move forward. Tension at the end of the leash is a learned behavior.

The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to train loose leash walking using positive reinforcement. If your dog is a veteran puller, there is no humane piece of equipment that you can just put on them to instantly stop the pulling. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that neck collars do not prevent pulling and put too much pressure on the dog’s neck.

Although front-clip no-pull harnesses are not a magic bullet that will instantly stop your dog from pulling, they are a management tool. A good harness will help you manage and control your dog while teaching them leash manners.

Although we tested these no-pull harnesses on medium and large dogs, pulling on leash can be a problem for dogs of any size. While some handlers may tolerate leash pulling with a small dog, a no-pull harness is just as helpful for them.

How do front-clip no-pull harnesses work?

2 Hounds Design Freedom Harness

Front-clip harnesses are designed to discourage forward pulling by pivoting the dog toward you whenever the leash is taut. There’s no magic — that’s it. This spinning toward you provides a training opportunity while your dog focuses on you. If you keep walking whenever your dog pulls, you are not only missing out on the chance to train loose leash walking, but you are also reinforcing pulling.

Not all front-clip harnesses are created equal. Harnesses come in two basic designs: A Y-shaped chest strap or a strap that lays horizontally across the chest. Y-shaped harnesses better allow for full freedom of movement.

“Any product that forms a Y shape around the dog’s neck and under the chest is non-restrictive,” said Chris Zink, DVM, a canine sports medicine consultant and researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The best no-pull harnesses have both back- and front-clip rings, and some brands now sell cleverly designed leashes that clip to both rings simultaneously, giving the handler better control and balancing leash tension across the body instead of at a single location.

Leashes that attach to the back of a dog’s harness are a safe and comfortable option for dogs that don’t strain on the leash. Back-clip harnesses are also useful for attaching a dragline when teaching recall (“come”).

Why we don’t recommend prong, choke, and e-collars

We only considered no-pull equipment that does not cause pain or discomfort for a dog. Prong, choke, and shock collars are all designed to punish a dog by inflicting pain around the neck whenever they pull. Prong collars and choke chains can also cause damage to a dog’s neck.

“As a general rule, I don’t like anything that puts too much pressure on the neck,” said Siracusa. “Definitely no prong or shock collars. Even a martingale-type collar, which I do like, will not prevent the dog from pulling [and] will apply pressure on the neck.”

Punishment and pain create fear, stress, and anxiety in dogs also have no place in modern dog training. Studies show that e-collars (shock collars) produce behavioral and physiological signs of stress when used on pet dogs. As of October 2020, Petco, the second largest retail pet company in the United States, discontinued the sale of all shock collars online and in stores. Shock collars are banned and illegal in many countries, including England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. To train your dog more humanely, effectively, and successfully, use science-based positive reinforcement and rewards-based training and handling methods.

No harness is chew-proof

There is no such thing as a chew-proof harness. A chewed-up harness is not a manufacturer defect or the fault of a poor design. It takes less than 30 seconds for a determined dog or teething puppy to destroy a brand-new harness, so take it off them when unsupervised. Be sure to also remove harnesses to prevent injury when dogs rough house, as teeth and limbs can get entangled. 

If your dog is a veteran harness destroyer, check the manufacturer’s chew guarantees before purchasing. We were pleasantly surprised by how generous some of the replacement policies are.

Who we consulted

Anne Carter, PhD, is a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University.

Chris Zink, DVM, is a board-certified specialist in veterinary pathology and veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. Chris is one of the world’s top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians and researchers. She is a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Carlo Siracusa, DVM, is the director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

San Francisco SPCA Training Department

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30 companies that give back all year long – not just around the holidays

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

companies that give back cotopaxi
Cotopaxi is a B Corp that puts 1% of its yearly revenue toward grants to nonprofits making sustainable changes in poverty alleviation.

  • Giving back is woven into the business and operations of these 30 companies. 
  • If you shop from the following brands, you’re also supporting several charitable initiatives. 
  • Need more gift ideas? Check out our ultimate gift guide.

Aside from volunteering with or sending direct donations to nonprofits that make our world a better place, one way you can do your part throughout the year is to support businesses that give back. During these tumultuous times, giving back to those in need has never felt more urgent and necessary.

If you’re gifting your loved ones, it’ll only benefit more parties if you buy from companies with a social and environmental conscience. 

When you buy a gift from these 30 companies, you’re also helping to plant a tree, improve livelihoods in underserved areas, save an animal, and more.

