Over the years I’ve learned quite a few tips & tricks that owning a dog a bit easier. Some of it was learned by reading & research, but most of it was learned the old fashioned way — through trial & error. From tips on keeping your house clean with pets to making your own doggie first aid kit, here’s 59 simple life hacks for dog owners.
Life Hacks for Dog Owners: Safety & Hazards
- Keep an Eye On Your Dog Around Water (Especially Pools)
Not all dogs are great swimmers, and when it comes to pools they can be very dangerous for a dog. Keep an eye on your dog if they’re out in the yard by the pool and make sure your dog knows where the steps in & out of the pool are.
- Watch Out For Your Dogs Feet in the Summer
Hot pavement can burn your dogs paws rather quickly. To see if it’s too hot for your dog place the back of your hand on the pavement – if you can’t hold it there for 5 seconds it’s too hot for your dog. On really hot days consider walking your dog in the woods, on the grass, or waiting til the sun goes down.
- Keep Your Gum & Candy Stored Away
Many gums & candies include xylitol, a sugar substitute that’s highly toxic and can be fatal to dogs. Keep all candies and gum far out of reach of your pets at all times. Here’s a list of common household items that are known to contain xylitol.
- Create Your Own Doggie First Aid Kit
You never know when an accident might happen so it’s recommended to have a first aid kit on hand just in case. Here’s a great list of basic items a pet first aid kit should have.
- For Safety Keep Your Dog Restrained in the Car
I know that dogs love sticking their head out car windows – but it’s a dangerous habit. They’re at risk for being hit with debris, damaging their ears & there’s always the risk that they’ll see something & jump out. If you’re going to be driving over 20 mph it’s always recommended to have your dog restrained in the car.
- Keep Household Toxins (Including the Garbage) Out of Reach
While it may seem obvious to keep your cleaning products tucked away safely one of the biggest threats to a dogs health in your home is the garbage. If your dog gets into the garbage you can use some baby proof locks to seal it, or put it away in the closet or garage while you’re gone.
- Don’t Let Your Dog Ride in the Back of Your Truck Unrestrained
An estimated 100,000 dogs die each year from riding in pickup beds each year, and that doesn’t take into account all of the injuries seen each year. Dogs in pickup beds are also at risk of being hit with debris that can cause injuries.
- A Wagging Tail Does Not Always Equal a Happy Dog
Don’t approach a strange dog just because it’s wagging it’s tail. Tail wagging isn’t always the universal sign of happiness – it can also indicate fear or insecurity. Be sure to teach your children about the basics of dog bite prevention.
- Get Your Dog Microchipped For a Permanent Identifier
A scan of your dogs microchip will give all of your personal information to help with a speedy reunion, just remember to update your information with the microchip company if you move. (microchips are also one of the ways a court can make a decision regarding ownership of a dog, if it ever came to that)
- Teach Your Children to Ask Permission Before Petting a Strange Dog
There are 4.5 million dog bites in America each year, half of which happen to children. Make sure to teach your children to ask permission before petting any strange dogs.
- Use a Bright Colored Bandana On Your Dog During Hunting Season
Make sure both you & your dog stick out if you’re going to be out walking during hunting season. You can wear bright colors (orange is preferred), and you can help keep your dog safe by having them wear a bright orange bandana.
Life Hacks for Dog Owners: Dog Training Tips
- Use a Clicker to Reward Good Behaviors
Having trouble being consistent with giving out praise at the right time? Start clicker training to make marking their good behaviors much easier.
- Teach Your Dog to Catch Using Popcorn
If your dog doesn’t know how to catch don’t start by throwing a toy at their face. Popcorn works great for training dogs to catch because it’s light & yummy which makes it enticing enough for your dog to try and catch it.
- Make Training More Fun by Switching Up The Rewards
Instead of just giving praise for a new trick add some yummy treats or a game of tug as the reward. By changing the rules & rewards you’re keeping training sessions more fun & exciting for both you & your dog.
- Treat Every Poop Like a Miracle aka How to Easily Potty Train a Puppy
When potty training your dog make sure to pay attention & praise them every single time they do their duty outdoors. If you treat every pee & poop outdoors like it’s the best thing that ever happened they’ll catch on pretty quick.
- Use Fruits & Veggies for Training Treats
Don’t have any dog treats on hand? Use some leftover fruits & veggies that are healthy for dogs as your training treats. Carrots and snap peas are Laika’s favorite snacks
- Make Yourself the Funnest Thing in the World for a Reliable Recall
When training your dog to “come here” make sure you’re giving out a lot of praise & treats. The goal is to make coming back to you the best decision they could have made, if not your dog is likely going to decide that whatever he was chasing/sniffing is more interesting.
- Use a Front Clip Harness to Prevent Pulling on Leash
If your dog pulls on his leash get a harness that clips in the front. The harnesses that clip on the back promote more pulling. And when you’re working on leash manners ditch the retractable leash for a regular 6 foot one so your dog can get the feeling of what loose leash walking means.
