For those of you who don’t know me well, I fall firmly into the “Thrifty Dog Ownership” category. Scoring deals on dog products and buying discount dog supplies helps me save money, which in turn helps fund higher quality products for my dogs.
So for this week, at the risk of exposing how freakishly cheap I can be, I’m going to share my creative tips for getting high quality dog supplies at reasonable prices.
Before You Start:
Remember, Ethics First
We all need to save money sometimes. We might look for sales. We might look for used products. We might borrow something instead of buying it.
That’s OK. But I want to remind everyone to take the high road when you save money and follow my First Golden Rule of Being an Ethical Thrifty Person:
Now that we’ve cleared that up, get ready to learn how to buy quality dog supplies on a budget.
Thrifty Dog Ownership Tips & Tricks
1. Buy in bulk – even if you can’t use that many!
When you are buying consumable dog products like dog chews, antlers, bones, and bully sticks, you can save considerable bucks by buying in bulk. Same goes for homemade dog food supplies.
Now, I know this isn’t a new idea, but where I get creative is in finding people to buy in bulk with. You may not know it, but there are a ton of ways to find groups to share in a bulk product order:
You would be amazed at the regional Facebook groups that exist and how specialized they are.
- Dog Food Facebook groups or Yahoo groups: These people band together to order ingredients for making homemade dog food.
- Breed Facebook groups: Have a Bernese mountain dog? Join a Bernese mountain dog Facebook group and see if other Berner owners in your area want to go in on a big order of dog chews or marrow bones.
- Dog Training Facebook groups: If you are a member of a clicker training group, band together with people in your area and bulk order those clickers! There are a lot of opportunities for discount dog supplies out there when ordered in large quantities.
To search for a Facebook group or Yahoo group you have to play with terms. You can type your city or state then the subject – “Minnesota Beagles” or “Minneapolis raw.” Or, just type “beagles” or “clickers” and read about the different groups out there.
Dog Training Class
If you are in a dog training class, it’s a GREAT way to order bulk. Dog treats, food, dog training tools – the sky is the limit. You save money in two ways, cheaper prices (from bulk quantities) and cheaper shipping (split the cost).
Dog Park Friends
Ditto what I said above. You all live close to one another (obviously), you all love your dogs a LOT, so why not band together and save on bulk orders?
2. Find Discounted Product “Seconds”
Have you ever been in your locally owned pet store and wandered by their clearance/seconds section? You never know what you will find.
Check these areas each time you shop at the store. What if the latest super-cool dog training tool arrived scratched or damaged and they are discounting it? Score! It still works, right?! So snatch it up.
Amazon Warehouse Deals will have the same type of thing, products that are scratched or missing their box that still function perfectly well. Not only big items are found here; even small items like dog chews can end up with discounts for damaged packaging.
Get notified when a warehouse deal exists! In Chrome, download the extension called “The Camelizer.” Navigate back to the Amazon product page, then click the camel icon to the right of the web address box. Set the price you’re looking for and you will receive an email if/when the price drops.
3. Buy Used Dog Training Tools
Once in awhile I find the dog training tool I’ve been wanting on sale in a used marketplace.
Here’s an example: I needed to train a few of my dogs that a doorbell ringing does NOT signal the need for a sudden, cardiac-inducing barking explosion. My trainer lent me her Treat & Train Remote Dog Trainer and it worked really well for this purpose.
But, I couldn’t afford a new one at that point in my life. So how could I find a used one?
Craigslist! I created a repeating Craigslist search and a few months later, someone listed one for $30. Woot! Woot! It lives in my dog training cupboard now, ready for training needs that arise.
Here’s the secret:
- Ebay: Set up a search on Ebay, and include the highest price you will pay. Once you set up the search, turn on email notification in your search list. Now you will get an email if someone lists the product you’re looking for in the price range you specified.
- Craigslist: Do a search for your product then refine it by the max price you will pay. When the results are displayed, click “save search.” When your search list appears, click the box in the “alert” column to turn email notifications on. Now you will get an email when someone lists an item matching your criteria.
- Text Notification: Do you rarely check your email? Want a text when someone lists your item on Ebay or Craigslist? In your email program, you can create a mail rule and have it forward your Craigslist or Ebay notification emails to your text address. Here is the rule to create:
For Craigslist email alerts, the rule should flag any email from email@example.com and forward the email to your text email address.
For Ebay alerts, make a mail rule for any emails that 1) are from from ebay.com and 2) have a subject that includes the word “match.” Forward it to your text email address.
How to forward an email to your text messages: This depends on your cell service provider. Google “how to forward email to text” + the name of your provider and you will see how to write it. For example, I forward my search emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Facebook Marketplace: This one is more frustrating; you can’t set up notifications and search results can’t be sorted by “most recently listed” first. But it’s still worth manually checking, you just have to put up with a random order of search results.
4. Use Your Local Library
You would be amazed at the selection of dog training videos and books at some local libraries. You can request that they purchase specific items also!
Many times I will check a book or video out first to see if I like it. If it resonates with me, then I invest in my own copy. When I don’t waste money on dog training videos/books that I don’t “click” with, I have more to spend on ones I will use again and again.
5. Sell Used Dog Equipment You No Longer Need
If you have used dog equipment you no longer need, sell it! Supplies like harnesses, crates, beds, and more sell on Craigslist and Ebay all the time. It’s a win-win, you raise money to use on equipment you need and someone else gets an affordable dog item that they need.
Other great venues to post your used dog supplies on include Facebook Marketplace, dog training facilities, and Facebook groups.
6. Make Your Own
There are some dog supplies and dog training tools that you can make on your own if you are willing to put the time in. Take a look at these do-it-yourself enrichment activities for dogs and this Pinterest list of homemade dog product ideas – you will be amazed at how many things you can make yourself!
7. Share With Your Friends!
If you are part of a dog group, make training your dogs or dog games a group effort!
Movie Night: Each of you buy a training video you’re interested in, and then have “movie nights” where you all get together and watch that person’s video then discuss it afterwards.
Training Tool Rotation: Each of you buy one cool, more expensive training tool that you would like to own. Every week, rotate your training tools. So the first week you use your new training tool, the second week you let another group member use it and you get to use his new cool training tool. This provides variety for your dogs, which usually means better training results.
Does Thrifty Dog Ownership Mean Only Buying Bargain Dog Training Tools?
Heck no. I spend more than I care to admit on new dog stuff. When I go to locally owned pet stores and browse online businesses, I soak up the knowledge they impart and buy from them.
Which leads me to my Second Golden Rule of Being an Ethical Thrifty Person:
Even though you can’t buy everything you want for your dog and support every good dog business, you can help spur sales for people who put in hard work. If you find a cool training tool, tell others about it. Post it in your dog groups. If you watched a cool dog video at a friend’s house, recommend the video to other dog friends. And if you find a great online pet store, share the website with others.
The point of Thrifty Dog Ownership is not to deny hardworking people or companies the income they have earned. If we’re thrifty, we can try more dog products that are on the market. This gives us more product knowledge to share.
Being thrifty AND ethical means promoting good products, supporting local stores, and sharing information about good dog products with all of our dog-owning friends. And using the money you save to buy more cool dog presents for your pup of course!
What’s Your Favorite Internet Site For Pet Shopping ?
So there you have it, Thrifty Dog Ownership in a nutshell.
Hopefully your mind is full of new ideas and methods to go out and find dog supplies to keep your dog motivated, well-trained, and happy.
Help the rest of us discover great online businesses by sharing your favorite online small business below. It can be an online pet store, a trainer that sells dog training videos, anything goes!