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15 Crazy-genius life hacks for dog owners

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Dog ownership: easier than ever

Your pooch is a source of a lot of joy — and a lot of work. These creative dog-owner life hacks will make your life so much easier.

1. DIY food-stuffed tennis ball chew toy

DIY food-stuffed tennis ball chew toy

Photo credit: Heidi’s Old House

You can create your own food-stuffed dog chew to keep your little guy busy and anxiety-free while you're at work by carefully cutting a 1- to 1-1/2-inch hole in an old tennis ball. Then just fill the ball with everything from dog treats to peanut butter and cheese.

2. Carabiner security

Carabiner security

Photo credit: Pepper’s Paws

A carabiner is a metal clamp with a spring-loaded gate used by mountain climbers and in other safety systems to quickly but securely get a firm hold. Put the carabiner around the loop of your dog's leash when you go out, and you can easily secure it to any stationary object. You can also use it to connect multiple leashes to walk all your dogs at once.

3. Trick toothbrush

Trick toothbrush

Photo credit: practicalowl

If your pooch resists regular dental cleanings, spread a little enzymatic doggie toothpaste onto a rope toy or chewy bone toy (or similar) and let it go to town.

4. Dog hair-free carpet

 Dog hair-free carpet

Photo credit: Careabearasara

Use a squeegee to remove dog hair from the carpet before vacuuming. It's more effective and keeps dog hair from clogging your vacuum's rollers. It also works in your car.

5. Couch dog-hair grabber

Couch dog-hair grabber

Photo credit: The Borrowed Abode

Wet a rubber or latex glove, and use it to pick up the dog hair left on upholstery.

6. Dog food canister

Dog food canister

Dog food is easier to dispense if you store it in a large plastic pitcher or cereal container with an airtight lid, like this one from Buddeez (SpaceSavers, $6)

7. Semi-destructible stuffed toy

Semi-destructible stuffed toy

Photo credit: Leopold’s Crate

If your fur baby has a habit of ripping apart stuffed animals, use a Hol-ee Roller Ball stuffed with a treat surrounded by scraps of fabric. Your dog will spend all day yanking out the fabric to get to the treat, and you can just re-stuff it for next time, and your only extra expense is dog treats.

8. DIY flea and tick removers

DIY flea and tick removers

Photo credit: shoehorn99

Ticks are easier to remove if you dab them with a swab soaked in liquid dish soap. For fleas, mix one part each of Dawn and vinegar with four parts of warm water. Massage it in; let your dog sit in water for about five minutes. The fleas should float to the top of the water and die.

9. Storm chaser

Storm chaser

Photo credit: me and the sysop

If your dog flips out during thunderstorms, the problem may be a negative reaction to the static buildup in its fur. Rub it down with a dryer sheet to see if that helps.

10. Teeth trouble food options

Teeth trouble food options

Photo credit: dogsbylori

If your dog has failing teeth, mix a little chicken broth into its food and nuke it for 30 seconds. When your pooch is good, treat it to some homemade easy-to-chew treats.

11. Shower-caddy storage

Shower-caddy storage

Shower caddies aren't just for the shower. Hang one in the closet or garage, and you can store extra dog treats, care products and more in the shelves and hang leashes, harnesses and rain gear on the pegs. Depending on where you put it, you may need to be creative with installation, but try this InterDesign stainless steel model with deep, adjustable baskets. (Organize-It, $90)

12. Pool party

Pool party

Photo credit: wentzy

If your dog's a water hound (pun intended), fill an inflatable pool with cool water on hot days and stock it with plenty of rubber duckies and other fun chew toys.

13. DIY doggie stain and odor remover

DIY doggie stain and odor remover

Photo credit: thisisbossi

While you should always test DIY products in inconspicuous places first, we like this idea. Mix 1 cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with 2 teaspoons of mild liquid dish soap. For urine stains, mop up the liquid before beginning. Sprinkle the area liberally with baking soda, and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then use your liquid to scrub the baking soda into the fibers with a bristled brush. Let it dry, then vacuum it up.

14. Doggie scratching post?

Doggie scratching post?

Photo credit: Team Unruly

If your dog's a scratcher or digger, it might enjoy playing with a homemade toy it's allowed to scratch all it wants (no yelling from Mama). Take a plank of wood and glue on some sandpaper of varying coarseness… at least two. Stand it upright if your dog prefers, and let it scratch away. Just like an emery board.

15. Homemade pill pockets

Homemade pill pockets

Photo credit: An American Housewife

If you have one of those dogs that turns its nose up at vital medicine, trick it with a homemade pill pocket. Just mix peanut butter, milk and flour and roll it into balls, stabbing them with the blunt end of a chopstick to create the pockets. Store them in the fridge or freezer. I like to use crunchy peanut butter because my dog is less likely to detect the pill.

If you're worried your pup will get suspicious that it suffers certain side effects each time, you can just use them as regular treats sometimes, too.

More on dog care

Dogs and ice water: Is it safe?
9 Effortless ways to increase your dog's quality of life
8 Cute dog toys from the quirkiest shops on Etsy

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