Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers

< A version of this article was published in the December 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News>

The holiday gift-giving season is upon us, and for many of us, that means finding that special something for our friends with dogs. I believe that one of the best gifts we can give is knowledge, so here are my recommendations for three books and one DVD that are perfect gifts for dog lovers everywhere.

A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! by Niki Tudge –If your family includes children and a dog, if you have children that spend time around friends and family members that have a dog, or if you have a dog that spends any time around children, you, your children, and your dog will benefit from your reading A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!.

The goal of this new book from author Niki Tudge and Doggone Safe is to provide a resource that anyone can use to teach children how to be safe around dogs by teaching them how to “speak dog.” As a dog training instructor that teaches both adults and children how to train their dogs, we make teaching canine body language part of our classes. What I have learned over the past 22 years is that before taking a dog training class, even most adults are not aware of most aspects of “speaking dog,” which is why I believe this book will be of value to both children and adults.

A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! is written to be used as an interactive resource and uses cartoons and photographs to illustrate body language dogs use to signal when they are happy, afraid, and angry. By teaching children, and adults, how to read and respond to these signs the book helps keep people and dogs safe. The world is full of children and dogs, and it is essential that we teach them how to interact safely. A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! combined with a parent or teacher does just that.  I give this book five paws!

Hope for Someday by Vincent Ewald, illustrated by Tom Leigh – Written by Ark Executive Director, Vincent Ewald, and illustrated by Ark Board President, Tom Leigh, Hope for Someday is a beautiful picture book for children. It is the perfect book for teaching children that pets experience the same emotions as people. By learning that our pets share these feelings, it is hoped that our children will learn the importance of compassion for all living things. The book is the core of The Ark Animal Shelters PippY (Positively Inspiring Pet Programs for Youths) program, and all proceeds from the sale of the book directly support that project.

My last two selections are a DVD and a book which address pet nutrition. This is such an important topic and one where the world is filled with a great deal of misinformation such as the advertisements we see on TV. The documentary film Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry by director Kohl Harrington examines the megalithic corporate entities that produce and market the vast majority of what we feed our pets. What Harrington shows us is not always pretty nor healthy for our pets. Two of the veterinarians that appear in the film; Dr. Barbara Royal and Dr. Karen Becker explain what our pets need to eat to be healthy, and what you need to look for in a food if you desire optimum health for your pets. You can watch Pet Fooled at and on Netflix or purchase it at the Apple iTunes store.

I first heard Dr. Richard Patton speak about pet nutrition at a conference in the fall of 2015. I was so impressed with the depth of his knowledge and his ability to speak in terms that the average pet owner could understand, that I invited him to speak in Bangor six months later. His book Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack addresses two of the most significant health crises facing our pets; obesity and poor nutrition. If you want to learn how to feed your pet for optimal health, I encourage you to read this book.

I was so impressed by the quality and importance of the information in Pet Fooled and Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack that I provided many veterinarians in the area with copies as a gift.

No matter which of the holidays you celebrate this time of year have a very joyous season!


Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog ( )

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton

Pet Nutrition – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show ( )

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harrington

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton


Web Sites

Doggone Safe

Doggone Safe on Facebook –

Dr. Richard Patton –

Hope for Someday –

Pet Fooled

Pet Fooled on Facebook –

Ruined By Excess Perfected By Lack –

The Ark Animal Shelter –

The Ark Animal Shelter on Facebook



Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( ) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at Don also writes about pets at his blog: He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©2DEC17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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