Did you cut your dogs nail too short? Use a homemade mixture of flour, baking soda or cornstarch with water until it’s a thick paste then apply it to the nail with moderate pressure for a few minutes.
- Dog Got Stung? Remove the Stinger with a Credit Card
When you try to pick out a stinger from your dog you risk leaving part of it in the skin. Remove stingers by scraping them with a straight edge – like the side of a credit card.
- Make Your Own Elevated Food Bowl
- Protect Your Dogs Paws in the Winter with Vaseline
If you don’t have any paw balm, and if your dog doesn’t like wearing boots, you can use some Vaseline to help protect your dogs paws in the winter.
- Make Your Own DIY Refillable Water Bowl
Are you filling up your dog water bowl multiple times a day? Create your own DIY refillable water bottle bowl.
- Use a Food Dispensing Toy for Fast Eaters
If your dog eats too fast use a food dispensing toy (we love the Kong Wobbler & Bob a Lot), or place a few tennis balls in their bowl to slow their eating. Not only does this keep them from eating too quick, it gives them a nice mental workout.
- Get Rid of Skunk Smell with Hydrogen Peroxide & Baking Soda
Did your dog get skunked? You can get rid of that nasty skunk smell from your dog using some soap, peroxide & baking soda.
- Use Dog Toothpaste on a Rope Toy
If your dog doesn’t like having his teeth brushed squeeze some doggie tooth paste onto a rope toy & let them go at it. It’s a nice way to start desensitizing them to having their teeth brushed.
- Make a DIY Dog Sling for Added Support
Does your dog have arthritis or weak limbs? If your dog needs some extra support getting up & around you can make your own dog sling to help.
- Need Help Getting Your Dogs Urine Sample? Use a Ladle & Container
If you need to collect a urine sample check out this awesome $2 solution (a ladle & small containers) that makes it easy.
- Check for Fleas By Giving Your Dog the White Towel Test
Do you think you dog has fleas? Have them lay on a white towel while you examine & brush their fur. The sheet makes it easy to see any loose flea dirt that falls from your dog.
- Make Your Own DIY Pill Pockets with Peanut Butter, Milk & Flour
One of the most useful life hacks for dog owners is finding a way to get your dog to swallow pills. If you’re having a hard time getting your dog to swallow pills you can make your own DIY pill pockets.
- Remove Ticks From Your Dog With a Pair of Tweezers
Don’t have a tick remover on hand? You can carefully remove ticks from your dog with a pair of fine tipped tweezers. Grab the tick by it’s mouth area (the part closest to your dogs skin) and pull firmly until it’s removed. Place the tick in a jar of alcohol to kill it, and be sure to wear gloves when dealing with ticks since they can transmit diseases to pets & people.
- Soften Up Dry Food With Warm Water
Does your dog have a hard time eating his kibble? If your dog has sensitive teeth you can soften up their dry dog food by adding in some warm water.
- Keep Dry Dog Food Fresh in a Sealed Container
Dog food can start to loose it’s freshness after it’s open. If you buy bags of dog food use an airtight sealed container to store it, the food will stay fresh for much longer inside a tightly sealed container.
- Learn How to Make Some Simple Dog Treats
Don’t have any dog treats on hand? You can make your own simple & healthy dog treats. Here’s 21 dog treat recipes you can make, all with 5 ingredients or less.
- Add Brushing Your Dogs Teeth into Their Grooming Routine
Get in the habit of brushing your dogs teeth daily to avoid expensive dental visits later. You can use a human toothbrush if you like (though they make ones for dogs, too), but be sure to pick up tooth paste that’s formulated for dogs.
Life Hacks For Dog Owners: Play Time & Exercise
- Make Your Dog Their Own Digging Box
If your dog loves to dig keep you can keep your garden safe by teaching them to use their very own digging box.
- Play a Nice Interactive Game of Tug With Your Dog
A 5 minute game of tug works wonders for tiring out your dog & letting him get rid of some of that pent up energy. (and no – it won’t make your dog aggressive despite the old myth)
- Make Some Simple Frozen Dog Treats
Looking for an easy way to keep your dog busy? Make them some frozen dog treats. Freeze some broth in ice trays to give your dog a nice little treat on those hot summer days.
- Alternate Their Toys to Keep Their Interest
Just like us dogs get bored with new stuff after awhile, and this includes their toys. Keep their interest by alternating their access to them. Once your dog hasn’t seen their blue ball in a month they’ll have a brand new appreciation for it the next time it makes an appearance.
- Make a Simple Puzzle Toy With a Muffin Tin
Looking for a simple way to keep your dogs mind busy? Create a simple puzzle toy with a muffin tin, treats and a few tennis balls. And if you’re looking some more boredom busters check out 26 simple ways to relieve dog boredom.
