Review: Dog + Bone Black Label Collars & Leashes (and a Giveaway!)

7 Mar

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It’s been exactly one year since we first reviewed and fell head over heels in love with the Martingale Collars & Leashes from Dog + Bone. Even longer since we reviewed car odor eliminator products from SafeSpace. Lucy and I were both so pleased with the quality, style, and durability of our first sets of Dog + Bone products that they became our go-to gear. We were elated when Ivan and Anne (the faces behind the Dog + Bone brand) came to us for another review. This time, for their new Black Label edition of collars and leashes.

With all the same features we’ve come to know and love from Dog + Bone, the new Black Label edition of martingale collars, snap collars, and adjustable leashes have a lot to offer. We’re so excited to review them for you today, and give an update on just how durable the entire Dog + Bone line can be after a year of rigorous wear!

Style Simplified

When Dog + Bone first hit the market, they quickly made headlines with their bright and colourful style. There is no mistaking a Dog + Bone collar, and I can’t tell you how many compliments we receive about how fantastic Archer looks in her purple and hot pink martingale collar. Quite honestly, there are no other collars quite like them.

With their new Black Label comes the same unbeatable quality and durability, but with a more subdued colour palette. Whereas their initial line of colourful collars and leashes are akin to your favourite happy hour cocktail, their new Black Label is like a fine whiskey. It’s stylish but simple.

Built to Last

It’s one thing to put a product through its paces for a few weeks, but it’s a completely different ballgame when you have a full year to test it out. To be blunt, our first set of Dog + Bone collars and leashes were put to the ultimate test with Topher and Archer’s daily walks, obedience training, weekends at the cottage, and romps on outdoor trails. With large dogs, there really is no such thing as staying clean. Thankfully, as great as Dog + Bone collars look, all it takes is a quick wash (read: throw that dirty collar in with your next load of laundry) and voilà! Good as new!

Let’s talk about durability. Not just regular durability, but the kind of wear and tear and whoa that comes with using the Dog + Bone martingale collar and adjustable leash for Topher’s reactive dog class. Think 100 lbs of drooling anxiety lunging forward, and then repeat that scenario weekly for about a year. At the end of the day, Topher is still happily strutting his stuff in his red and blue martingale collar with neither worse for the wear.

Room to Grow

These collars stood up great to the wear and tear Archer and Topher put them through, but more than that, they’ve proven to be perfect for a growing puppy. At six months old it was difficult to find an appropriate collar for Sirius to grow into; likewise for Topher’s “cousin” Duncan. Thankfully, both the snap collar and martingale collar offer ample room to adjust and grow.

Likewise, the adjustable leash is all about offering flexibility. With Sirius’ puppy class, he had to have a 6 foot leash for good leash training, whereas we prefer using a shorter leash for Archer on walks (she’s so tall, we don’t need all the extra slack!). No matter your preference or style, the adjustable leash fits the bill.

Something for Everyone

The addition of the new Black Label line to Dog + Bone’s already stellar line of martingale collars, snap collars, and adjustable leashes makes this an easy win for us. In over a year—despite our best efforts to put these products through hell and back—we just haven’t found anything to complain about. Whether you’re drawn to the bright bold colours of the original line, or the suave and understated elegance of the Black Label, Dog + Bone has a little something for every pup!

Enter To Win a Dog + Bone Martingale Collar and Leash!

It’s time to share the love! Want to win an awesome martingale collar and leash from Dog + Bone? Entering is simple! Comment below or on our Instagram (that’s right, two chances to win!) and tell us which colour combination is your favourite from Dog + Bone’s new Black Label line!

6 Social Media Strategies for Dog Rescues & Shelters

2 Mar

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Even though we’d been talking about (and looking into) adopting a dog, the week we adopted Topher was a whirlwind event. It started with a photo in my Facebook feed, shared by a local rescue group; less than 48 hours later, Topher was settling into his new home. Whether this is a normal scenario or not, one thing is clear: social media changed the game for rescue groups and shelters, for better or for worse.

