These are just some of the everyday essentials we simply couldn't live without! All are tried and true in our household and may be a good option for you and your dog.
(Click on any of the images to see more about that product or company.)
Zulu, Nyea, Shirley & Seti in their Northwind Collars
We love these collars. Kay (Northwind Collars) hand-makes these collars, and they are the best! She uses seat belt material for the actual collar, so they are super strong, reliable and hold up well wash after wash! For those who want to pursue lure coursing, Kay also makes matching slip leads. Thank you Kay! We love you!!!!
Keepsafe Break-Away Collar
After a terrible collar entrapment and strangulation accident that nearly caused the loss of our foundation bitch, Ekundu, we sought out a new everyday/play collar for our kidz to wear. This collar is IT! It's one of the very few on the market that features a true break-away component that will allow the collar to pull-free from the wearer if the enough tension is put on it. Other collars (such as training collars, martingales, even collars with plastic "safety" buckles) are great, but can be a hazard when the dog or puppy is kenneled, unattended or playing with another dog. This is why EVERY ONE OF OUR PUPPIES IS SENT HOME WITH ONE OF THESE COLLARS. For more information about collar entrapment and strangulation, please click HERE for our CPCR article.
Fido Fleece Coats
Emily and Nyea snuggling together
Our kidz stay blanketed (indoors and out) in Fido Fleece coats all winter. They keep the dogs snugly warm and keep the shedding hair off the furniture. We turn them inside out & wash them every couple of weeks. These coats take the wash & wear routine quite well, as some of our coats are now pushing 5+ years old. Although these coats have been discontinued by the manufacturer, you might be lucky enough to find one still available through another online store. We are absolutely heartbroken to see these leave the market!
Traditional ID Tags
Everyone knows an ID tag on their dog's collar is a must, but with so many to choose from, how do you know which ones are worth the money and are hardy enough to hold up over time? We've tried and tested many ID tags over the years and LuckyPet has been the most reliable company we've found. Their products are durable, stylish and if by chance they don't hold up to everyday wear and tear, they will replace it for free! We use the beautiful Classic Jewelry Tags to compliment their Northwind martingale collars (see left).
Low-Profile ID Tags
For safety reasons, on their Keepsafe collars (see left), a low-profile tag is highly recommended to prevent others from biting/chewing/playing with the collar and tag while playing with the wearer. Application of this tag style from Boomerang Tags is far easier than rivet-on style tags, which makes it easy to move from collar-to-collar. We love this hardy, low-profile tag... and when they say it won't fall off your dog's collar, they aren't kidding!
PoochPlanet Dog Bed
Our dogs absolutely LOVE these dog beds! We've certainly gone through a ton of beds over the years but they have never flocked to a bed like they have these! PoochPlanet makes several lines of dog beds, but their beds featuring shredded memory foam are outstanding. Most good-quality, thick dog beds easily run $100+ at the pet store, we were thrilled to find these at Sam's Club for less than $40! Because of the shredded memory foam, they are heavy and super thick and aren't "fluffy". The dogs don't push through the filling, hitting their elbows the floor when they flop down like they do with "fluffy" polyfill beds. When I brought this bed home, we had all four dogs crammed on it almost instantly and their desire to use this bed hasn't changed since. This is still apparently the place to nap!
Midwest Life Stages Crates
These crates are perfectly designed. They fold flat for easy transportation or storage, and we utilize the convenient side door in both the car and in hotel rooms. This crate comes with a divider panel that allows the crate to grow with the puppy, so you don't have to purchase multiple crates for the same dog. Sizing: We recommend the double door 1636DD Life Stages crate for our bitches and the double door 1642DD Life Stages crate for our dogs. As much as we like the Life Stages crates, we don't recommend Midwest's iCrate. Although less expensive, the iCrate has not performed nearly as well for us because it is lighter weight and less well-built.
Cedar Creek Orthopedic Crate Pad
Once your puppy has outgrown their "bedding destruction" phase, this is a great crate pad option. They fit the Midwest Life Stages crates beautifully, the covers are removable and washable, and the foam is dense and durable. This is a terrific buy, especially for the price!
After rave reviews from so many of our puppy families, we made the switch from traditional bowls to these. There are many different styles and brands out there to choose from, but the added enrichment of these Slo-Bowls by Outward Hound really appealed to us, and our dogs are loving them. We also have stocked up on the smaller version of these bowls and plan to introduce all future Luvakis puppies to this type of feeding device at a young age. What a great way to nourishing the brain *and* the body alike! Click the image to link to a video of these bowls in action.