Shop at these 30 brands that give back all year long:

Blk & Bold

Blk & Bold  coffee

Shop gifts from Blk & Bold

Blk & Bold, a newly certified B-corporation, prides itself on prioritizing giving back as much as making a profit. The company donates 5% of its profits to supporting at-risk youth and works with over ten organizations with various missions to improve the lives of kids across the country.

Learn more about the initiative here.

Uncommon Goods

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Shop gifts from Uncommon Goods

Combine unique and fun finds with giving back through Uncommon Goods’ Better to Give program. Not only are you supporting small businesses by shopping with Uncommon Goods, but once you select a Better to Give partner, you’ll also be supporting the causes most important to you. Uncommon Goods currently works with organizations that focus on issues including forest conservation, supporting those whose lives have been impacted by conflict and natural disasters, and more. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Bookshop

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Bookshop allows customers to support local bookstores from afar by allowing readers to purchase books directly from their favorite bookstores. If you would like to support a specific bookstore, use Bookshop’s store locator and your pick will receive 100% of the profit from the sale. Bookshop’s mission is to support independent bookstores by connecting them with potential customers. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Everlane

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Shop gifts from The 100% Human Collection at Everlane

Everlane donates 10% from every purchase in this collection of tees, sweatshirts, face masks, and tote bags to the ACLU and has raised over $1 million to date. 

Learn more about the initiative on each individual product page in the collection

Bombas

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Whether you’d like to gift athletic socks, hiking socks, or dress socks, Bombas has you — and the feet of someone in need — covered. For every pair purchased, it donates a specially-designed pair to a homeless shelter. It has donated more than 43 million pairs to more than 3,000 giving partners in the US. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

STATE Bags

companies that give back state bags

Shop gifts from STATE Bags

When you buy a STATE bag, the company fills another with school supplies and gives it to a local student in need at a “Bag Drop” rally. It also shines a light on issues like mass incarceration, the Flint water crisis, and Black Lives Matter through its #WhatDoWeTellTheKids initiatives. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Leesa

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Leesa donates one mattress to a nonprofit for every 10 sold and has donated more than 37,000 mattresses so far. The gift of a better night’s sleep for your recipient (plus someone in need) comes in the form of four different mattresses

Learn more about the initiative here.

AUrate

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Fine jewelry startup AUrate finds beauty in honestly priced, ethically sourced gold jewelry — as well as the power of reading. Every year, it donates thousands of books to students in need in the US. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Cotopaxi

companies that give back cotopaxi
Cotopaxi is a B Corp that puts 1% of its yearly revenue toward grants to nonprofits making sustainable changes in poverty alleviation.

Shop gifts from Cotopaxi

For colorful outdoor and travel gear they’ll be proud to carry, shop at Cotopaxi, the B Corp that puts 1% of its yearly revenue toward grants to nonprofits making sustainable changes in poverty alleviation. So far, it has awarded 42 grants in six countries. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Cuyana

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Shop gifts from Cuyana

In line with its “Fewer, Better” philosophy, Cuyana encourages shoppers to clean out their closets by providing shipping labels to thredUP. Send in a box of high-quality apparel they no longer need, and they’ll receive a credit to shop at Cuyana. When that credit is spent, Cuyana donates 5% of the profit to H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Ease Abuse Related Trauma). 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Skylar

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Skylar is a natural, eco-friendly fragrance company that makes candles and perfume perfect for gifting. It donates a portion of proceeds and time to Step Up, a nonprofit dedicated to mentorship for girls. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market

Shop gift memberships from Thrive Market

Thrive Market, a place to shop natural and organic products for less, offers a one-for-one membership program. That means that every paid membership gives a free one to someone in need, like a low-income family, student, teacher, veteran, or first responder. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Parachute

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For every Venice percale bedding set sold at Parachute, it donates one malaria-prevention bed net in partnership with the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Causebox

companies that give back causebox

Gift a subscription from Causebox

Causebox stands out among the bevy of beauty and accessories subscription boxes by only featuring socially conscious products and companies that give back. Its main areas of impact are women’s empowerment, supporting disadvantaged producers, education and skill development, and poverty alleviation. The company itself also helps various charity partners raise funds and awareness. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Wildfang

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Wildfang, a female-founded and women-run clothing and accessories brand, donates a percentage of profits from full-price goods to a rotating monthly charity. Charities have included Planned Parenthood, Black Girls Code, and Girls Inc.

Learn more about the initiative here.