Currently, social media is heavily integrated into our daily lives; it’s only natural for companies and charities alike to leverage it for greater success. In many cases, non-profits like animal rescues and shelters don’t have as many resources at their disposal, nor do they possess the time or tools to craft the viral, spot on messaging you see from big corporations. We all love to commiserate over the emotional power of those Sarah McLachlan commercials, but can social media strategies for dog rescues attract even a fraction of that response? We think so. Here are just a few ways rescue groups and shelters can make the most of their social media accounts.

Cover The Basics

Though it seems obvious, many small organizations seem to operate online without any clear contact information or “calls to action.” If your goal is for interested parties to get in touch with you, this is a huge mistake! Make sure information is correct and clearly listed on all social media channels you operate. The website link you use on all accounts should also be the link you want to direct the majority of your audience too. That means if you’d rather send potential adoptive families straight to Facebook, always link to it directly in every profile!

In the same vein, always make sure you’re sharing photos of adoptable animals with all important information a potential adopter will need—location, ID numbers, availability date, contact info—so it will follow that pet’s photo if it’s shared by other people.

Focus on Photos

One picture is worth a thousand words—or at least a few hundred retweets—when it’s a good one. We’ve shared tips for taking great photos of your pets that you can use regardless of your equipment setup. It doesn’t take a big, expensive setup to take a lovely photo of a dog! If we could give one tip to every shelter and rescue group, it’s this: get out of the cage, or even get out of the building if you can. Natural light and a little time out in a grassy area with a camera (or just a phone) will help show off an adoptable dog’s “good side” and keep their mugshots from looking the same as all the rest a potential family might be hunting though.

Simple, Positive, Honest

Once you have a photo, it’s time to share a dog’s story and rustle up potential adopters. These are the three pillars of messaging we feel every shelter and rescue group should focus on.

Simple: Pick out two or three of the best qualities this dog may have, and write one or two short sentences about them. While it might be tempting to write out an entire life story to set a dog apart from the masses, sticking to a few positive qualities will give potential adopters something to latch onto and remember, without diving into four paragraphs on why this particular dog is so great. Social media moves faster everyday—keep things as short and sweet as possible.

Positive: Some dogs come from truly terrible situations and are literally fighting for their lives when they arrive with rescues or shelters. In those cases, it’s common to showcase their story, because those kinds of situations and how a dog survives them will dictate their story as they move through the rescue system.

However, a majority of dogs come into rescues with no backstory, or a pretty common one: they simply aren’t wanted. In these cases, it’s better to focus on the positive. Don’t demonize previous owners or dwell on past transgressions. Focus on the reasons why this dog is ready for a new home with the right family, and those families will—with any luck—be drawn to those positive messages.

Honest: Rescue dogs can sometimes be tricky to place, and it’s important for shelters to be honest about a dog’s potential issues. Animal reactivity, experience with children, and any special needs should always be clearly listed when you’re giving a description of an adoptable dog. All of these things help potential adoptive families to see, at a glance, if this dog is one they can work with or not.

Go Local

If your rescue is not focused on getting out of state adoption placements or transporting animals, it’s important to stay local in your social media efforts. List your location when sharing animals, target your post with that location on Facebook and Instagram. Make use of local hashtags when it’s relevant, or create your own so local audiences can track your new rescues and success stories.

Give Updates

Even if a dog’s status hasn’t changed, it can be helpful to share new photos of them—perhaps with something you learned about them recently—to keep any dogs from falling through the cracks. Smaller rescues can even go as far as keeping a Facebook album for each of their dogs, updating with new photos or new encounters when applicable.

Share Successes

If one of your dogs has been recently adopted, share it! Happy endings and positive messages are shared more often and more widely, so any good news for you is also good news your followers can help celebrate right along with you.

16 Beginner Dog Treat Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less

24 Feb

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Over the last two years we’ve amassed quite an impressive collection of dog treat recipes—and we’re constantly thinking up more! Trying your hand at the humble and hard to screw up dog treat is a great way to play around with baking. After all, dog treats are just very stale, sugarless cookies and dogs aren’t the pickiest when it comes to pet food ingredients. It’s a perfect combination when you’re just starting out as a baker.

If you’re looking to experiment in the kitchen a little bit, consider trying a few of our beginner dog treat recipes! We’ve rounded up a a few classics and a few interesting flavor combinations to try, all with five ingredients or less.

