Here’s What You Need to Get Dog Lovers: The Drive Holiday Gift Guide
It’s time to dog.
Many dogs I've known love car rides. Bramble, the merle dog who lives with me, hops into an empty car seat every chance she gets. Once I realized that a lot of my friends love dogs and cars as well, I figured more of you might benefit from my online shopping research! If you're getting a gift for somebody who's into dogs and cars (maybe that somebody is yourself?) here's a nice little list of inspirational ideas.
You'll see a little more of dogs and cars together on The Drive in 2023. Our new Will It Dog? series will review cars from the perspective of a dog owner, focusing mainly on answering: "How easy would it be to live with this car when it comes to carrying my dogs around?"
Expect thorough car testing by Bramble and her fluffy family soon. Meanwhile, let's get to our list of dog-and-car-related merch ideas:
I mean, come on—how cute are these?
Car Chew Toys
All those fuzzy, chewable dog toys are hilarious but they do have squeakers. If you're looking for something a pup can play with in a car without driving the other occupants crazy, Amazon sells an allegedly "ultrasonic squeaky toy" only dogs can hear that you could try.
Here's something that happens to me all the time: I take my dog somewhere for a walk or whatever, and of course, she had to pounce into every puddle we passed. By the time I get back to the car, she's a filthy little mud monster and I cringe as she flings swamp all over my cockpit. "I'll get a towel specifically for the car," I tell myself, and yet by the time I get home I've completely forgotten about it.
No more procrastinating, now's the time to grab one.
A Racing Seat for Napping
OK, so, this is a lot of money to spend on something silly—but I've had a set of Corbeau retro-style racing seats in my garage from a scuttled project and Bramble absolutely loves hanging out in them. I like sitting in them quite a bit myself—so much so that I think I'm going to leave them as permanent installations in my basement instead of a car.
- Corbeau Baja Low Back Seat ($299.00 and up)
Travel Bottle and Bowls
Many dog owners will already have something like a mobile watering station. But if they have multiple cars, they might still be able to use another one.
- PETKIT Water Bottle feeder (sleek) ($12.99)
- Just Pets bottle and collapsable bowl (industrial style) ($19.99)
- Springer traveling bottle ($21.99)
Poop Dag Dispenser
Poop bag dispensers are another item most people with canine pets need to acquire early on. But it never hurts to have a bonus one you specifically leave in the car and can grab on walks.
- PetAmi dog bag dispenser (looks like a cute little backpack) ($12.99)
- MalsiPree dog back holder (sleek design) ($8.99)
- Kurgo Duty bag (looks a little tactical) ($11.97)
Cutesy Whimsical Stickers
You've really got to know your audience for some of these. As an aesthetic, it's leaning dangerously close to Target store-brand Live, Laugh, Love signs made of synthetic wood. Or, maybe that's your thing! There's also high ironic comedy potential with something like this. Imagine one of these dog-tail rear windshield wipers on, like, a JDM Toyota Chaser? That'd be amazing.
- Personalized dog stickers, pup jumping through window ($16.95)
- Pet portrait decals, outline illustration style ($10.00 and up)
- Dog decal, the tail is the rear wiper ($10.98 and up)
- Dog on board, cargo-ID style decal ($4.05 and up)
Dog "Road Bag" Luggage
Bramble has her own little mini duffle bag that my wife and I pack with treats, a toy, and water—stuff she needs for adventures. Something like one of the items below can be a cute and useful animal accessory! Don't worry about trying to buy a bag specifically for dogs, all you need is some kind of portable vessel. In fact, I might suggest looking for a duffle bag made for kids. That will be small enough to easily stash even in a car like a Miata or GR86.
You can usually find luggage branded with aftermarket tuner company logos, but in my experience, most of these are cheaply made and disappointing.
- BuyAgain 12-inch mini duffel (neutral, unbranded design) ($14.99)
- Choco Mocha duffel (bigger, fun patterns) ($26.99)
- Adidas Diablo (sporty looking) ($18.75 and up)
- Puma Evercat (streetwear aesthetic) ($15.99)
Make a Little Dog-Specific Car Cleaning Kit
If you do decide to get somebody a little cargo bag for their dog as a gift, consider stuffing it with some dog-specific car care products. I find myself going through a lot of window wipes (dog snot inevitably ends up on windows) and I often find myself wishing I had some kind of deodorizer or a pet hair-specific brush. I'm telling you, fluff covers every surface in your car in short order.
- Lilly Brush Pro pet hair tool kit ($32.95)
- Chemical Guys Professional rubber pet hair removal brush ($7.99)
- Dasksha pet hair brush ($12.97)
- Windex wipes ($4.49)
A Custom License Plate With Their Dog’s Name
In case it isn't obvious: these are not legal for road use. But novelty prop license plates can be had from a few different sources and make a fun decoration. I'll link to the retailer I used to get Bramble's—it's not embossed, but it's definitely nice enough to display in an office or garage.
- Printlabz USA custom license plate ($13.45)
If you want a higher quality item, it looks like this site does custom embossed plates for considerably more money.
- Licenseplates.TV custom plates ($100.00 and up)
Dog Seat Belt Harnesses
As much as people love their pets, spending over $100 on a harness (or even using a harness specifically for car rides) can seem tough to justify. The risk of animal injury in even a low-speed car accident is real, though. And not to end a cute shopping list with somber thoughts, but even a small breed could get hit with serious force in a panic stop or collision.
That makes a dog seat belt a good gift idea for somebody who doesn't have one—and they might not, I keep seeing pet websites cite this stat from AAA that "only 16% of people who transport their dogs used proper restraint devices."
But the key word there is proper. There are many seat belt harnesses for dogs on the market but very few are actually certified as crashworthy. The arbiter of such things is a non-profit consumer advocacy organization called the Center for Pet Safety. As of this writing, CPS has certified just two brands and three models of dog safety harnesses: the Säker Ascension, Sleepypod Clickit Sport, and Sleepypod Clickit Terrain.
That doesn't explicitly mean those are the only three safe dog car harnesses on the market, but it does provide a huge boost of crash-worthy credibility and peace of mind for the pet owner using it.
The Säker harness is only available on pre-order. In my family, you can get away with a "your gift is in the mail" note at Christmas so that might still work for you.
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