I’ve cycled through more pet supplies, toys, and other gear than I care to admit for my 75-lb rescued pit bull. Maybe it’s because of his troubled past and the fact that he is very emotional, but it’s taken a while for us to finally buy things that he enjoys and others that keep his behavior in line.

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1. Kong Wubbas

Kong Wubbas are some of the best and least destroyable toys for big dogs.

I have to hand it to the Kong Company to create a toy that lasts. I mean, he can really tear them apart, but it often takes months. However, he’s had a few Kong Wubbas that have lasted well over a year.

In addition to the material being tough, once they finally rip it open, there are balls to play with inside, so the toy is not destroyed. That rubber chicken in the top photo is by far one of his favorite toys, but it doesn’t last more than a day or two.

If you have a large pitbull or another breed of dog, I recommend the XL size which is tough to find in stores. He particularly loves this floppy ear Wubba with a dog face (it’s cute).

2. Pet Corrector

I recently discovered Pet Corrector and wish I would have known about it earlier. It’s a humane way to break bad habits. Press on the nozzle and an inert gas causes a sound like a hissing snake (the dogs are also sensitive to a sound it emits that is inaudible to humans).

It’s basically like a little air horn. It works like a charm. If I open the door and he wants to rush over to see who is there, all it takes is one press of the nozzle to send him back where he’s been trained to sit while we welcome guests.

3. The Right Dog Collar

You may experience some trial and error (and expense) before you find the right collar for you and your dog.

Our very excellent dog trainer recommended a Sprenger collar (or prong collar). It was only later that I learned that their prongs make them a bit controversial. I raised this issue with a number of people and when it comes to a dog like mine, his neck is so thick that he doesn’t feel much of anything.

I cycled through a chain collar, multiple harnesses, and a standard nylon collar and the Sprenger is by far the best way for me to control such a strong dog.

4. A Good Leather Dog Leash

The first thing our trainer said to me is that cute nylon leash and collar set wasn’t going to do the trick. When big dogs pull nylon leashes, owners risk having fingers and skin pinched. They’re just not as comfortable to hold. It took some time to get used to it but a 6-foot leather dog leash is now what we use.

5. Good2Go Reversible Dog Jackets

Learn tips for rescuing a dog

This may not be essential gear for dogs with longer hair, but short-haired dogs like pitbulls get cold. It took us a while to figure this out. Yes, we live in San Diego. But, he has barely any fur. When he’s cold, he buries his nose under whatever he can find and tucks his legs underneath his body… my daughter calls this his “jelly bean” look.

This goes away when he wears a big dog sweater. I’ve cycled through a few different styles but the one that is easiest to take off and big enough to keep him warm is this one by Good2Go. I think you can only buy it at PETCO.

However, the market for XXL-sized sweaters is not high, so you might be better off ordering them online as these sizes are often sold out or not carried in our local store.

5. A Soft Blanket

Seriously. I have a soft, puffy chenille blanket (see above) that was given to us as a wedding present. It’s his now. When it’s really cold, he’ll both wear a sweater and hide his nose underneath the blanket. It also seems to comfort him when he boards and when it rains (he is scared of thunder).

6. A Bolster Bed

We started with a mat-style bed, but he never seemed to settle in it well. Not only does the bolster-style dog bed (pictured above) provide extra warmth since they can cuddle up against the high side, but it also provides an extra sense of security for them. We could also buy a great one at Costco for about $40 that we keep in the kitchen.

7. Sunscreen

Dogs get melanoma. This happened to a friend of ours and it was devastating. And, if your dog has a pink or fair-skinned snout, sunscreen is especially in order.

It takes a few seconds to swipe some My Dog Nose It on his nose if he’s going to be in direct sunlight for longer than a few minutes here or there.

8. Small Snacks

If your big dog tends pack on the pounds like mine does, small snacks for good behavior or just because can be helpful to keep around. We like Riley’s Organics snacks because they’re made with good ingredients, he likes them a lot and are about the size of a thumbnail.

9. Bag Balm

If your dog suffered from cracked paw pads (common with allergy dogs), keeping a tin of bag balm around helps heal this and smooth out any rough edges. I even use it on my feet. It’s awesome.

10. Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Vest

We live close to SeaWorld San Diego where fireworks are common in the summer. He also gets incredibly anxious when thunder happens during rainstorms. The key to a Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Vest working properly is to put it on your dog before the traumatic event occurs. Now, this can be hard to presage but do your best because it does work.

Do you have any other tips for big dog gear? 

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Sorry, not following this site anymore on any social media due to:
    3. “Sprenger Collar
    Our very excellent dog trainer recommended a sprenger collar (or prong collar). It was only later that I learned that their prongs make them a bit controversial. I raised this issue with a number of people and when it comes to a dog like mine, his neck is so thick that he doesn’t feel much of anything. I cycled through a chain collar, harness and a standard nylon collar and the sprenger is by far the best way for me to control such a strong dog.”
    I suggest a nose harness (if you can find one to fit), training, and other humane ways of walking your already traumatised rescue.

    1. I’m fine with this because we sought a lot of advice the type of collar to use and have spent thousands of dollars on good, ongoing training that probably saved his life. Also, the nose harness did not work for us as we gave that a good try. Our vets know we use a sprenger collar, too, in case you were wondering. Thanks for letting me know!