One (or Two) and Done

These treat “recipes” are the easiest of easy to make, because they contain one ingredient, maybe two at the most. Got a sweet potato or a banana on hand? Then you’re ready to get started.

  1. Dehydrated Bananas: If it’s safe for dogs, you can probably dehydrate it into a delicious treat for them! We’ve given our pups dehydrated bananas and mangoes, but the possibilities are pretty endless.
  2. Sweet Potato Jerky: We discovered sweet potato jerky very early on, and its still one of Topher’s favorite treats to work out of a Kong. Or, if you’re looking for a way to literally spice up your jerky treats, these turmeric and coconut oil “fries” were a huge hit last year!
  3. Dog Bone Fillers: Once you realize how easy it is to fill or refill an empty dog bone, you may never buy filled bones again. Last year we tested out three easy dog bone filler recipes, and we continue to use them to this day!
  4. Mango Coconut Fruit Leather: Fruit leather makes a great dog treat, or a great people treat! While the strawberry fruit leather technically has three ingredients, you could definitely leave out the honey if your strawberries are at their peak ripeness.
  5. Chicken Protein: It’s easy to add chicken breast protein powder to a dog’s treat. It provides a boost to their immune system and gives them a healthy dose of the protein they need.

Beginner Dog Treat Recipes

We started making treats at home because we wanted dog treats that weren’t a mash of strange chemicals or fillers. Then we kept making treats because it’s so fun to invent new combinations! Here are some of the treats we go back to again and again, because they come together almost effortlessly.

  1. Vegan Greenie Treats: Our take on the breath freshening treat, without all the ingredients you can’t pronounce. Want more breath freshening power? Just add more herbs!
  2. Peanut Butter Banana Oat: An effortless treat for when your dog has cleaned you out of house and home (what? Is that only Topher?) that uses true staple ingredients in our households.
  3. Classic Frosty Paws: While it might still be a bit too chilly for a frozen treat recipe, our classic take on Frosty Paws should be on any list for beginners. Simply pop all the ingredients in a blender, pour the mix into molds, and freeze! Easy peasy.
  4. Strawberry & Carob: Think chocolate and strawberries, for dogs! The carob and buckwheat makes these treats delightfully dark.

For Sensitive Dogs

For dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies, finding store-bought treats that don’t set off those sensitivities can be difficult. These five recipes are meant for dogs who can’t handle things like dairy or gluten. The best part? There are no strange fillers or unpronounceable chemicals, either!

  1. Gluten Free Ginger Apple: We call this one the ultimate stomach settler. Great for a pup who’s been feeling under the weather or for a simple treat that won’t aggravate other allergies.
  2. Cinnamon Sweet Potato: Another grain free treat that will make your house smell divine. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t thinking about making a cookie version of this for ourselves.
  3. Vegan Sweet Potato: The ultimate treat for dogs with allergies, this contains no gluten, no dairy. Plus, it needs only three ingredients!
  4. Quinoa, Peanut Butter & Carob: Gluten-free flours can be a little tricky, but they’re worth it in the case of these carob treats. If you can’t give your dog eggs, you can substitute coconut oil instead.

Weekend Fun

If you’re looking to step up from the beginner treat recipes and start playing with some new ingredients like herbs or funky vegetables, try on some of these treats. With only five ingredients, they won’t set you back much at the store while still allowing the chance to work with something new and different!

  1. Beet Mint Dog Treats: Since Ivana posted this recipe, I tried beets and they are indeed quite delicious. Your dog will think so too, trust us.
  2. Rosemary Sweet Potato: Inspired by some delicious gnocchi, the rosemary in these treats impart some great health benefits in your pup.
  3. Apple Cheddar: Cheese and apples don’t sound like a great combination, but Topher goes wild for these apple cheddar treats. Although, it might just be that sweet, sweet bacon grease.
  4. Beef & Carrot: Okay, I cheated by adding this dog treat recipe, since it has six ingredients—but these are a big favorite with Topher, and a fun treat to whip up on a weekend. Especially so if you’re like me and dabble in growing your own herbs.