The Pet Connection: New products make life easier – or more fun – for dogs

I’m always on the lookout for great new products that can make life with pets easier and better. When I find them, I want to share them with you, and I ran across some doozies in July at SuperZoo, a pet retailer trade show in Las Vegas. I asked some of my colleagues about their favorites as well. Some are brand new and some are tried and true. Here’s a sampling of what we like best.


Poochie Pee Cup:

If you own a tiny dog or one who stands low to the ground, you’ve probably been frustrated over and over anytime you’ve been required to get a urine sample to take to the veterinarian. I feel your pain. It’s not an easy task. Dogs don’t like being followed around by an owner who’s crouching down with a container and trying to stick it beneath them while they’re in the middle of a good pee. Enter the Poochie Pee Cup (makes me smile every time I say the name). It has a long telescopic handle that allows you to collect a sample from up to 5 feet away. Just set it to the appropriate length, attach the disposable plastic cup, and slide it beneath your dog as he starts to urinate. There you have it: a clean urine sample with no muss, no fuss. $29.95 for the device, plus $15.95 for a pack of 250 disposable cups from


Tuggo Dog Toy:

My friend Dr. Andy Roark says this is one of his favorite new products. It sounds simple – a hard, hollow plastic ball with a rope through the middle – but it’s a super plaything for big, strong dogs who are difficult to wear out. The rope allows the dog to pull from either side, providing a tug-of-war effect. Adjust the weight of the ball by filling it with water. Fully loaded, it weighs 20 pounds. The 10-inch ball is available in red or blue. $29.99 from


Safety Turtle Pet Kit:

It’s devastating to lose a pet to drowning. Dr. Patty Khuly’s French bulldog, Marcel, drowned a dozen years ago, and she vowed that it would never happen again. To protect her pets, she has them wear this cute and effective water safety device. The Safety Turtle attaches to a pet’s collar. If the pet goes in the water, an alarm sounds to alert you. “I’m adamant about the effectiveness of products like these for both kids and pets,” Khuly says. The kit includes a Safety Turtle base, an AC adapter, a Velcro strap and a Safety Turtle to attach to your pet’s collar. $149 from


iFetch Automatic Ball Launcher:

Has your arm just about fallen off from endlessly throwing balls for your dog? I know I’ve been there. My friend Dr. Nancy Kay turned me on to the iFetch, and we both think it’s a great concept. Load the battery-operated device with miniature-size tennis balls (or better yet, teach your dog to load it) and watch his excitement as it shoots them 10, 20 or 30 feet away. Right now it’s best suited to little dogs because of the small size of the balls, but a version for big dogs is in the works. $99.95 from


Tru-Fit Smart Harness with Camera Mount:

Want to see what’s down at your dog’s eye view? A new harness from Kurgo lets you attach a GoPro, Sony Action Cam or similar device to your dog’s chest so he can produce his own videos. It comes in four sizes, but fit varies from dog to dog, so you may need to make adjustments. $35 from

Pet Q&A

Our dog Lady is really sweet and lovable, but she goes gaga when the mail is delivered through a slot in the door. She howls and runs hysterically through the house until he’s gone or until we give her a treat and put her in the backyard. She barks at other delivery people, but never as angrily as she does at the mailman. What can we do?

Via email

This just goes to show that not every lady loves a man in uniform. Dogs may be fearful of people in uniform because they look different or because they associate them with the loud noise made by the delivery truck. They also may not get a chance to meet the people who deliver mail or packages, so they treat them as intruders. Dogs also come to associate their barking with the disappearance of the delivery person. After all, the dog barks like crazy and the person always leaves. In the dog’s mind, the barking is working to drive the mailman away.

Give Lady a better response to the mailman’s approach than barking. Try to set up scenarios with a mock delivery person so she can learn that mail delivery is an opportunity to earn a reward. Prevent or interrupt the barking by teaching Lady that when the mailman comes and the slot opens, she should jump onto her bed and do a down/stay for a reward or come find a specific person in the home and sit next to her. And invite the mailman to give her treats so she comes to view him as a delightful friend. If she remains upset when she hears or sees him making his rounds, hold her attention by rewarding her for remaining in a down/stay or give her a long-lasting chew on her bed.

The buzz

A dog named Duke is the new mayor of Cormorant, Minn. The 7-year-old Great Pyrenees was elected in a landslide, with the majority of the town’s 12 residents voting him into office. He holds the honorary position in addition to his duties as a farm dog. Duke was sworn into office at the city’s annual fair, panting in response to the recitation of his duties. His salary consists of a year’s supply of dog food donated by a pet-supply store. No voter fraud is suspected, although voters did pay $1 each to cast their votes.

Kim Campbell Thornton