Guide to Shopping for a Dog (especially one that isn’t yours)

Holiday shopping is hard enough but factor in allergies and chewing levels you’ll realize that a dog is the hardest one on the list to shop for! Then on top of that, you might be shopping for a dog that isn’t yours and that just makes your hard job 10 times harder! Sometimes we get caught up in what our own dogs may or may not like when shopping for other dogs that aren’t ours. To help you shop I’ve created this guide to follow and a printable that you can take shopping with you!

Find out what is off limits

  • For a solid year I did not allow squeaky toys in the house, have you ever heard these things? I did not want to have to ever have to listen to them!
  • Just ask the pup’s parents if there is anything they do or don’t want their dogs to have. Their answers might help you narrow down what to get them!
  • Everybody is different about what they do and don’t want their dogs playing with. Respect what they say because it’s not fair to trick the pup into thinking they get a cool gift only for their parents to take it away


  • Make sure the dog you’re shopping for doesn’t have any allergies!
  • Some common allergies in dogs are
    • Grains-look for grain free treats
    • Soy- look for soy free treats
    • Different proteins- Sahara likely has a lamb allergy, so I would choose a different protein like chicken, turkey, or beef. You would do the same thing, choose a treat or chew opposite of the allergen.
  • If they do have allergies make sure not to get any treats or chews that contain that allergen.
  • When in doubt, ask the parent of the dog with allergies what their favorite treat is! This can be a big help because they might be able to tell you a general idea like chicken jerky and you can choose from different brands or they might tell you a specific brand that is okay and you can choose from different products.
  • If they have lots of allergies choose the safe route and get a toy or accessory instead!

Find out what kind of chewer they are

  • Are they gentle and treat everything like its fragile?
    • Yes- perfect you have more options for choosing toys, plush toys and stuffed toys are okay to give them!
    • No- see below
  • Do they chew through everything?
    • Yes- stay away from plush and stuffed toys!! Even if they say they are for heavy or power chewers. I have a power chewer and no stuffed toy has ever lasted despite what the packaging says.
    • These are the types of dogs you have to thoroughly read reviews before shopping for! See what other people say about their power chewer and how the toy held up.
    • Sometimes chews are better than toys for heavy chewers because they can’t mess them up they are just a treat that takes longer to eat!

Size matters

  • Choose toys that are size appropriate.
  • Choosing toys that are too small is a choking hazard!
    • Small dogs get small toys and big dogs get big toys!
    • This goes for all toys most especially balls.
  • Another general rule of thumb is if it’s a toy made to be stuffed with treats there need to be two holes in the toy, again as a safety precaution.
    • If there is only one hole the dog can get their tongue stuck inside it and won’t be able to get it back out due to the suction, think about drinking a Capri Sun and getting to the end and the straw sticks to your tongue or lip.


  • Collars and bandanas are always fun but you need a neck measurement. You can either ask their parents what the measurement of the dog’s neck is or you can be super sneaky and measure it when their parents aren’t around for maximum surprise effect! Be sure to order in the middle of the size range where ever you are shopping so there is room to tighten or loosen it up if need be.
  • Tags are super easy to shop for because all you need is the dog’s name and a contact phone number for their parent, which you likely already know!
  • Leashes are probably the easiest thing to shop for because you don’t really need a size. You can choose from different lengths of leashes and different materials, everything from rope to fabric. The options are endless!


Pin or print this shopping list to make your holiday shopping a breeze!

Guide to Shopping for a Dog (especially one that isn't yours)

Need ideas for the perfect gift? Here’s my Ultimate List of the Perfect Dog Gifts!

What do you look for when shopping for a dog that wasn’t yours? Did you find it easy or hard? What did you get them? Tell me in the comments!

36 thoughts on “Guide to Shopping for a Dog (especially one that isn’t yours)

    1. Yeah allergies are huge for some dogs and they have very limited diets so its always safer to ask!

  1. Dogs can be so different and my family found the same. I remember one really liked pig’s ears as a Christmas treat, but others in the family wouldn’t go near them.

    1. I have to say that’s probably one of the only toys I’ve found to be truly universal for most dogs! It’s a good choice!

  2. These are great tips especially for your friends’ or neighbor’s dogs. I have to agree with the points as well. I’ll keep it in mind.

  3. These are great tips for shopping for any dog. I have to admit that a toy you can stick treats in must have two holes or dog can get tongue stuck in it is something I didn’t think about. Thanks for sharing the shopping tips.

  4. This is a good list! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I never thought about allergies! 🙂 We are lucky in Australia, there are so many treats around that are just sun dried pieces of meat – kangaroo is always a good choice, so we got all our family dogs kangaroo tails for Christmas – good for the big chewers as they will last a little while, and in the case of our tiny Shih Tzu it will last a few weeks, haha! 🙂

    1. I read about another Australian giving their dog kangaroo so I tried that and unfortunately, Sahara is allergic but it was its cool that you all have other proteins that aren’t very common in the States. Those tails sound fabulous though! I am a huge fan of chews that last longer than one sitting!

  5. Thanks for the tips!! I have a cocker spaniel and a chiweenie– luckily both aren’t allergic, but its put things in perspective for wanting to give gift to friends and family!!

  6. You are so right about allergies! Friends tend to bring snacks to my bulldog that he loves but always make him sick and vomit for hours…I wish they had asked before!

    1. Aw that was such a sweet gesture but I agree, I would rather not make our poor babies sick! If they bought him something that his stomach did agree with I would mention it to them and tell them how much he liked that one and that it didn’t make him sick so maybe they’ll remember for next time, then you can kind of drop in that certain things make his stomach upset! Hopefully he’ll get some yummy treats that don’t make him sick soon!!

    1. It’s so hard when they are allergic! I’m having trouble right now finding a dog food to stick with that she’s not allergic to, so I totally feel your frustration!!

    1. I’m so glad I was able to teach you something to be aware of, I think the allergies one is the one most people didn’t know but have taken to heart the most which is really important!

    1. Same here! I love finding new cool things for my dog its always so much fun! I make some treats too, it’s nice to know that I know everything that goes into them when I make them! Let me know if you have any good recipes!!

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