We purchased 3 of these crate pads and put them through daily use by our 3 hardest-on-bedding dogs. Unbelievably, they look as good today as the day we purchased them! They wipe down with ease if there is a food or water spill (or the occasional vomit episode). The brilliant "locking system" to keep the pad firmly attached to the floor of the crate has prevented damage from digging or corner chewing. I am so thrilled with the performance of this kennel pad, we have plans to outfit all of our crates with them! I am even interested in possibly having a custom, over-sized pad made for our whelping box. This one gets an A+ in our books (no more shredded beds or blankets, and no more taxing the washer and dryer with dog bedding)!
Flat Sided Pails
This is pail is our favorite because it keeps the dogs from spilling water in their crates. When hung with a pair of spring clamps, it is virtually untippable. We love to use these in the car, too. Again, when hung with a pair of clamps, there is no swinging and subsequent water sloshing when we turn corners.
Dax, Shiloh & Copper in their Premier Collars
This is the perfect sighthound puppy collar. Just like the Northwind collars, these are a martingale-style collar, which prevents puppy from "backing out" of the collar while on lead. We start all of our puppies on these collars and encourage the use of them through the puppy's first training class. It allows minor corrections to be made without the risk of damage a traditional training collar can cause to the soft, still growing tissues of a very young puppy's neck and throat. (We do encourage the use of a traditional training collar when the puppy is old enough to tolerate it, typically by 6-8 months of age.) As the Premier folks say, this collar is "better than a buckle, safer than a choke", and we couldn't agree more. ! OWNERS SHOULD USE CAUTION WHEN USING THIS OR ANY OTHER NON-BREAKAWAY COLLAR! ANY COLLAR THAT DOES NOT FEATURE A TRUE BREAKAWAY RELEASE CAN BECOME A STRANGULATION HAZARD FOR YOUR DOG OR PUPPY WHILE KENNELED, UNATTENDED OR PLAYING WITH ANOTHER DOG ! For more information about collar entrapment and strangulation, please click HERE for our Collar Entrapment and CPCR article.
D.A.P. products are helpful for stressful situations, travel, anxiety, environmental changes (moving, home repairs), etc. We use the collar version for show dogs who don't enjoy being away from home for unusually long show weekends, as well as for our Shepherd who is a walking anxiety attack 24/7. At work, we employ these collars for maiden bitches who are delivering their puppies via c-section to help the bitch be more at ease about the sudden appearance of puppies she doesn't remember delivering.
A must in my book! We train all of our puppies to use this headcollar system from an early age. Because of the Gentle Leader Headcollar, I can easily walk 5 or 6 RRs at once without the concern of being dragged down the street after a squirrel or bunny!
For anyone using a clicker for obedience or agility, this is the single best clicker I've come across. It isn't too loud or too soft and it attaches directly to your finger, no need to dig in a pocket for it or have one dangling from your wrist! Love, love, love this clicker!!!
Don't get me wrong, RRs really are a quiet breed, but for those times when we need to ensure they are quite (dog-sensitive company, hotels, etc.) we love this product. After 1 or 2 uses, our dogs no longer need the collar to actually be filled or even have a battery in, just wearing the collar encourages them to refrain from barking. We don't use this often, but when we need it, it has been a reliable anti-bark tool.
Enrichment (Toys and Feeding)
Busy Buddy Toys - For Chewing
What can I say? An engaged RR is a good RR! These toys have been sturdy enough to put up with some pretty aggressive chewers over the years. ALL of our dogs love these toys and have yet to grow tired of them; the Jack is the absolute favorite! The refill gnawhide rings for the Jack, Bouncy Bone and Bristle Bone are easily found at most pet stores, making them easy toys to maintain, and their regular kibble is a great stuffer for the Squirrel Dude and Waggle.
These are the only stuffed toys that have held up to the abuse of our dogs. Most toys are gutted, the squeakers de-squeaked and the "pelt" shredded in minutes. These toys are made with that kind of abuse in mind, and we have yet to see one of these "tuff" toys die at the jaws of one of our dogs. We're so impressed with the quality and durability of these toys that we've signed-up to be a MyDogToy toy tester. The discount is great, and the dogs look forward to the quarterly box with the new "victim" inside!