- Teach Your Dog to Chase Bubbles for Easy Fun
Does your dog like to chase stuff? Take advantage of that natural instinct and teach your dog to chase bubbles for some easy playtime & exercise.
- Stuff a Kong With Treats to Keep Them Busy
Stuff a Kong with some yummy treats to keep your dog occupied, and for a tougher challenge you can freeze them in there. You don’t need fancy dog treats or stuffing either – here’s 39 food & treats I like to Stuff in Kongs.
- Make a Tug Toy From Old Clothes
Does your dog love to play tug? Got some extra t-shirts lying around? Make your own toy by braiding one of your old t-shirts into a tug toy rather than throwing them out.
- Teach Your Dog to “Find the Treats” for a Fun Game
Teach your dog to ‘find their treats’ by hiding them throughout the house. Simple nose work games are a great way to keep your dog busy & mentally stimulated. It’s Laika’s favorite indoor game by far. (Looking for some more indoor games? Here’s 33 simple ways to keep your dog busy indoors)
- Make Your Own DIY Flirt Pole
Make a flirt pole for dogs that love to chase and/or have a strong prey drive. Just remember to take it easy with this exercise since it’s pretty high impact and can be tough on a dog’s joints.
- Make a Re-Stuffable Dog Toy
Does your dog go bonkers with stuffed toys? If your dog likes to rip stuffed animals apart you can make a re-stuffable dog toy.
- Buy a Kiddie Pool For Your to Keep Your Dog Busy
Does your dog enjoy the water? Keep your dog cool in the summer by using a plastic kiddie pool out in the yard. They’re inexpensive, too. I got ours for about 4 bucks at my local Meijer.
Life Hacks For Dog Owners: Housekeeping & Cleaning Tips
- Create a Barrier to Keep Your Dog Out of the Litterbox
Does your dog go straight for the littler box? He’s not alone, lots of dogs are attracted to kitty litter. Keep your dog from getting into the litter by elevating the box, creating a barrier around the box, or by using a covered litter box that your dog can’t get into.
- Stop Dog Hair From Clogging the Drain With a Baby Wipe
When you bathe your dog does their hair end up clogging up your drain? Use a baby wipe to help stop the dog hair from clogging it up.
- Make Your Own Pet Bed Out of a Sweatshirt
Want to give your dog a nice comfy spot to sleep without having to buy a dog bed from the store? Make them this super cool dog bed out of a sweatshirt & pillow.
- Use a Roll of Packing Tape to Pick Up Loose Pet Fur
Do your clothes pick up dog hair like crazy? Don’t have a lint roller on hand? One of my favorite life hacks for dog owners is using packing tape to pick off all that dog hair that gets all over your clothes.
- Use Baking Soda to Clean up Pet Urine
If your dog pees on the carpet use baking soda (which is also great at removing odors) to clean it up. Pour some baking soda over the spot, let it sit for 20 minutes and then vacuum it up.
- Use a Window Squegee to Clean Up Fur From Carpet
Do you get a ton of dog hair lodged deep into your carpet? Use a window squegee to pick up fur in your carpet & on your furniture. Scrape it along the carpet & just watch as that hair comes up.
- Cover Up Scratch Marks on Furniture with a Walnut
Do you have a few scratch marks on your wooden furniture? You can cover them up by rubbing a walnut over them. The natural oils in walnuts seep into wood, making them a simple way to help cover up small scratches in your furniture.
- Use a Magic Eraser to Get Rid of Drool Marks
Does your drool a lot? If so you’ve probably got a bunch of drool marks all over the house. You can say goodbye to scrubbing off those drool marks by getting yourself some magic erasers.
- Make Your Own DIY Dog Friendly Carpet Deodorizer
Do you have some dog odors you want to get rid of? If you don’t have any special products on hand don’t worry – you can make your own simple dog friendly carpet deodorizer with items you’ve got around the house.
- Use Covers to Keep Your Furniture Fur Free
Do you allow your pets on the furniture? If you do you’re well aware of how hard is to keep them clean. My favorite tip for keeping your furniture clean and fur free is to use a cover. You can use sheets, blankets or slip covers — and if you want something to match your decor you can get them custom made. When it’s cleaning time you just throw those covers in the wash & you’re good to go.
- Dryer Sheets Pick up Dog Hair Like Crazy
Looking for a simple way to pick up some of that dog hair? Use dryer sheets. They pick up loose dog hair on fabric like magic. Just rub a dryer sheet over your couch or wherever else pet hair collects and watch as it clings right to it.
- Use Rubber Gloves to Pick up Stray Dog Hair
Does your dogs hair get everywhere, or is it just me? My favorite method for picking up all that loose hair is using a pair of rubber gloves. You put them on and run you hands over your furniture; it’s amazing how well pet hair clings to rubber gloves.