JUDY

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Judy’s bright and expert-informed emergency preparedness kits empower you to get your safety plan in place. It just launched earlier in 2020 but plans on donating 1% of sales annually to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, which provides essential equipment and training to supplement city resources. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Love With Food by SnackNation

companies that give back love with food

Gift a subscription from Love With Food by SnackNation

Better-for-you snack subscription service Love With Food by SnackNation nourishes both stomach and soul by donating at least one meal to a family in need — through Feeding America — for every snack box purchased. Thanks to its subscribers’ healthy appetites for organic and all-natural snacks, it has donated over 1 million meals. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

ThirdLove

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Shop gifts from ThirdLove

ThirdLove partners with Good360, I Support the Girls, and more organizations to donate its comfortable bras to women in need. It has donated more than $40 million of bras to date, and in the past, it has also donated a bra to a California wildfire victim for every bra purchased. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Warby Parker

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Shop gifts from Warby Parker

If this were like any other year, Warby Parker would distribute a pair of glasses for every pair sold in two different ways. The first helps train adults to administer basic eye exams and sell glasses for affordable prices, while the second gives vision care and glasses to students in need. Its partners include VisionSpring, the Department of Education in New York, and the Department of Health in Baltimore

Instead, Warby Parker has temporarily suspended glasses distribution due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, it’s providing PPE and preventative health supplies to healthcare workers and communities in need for each pair of glasses purchased. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Allbirds

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Shop gifts from Allbirds

Lightly used shoes from this popular startup known for its use of unique materials are sent to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that donates shoes to people who have been affected by disasters. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

United by Blue

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Shop gifts from United By Blue

The conservation-minded outdoor brand pledges to remove one pound of trash from the planet’s oceans and waterways for every product sold. It has removed more than 3.5 million pounds of trash through organized cleanups, while also using more responsible materials like recycled polyester in its products. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Ethique

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Shop gifts from Ethique

Gone are the days of wasteful plastic haircare and skincare bottles. Ethique packs the essential ingredients into a concentrated bar that’s equivalent to three bottles of liquid shampoo, then donates 20% of profits to conservation, animal welfare, and environmental groups and “adopts” animals to pay for their care. It has worked with over 170 organizations worldwide and has ongoing partnerships with Rainforest Trust and HUHA, among others. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Avocado Mattress

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These eco-friendly mattresses are made from materials like natural latex harvested from sustainable tree-tapped sources and organic cotton. The company donates 1% of revenue to environmental nonprofits like Plastic Oceans International and Big Green

Learn more about the initiative here.

Tatcha

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Shop gifts from Tatcha

Every purchase from this Japanese beauty-inspired brand helps fund girls’ education. Tatcha’s Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Future program with nonprofit Room to Read has funded more than 4.6 million days of school for girls in Asia and Africa.

Learn more about the initiative here.

Patagonia

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Shop gifts from Patagonia

Since 1985, Patagonia has donated $89 million to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups. It also donates to nonprofits through its Employee Charity Match program, invests in socially and environmentally minded companies through its own venture capital fund, and donates new and used clothing. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Yoobi

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Shop gifts from Yoobi

Yoobi partners with the Kids In Need Foundation to donate a school supply to a classroom every time you buy one of its products. We’re fans of its sturdy notebooks and weekly calendar planner pads. So far, it’s donated supplies to more than 4 million students.  

Learn more about the initiative here.

KitNipBox

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Gift a subscription from KitNipBox

Each month, this cat toy and treat subscription service donates a portion of proceeds and products to shelters, rescues, and other feline welfare causes. It supports more than 100 animal welfare organizations. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

BarkBox

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Gift a subscription from BarkBox

BarkBox has thousands of rescue and shelter partners that benefit from each subscription purchased. Be on the lookout for custom codes from your favorite organization. When you use the code, BarkBox donates $25 to that rescue or shelter. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Sand Cloud

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Anyone who loves spending time at the beach should be more invested in protecting marine life. Sand Cloud, which makes Turkish cotton beach towels, donates 10% of profits to organizations that protect and preserve beaches and oceans. 

Learn more about the initiative here.

Natori

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Shop gifts from Natori

Natori’s giving program is unique in that it’s customizable and gives you the power to support a cause you care about. When you add one of its bras or lounge products to your cart, you can choose the nonprofit org that will receive 1% of your purchase. There’s a whole directory of organizations but some featured ones include The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Equal Justice Initiative

Learn more about the initiative here.

 

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