In 2019, I spent $2,747.31 on dog products. I own one dog. I don't pay for dog kibble. I had a problem. In 2020, I decided to cut down on my spending and watch what things I was buying for Diego. I ended the year with spending $679.37 which included a custom made dog sleeping bag, donations to a Koala Hospital and giveaway prizes. I thought I would put together some of my tips. Some of these might be obvious, and others are definitely aimed more at dog instagram owners.
1. Don't buy treats
Honestly, I don't buy treats. Yes we are lucky enough to be gifted Salmon from Omega Plus, however even without this I wouldn't buy treats. I believe trick training, and training in general is vital for improving your relationship between dog and owner so I would never tell you not to do this. However, instead of specifically buying treats for training use your dogs daily kibble allocation. This can not only make each meal a more exciting time, it will mean you can work on your bond once or twice a day. It also prevents you over feeding your dog on treats. If your dog won't do work for their normal kibble, another idea is to buy a different kibble specifically for training sessions. I usually recommend Ziwi Peak for this as it is like dried jerky meat, but a lot cheaper when you buy it in the bigger kibble bags. Now, I know some dogs won't even perform for this, and that's where a dehydrator can become your best friend. Holly from Adventures with Bosch taught me this and gosh it is an amazing idea. Instead of buying small bags of dried meats, you can make them yourself. Buying offcuts of meat, and internal organs are super cheap and then you just need to put them in the dehydrator and viola, your own high reward treats. The expense of the dehydrator may be bigger at the start but with continued use you will really see the price of treats drop. I think this is a great idea especially if you have more than one dog, or you yourself might like dried treats like fruit or meals for hiking.
2. Dog poo bags....
A big goal of mine over the last year, and progressing into the future is being more eco-conscious. The biggest hurdle is dog poo bags with being eco-conscious. I recommend paying for bags that will compost and therefore be better for the environment. However, if you are really trying to save money this is a good place to start. When out walking there are a few options on how to dispose of your dogs waste. The first would be to re-use bread bags, sandwich bags and other soft plastics. If you already purchase these, you are likely to throw these away anyway so may as well reduce the amount of plastic by reusing these rather than using a specific poo bag. The other option is that a lot of local dog parks and walks now have dog bags available for your use. If you pay for council rates for your dog, I believe you are entitled to these. Take a couple so that instead of buying them, you can just use these free ones that are publicly available.
3. Buy one good quality toy
As you all know, there are hundreds of different dog toys on the market at the moment that appeal to all different dog breeds, sizes, food style and play style. I think my biggest tip is to buy a very good quality toy, and just buy the one. It will be more money up front, but since it shouldn't be destroyed you won't have to replace it like it's cheaper counterparts. I also don't believe you need multiple different enrichment toys for your dogs, one is plenty. If your dog is a kibble eater I would suggest the Kong Genius Leo. If your dog eats raw or wet food I would suggest the WestPaws Toppl. Otherwise, a good general dog toy would be the Extreme Kongs. If you have one of these toys, I don't believe you need any of the others. It may mean you need to fill the enrichment toys every night/day rather than prep them weekly, but it will save you a lot of money. And I repeat, do not buy the cheap imitations. It is never worth it. Unless you own a very small dog that doesn't really do much to their toys. Then maybe it is worth it.
4. Organise your dog stuff
Do it. Get everything you own related to your dog and look at it. Sort it into piles to see how many of each product type you have. I ended up hanging mine in a cupboard and sorted it by collars, leads, bandanas and dog coats. I learnt that I had way more collars, leads and bandanas than I would ever need. Once your stuff is organised you not only will be able to use the products you already own more, you will also know you don't need anything else. Next time you are tempted to buy a new dog product, you can go to your organised dog stuff and see if it is worth it to buy that new product. This stopped me buying a lot of cute collars and bandanas over the last year.
5. Give yourself time
I think this is my most important tip. Instead of buying something the minute you see it, or buying it because you were buying something else and saw it on the website, wait a few weeks to a month. Don't fall into the trap of buying something cause it is 'exclusive' unless you had already been looking for that exact product. If it isn't a time sensitive product, you can wait a couple weeks to a couple months to decide whether you actually want it. If after this time you forget it, or move onto something else than that is a great sign not to purchase it.
6. Work out its per use cost
Lucky last tip, work out how much the product will cost per use. If you already have two dog collars, how much use is this third collar going to get? Will it be used more than 100 times? Is the per use cost high? Be realistic on this one. To work out the per use cost, you get the total cost of the product (including shipping costs) and then divide it by the times used within the next three months, year, or dogs life. For example, a dog lifejacket is $150, I would use this with Diego realistically once a week in Summer, and no times during Winter. The per use cost for the Summer would be $12.50. If Diego is to live another 8 years, the per use cost for the remaining life would be $1.56. I would consider this a bad purchase, and then look for either a cheaper lifejacket or scour for a second hand one. I made a bigger purchase in 2019 by buying a custom made dog bed by Jeddy Bear Tugs and Toys, however, I worked out that this would be used nightly by Diego to make him comfortable when moving from sleeping in my bed to the crate. It was about $120, but has got the most use out of anything I have purchased in the last few years. He uses it daily and choses to sleep on and in it whenever possible. This would mean that the yearly cost per use would be $0.32. With this, it would be also good to make sure you buy good quality, like in tip 3 so that they do last for multiple years meaning the cost per use is even smaller.
I would love to hear what you think, and if you have any other great money saving tips!