Although they are a bit pricey, these are the only rawhides that actually last. Our RRs are like most RRs, power chewers. The typical rawhide lasts about 10-15 minutes (at best) at our house. PetAg's Chunky Chews are big, thick, dense rolled rawhide made in the US (so we don't have concerns of toxic preservatives like formaldehyde or arsenic). They can be difficult to find in stores, but the company will allow you to purchase these by the case directly from them.
Busy Buddy Toys - For Feeding
More Busy Buddy products?! You bet!!! The Magic Mushroom, Kibble Nibble and Tug-a-Jug toys are great alternatives to dumping your dog's food in a dish and watching it be gobbled down in seconds. Why not challenge them, stimulate brain activity, promote problem solving skills, stop food "gulping" and give them a work out at the same time? Again, the Busy Buddy line of toys comes through with enrichment devices that make meal time more fun! These are great treat dispensers between meals, too.
We have had a long-time relationship with the KONG line of products. We love filling classic KONGs with peanut butter & tossing them in the freezer for a cool snack on a hot day. The Wubbas were also an immediate hit; they're tough enough to take the stress of endless RR tug-o-war games. We have tons of fun with the Zinger at the park, though it seems like I do most of the retrieving of the rings... they chase it, sniff it, then I have to go retrieve it. Our newest Kong toy is their new food dispensing toy, the KONG Wobbler. So far this one's being true to the Kong name and holding up to the rigors of RR play.
Lather, rinse, repeat... Typically any "general cleaning shampoo that is labeled for use on dogs and puppies (even cats and kittens) will do. Just pick your favorite scent at your price point and you're good! Remember to avoid products that are formulated to control external parasites; these contain chemical that can be harmful to both you and your pet!
What about a conditioner? Unless your dog has a medical condition that negatively affects their coat, causing it to become dry and brittle, for most Ridgebacks, a conditioner is typically not necessary after shampooing.
Of course we've tried many shampoos over the years; these have settled out to be some of our favorites...
General Cleaning: ProGlo by Top Performance (dilutes 7:1)
Lasting Scent:Desert Almond by Groomer's Edge (dilutes 15:1)
For those shampoos that can be diluted, we use the Top Performance mixing bottle (below) to ensure proper dilution (and to store leftover pre-mixed shampoo).
Desert Almond Shampoo
Top Performance Mixing Bottle
Not what most people would think of when listing dog supplies, but this is the best nail trimmer-- period! Traditional nail clippers can pinch the nerve within the nail and easily quick nails and cause pain and bleeding. Using the Dremel, the dogs resist having nails trimmed less because there is no pain and when you go slowly, it is virtually impossible to quick the nail. Wal-Mart carries this particular Dremel (yes, in the tool section) for around $25! FYI: PediPaws does not have nearly enough power to trim Ridgeback nails!
This grooming mitt works great in the bath! It helps shampoo go further, works more dead fur out of the coat and cleans up like new in the washer. Although we can use this as a brush, too, we prefer a separate rubber curry (below) for regular coat brushings.
This is our "everyday" brush; it's made by the KONG company and it's built just as hardy as their toys! The rubber curry-style brush does a nice job of lifting dead hair from the coat and isn't irritating to the skin (like wire brushes can be). We love the ergonomic design and that it rinses clean under the tap. Our Zoom Groom looks as good today as the day we bought it (and that's been many, many years ago now).
SprayShield Dog Deterrent
This is an absolute MUST if you walk or bike... with or without a dog! We love the security this product gives us when we are out walking or biking with our dogs. If aggressed by a nasty neighbor dog, this product sends them heading home without a second thought (and is far less irritating/damaging than mace or pepper spray can be). This was a great gift for my brother who bikes solo, too. No joke, there are no more worries about a territorial dog chasing and contacting you as you pass by their property! (We also carry this while walking dogs in the dark at hotels/in unfamiliar areas and even at home when taking bitches in season out to potty in our own yard.)
WhelpWise & the staff of Veterinary Perinatal Specialists
Although at this point in my career, I've assisted in delivering thousands of puppies, I would never 'go it alone' with one of my own litters. We trust in the advice and expertise of the Veterinary Perinatal Specialties staff. They have help us successfully whelp, whether naturally or through decisive decisions to deliver via cesarean section, ALL of our litters to date.
Click HERE to see a WhelpWise unit in use on one of our pregnant bitches.