Friends and family members who love their dogs deserve holiday gifts that capture that love. And here’s the good news: Yes, you can shop smartly and find the gift they will treasure forever – and fur-ever.
dogster reached out to three knowledgeable professionals in the pet industry who were more than happy to unleash ideas, where to find them and how to avoid ho-hum items. Meet Nancy Hassel, founder of American Pet Professionals, a business-networking group based in Long Island, New York; Mary Tan, founder of Whisker Media in Buffalo, Minnesota; and Atali Samuel, owner of Atali Samuel Photography Studio in Dallas, Texas. They happily share six pieces of advice to step up your dog lovers gift-selection game.
Advice #1: Personalize
Nothing says ho-ho-ho like personalized gifts for dog lovers. Nancy oversees a growing organization of pet professionals. She is also a go-to speaker at major pet industry conferences and events, such as SuperZoo. It is her job to know the trends in the pet industry. And, her favorite role: being pet mom to Cody, her always-smiling pit bull.
One of her favorite gifts is a clock in her office that sports Cody sitting on a bar stool with a mug of beer. Each time she looks at the clock, it makes her smile and remembers that memorable day shared with Cody, a popular dog in social media with more than 12,000 followers.
Atali is a nationally renowned pet and lifestyle photographer whose photographs have appeared on coffee mugs, blankets, pillows and other household items as special gifts to the pet lover.
Her studio provides the right lighting and background to make the pet image pop. Her advice: go one step beyond a professional photo session for that special dog lover in your life. Have that photographer use her advanced printers to apply the image on the chosen item rather than try to save a little and send the image to a mass-production printing company.
Atali says professional photographers have access to some of the best printers in the country and you want that quality on a mug, t-shirt, pillow or throw blanket so the image looks sharp and not blurry, she adds.
For friends who love to cook and bake, Mary recommends going beyond kitchen hand towels that may have dog prints on them. Instead, customize towels featuring the person’s real dog so the sight of them makes the person smile each time she enters the kitchen.
Double and triple check the spelling of the person’s name or their dog’s name before placing your customized order. Spelling counts!
Advice #2: Broaden your dog lovers gift-seeking search
Our experts recommend you look beyond Amazon and Google for gift ideas in your search. Branch out to such sites as Barkyours and Etsy. Both of these sites offer an array of unique and cool pet fits.
And, adds Nancy, don’t overlook local community farmer markets or craft fairs where you can find one-of-a-kind, artisan-made gifts for dog lovers.
Advice #3: Move past well-known dog cliches and sayings
Nancy says the pet industry’s prime focus is items for pets, but that gifts for pet parents are expanding. Mugs that say, “Wag more, bark less” or t-shirts sporting paw prints can now be viewed as ho-hum these days.
But growing in popularity are t-shirts with biting humor or fun word play. Nancy says to look what doggy sayings are trending on TikTok and Instagram to create a customize t-shirt for your dog lover pal.
And, don’t simply buy a coffee mug with paw prints on it. Make it the mug your gift recipient reaches for by personalizing it. Customize by adding a happy photo of that person’s dog maybe with a trending dog texting code such as HAW (humans are watching), TTTP (talk to the paw) or ROFB (rolling on the floor barking).
Advice #4: Opt for timesaving ideas for dog lovers
Many dog lovers struggled to get everything done in a day. Consider giving them the gift of time. Mary suggests you give them a gift certified good for sessions with a professional dog walker to give your dog needed exercise so you can complete your work tasks.
Pet taxi services may also be well received for busy people who may have dogs who need to be shuttled to doggy day care or who may require repeat veterinary visits for a chronic condition.
Just do your homework and make sure these dog walkers, pet taxi drivers and others are licensed, insured and bonded, she adds.
Advice #5: Select practical holiday gifts for dog lovers
If the dog lover in your life loves plants, choose those that are definitely safe around pets. Or, if your friend has a senior dog with fading eyesight, consider a dog-shaped night-light.
If you know your friend’s dog is a major snorer, help your friend get steady sleep by giving a dog-themed white noise machine.
For people with dogs who shed, shed, shed or who may become incontinent, consider cordless portable carpet cleaners and yes, doggy diapers. Your gift recipient will appreciate both.
Nancy enjoys a dog trainer fanny pack she received as a gift. The item is the ideal shape and size to hold her phone, Cody’s treats, extra doggy poo bags, hand sanitizer wipes, driver’s license and house key while allowing her to be able to hold Cody’s leash. The zippered compartments to prevent items from falling out should Cody suddenly pull in a new direction.
Final advice: Hit the pause button before you get ready to make a purchase on your cell phone. Take the time to consider the wants and needs of that special dog person in your life. Make your gift one choice that will truly be memorable and well received.