The Best Dog Accessories for New Puppy Parents

Editor’s note: Each week, in Staff Favorites, we offer our opinions on the best Colorado has to offer when it comes to dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also show you some hidden gems).

Estimates from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals one in five households brought home a dog or cat since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Count me among the parents of newly initiated puppies whose lives are now filled with comforting cuddles and endless mess, and whose camera roll is overflowing with “baby” pictures.

In April, my husband and I adopted Ambassador Woodford Longfellow, aka Woody, so named because he is a Basset Hound and Labrador mix. The extra long body and large legs give it a unique look. (Congratulations to the Second Chance Humanitarian Society at Ridgway, where we found it.)

This is my first time raising a puppy and damn if it’s not hard work. Here are four items that make my life a little easier, from fashion to function, plus my favorite local place to buy food and more.

Tiney Ricciardi, The Denver Post

Woody wearing his fashionable bow tie to local maker Rocky Mountain Hound’s Sunday brunch.

Colorado-style

Let’s start with fashion. Rocky Mountain Dog is a West Slope-based dog accessories company that I discovered at Ridgway Farmers Market. One look at their bandanas, which slip over a dog collar instead of being tied around the animal’s neck, and I was sold. Best of all, they’re reversible with designs on both sides. I also couldn’t resist buying Woody a similarly designed bow tie ($8), which he wears on special occasions.

Rocky Mountain Hound sells other accessories such as collars, leashes, treats and paw balm, as well as a selection of holiday themes, so you can decorate the dogs this season.

Elastic leash and soft leader

Woody is 52 pounds of pure muscle and endlessly energetic – a combination that has led to more than my fair share of bruising. One of the worst came when he was on a retractable leash and trying to chase something, painfully wrapping my legs in the process.

That’s when we invested in Ruffwear Roamer Bungee Leash ($39.95), a soft bungee leash that lets Woody wander around in the spirit of a retractable leash but without the sturdiness that caused my 6-inch bruise. Unlike a traditional leash, the handle can be extended enough to accommodate the size, so humans can walk their puppies hands-free.

Woody is always a good boy in training, so he pulls a little when he’s on a leash. But recently we bought the PetSafe Gentle Leader, a fabric collar that goes around his head and attaches to the leash to prevent him from using his body weight to pull, and it was a game changer. He can no longer shoot when he sees rabbits passing by or when he gets angry. Rides are now fun for everyone involved (read: me), and in fact, he behaves exceptionally when wearing the gentle leader because he knows he has no other choice.

Water bottle-bowl hybrid

I sympathize with parents who have human children whenever I need to pack the diaper bag for a road trip or other adventure. One way I’ve cut down on supplies is to buy a dog water bottle that’s also a bowl. More specifically, the Lesotc Pet Water Bottle ($16.97), which has a soft polyethylene top that folds into a bowl and fills when you twist its latch to “open” and squeeze the bottle. It also reduces waste because when Woody doesn’t drink the whole bowl, the remaining water is sucked back into the bottle.

Chow Down Pet Supplies

I always feel good supporting a local store, especially when it’s the best in town at its specialty. Chow Down Pet Supplies has five locations in Colorado, each with its own personality but the same commitment to selling quality pet food and products. I shop at the one in Montrose where the friendly staff are always willing to help me size new gear for Woody (like the friendly chef) and send me home with samples of new products. When I first moved to the West Rim and was changing my cats food, they provided me with mini bags of several options that were eligible for discounts through the store’s loyalty program. The fact that the store also has resident cats soliciting scratches from customers is an added bonus.

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