Favorite Dog Products for Volunteering at the Shelter

Favorite Dog Products for Volunteering at the Shelter

Over the years of working with dogs, I have come across some favorite must have products. These products can really make a difference when walking dogs.

Mendota Slip Lead

If I had to pick the most valuable dog product that I have used, it would be this slip lead. There are various types of slip leads in the pet market, but I swear by the Mendota brand. When I first volunteered at the shelter, I was using those super thin, veterinary slip leads. Not only do those hurt your hands, but they are not safe for walking dogs for a long period.

Those are super easy to chew through and there is no stopper around the neck to prevent the dogs from slipping out if there isn’t enough tension on the leash. When I was introduced to the Mendota leash, I was super impressed. These leashes are so sturdy. I have had and used mine for years with hundreds of dogs. I throw them in the washing machine each week and hang dry them. They are still in wonderful condition.

Plus, they are way more comfortable for the handler and the dog. They are also a lot safer because there is an adjustable stopper so the leash doesn’t loosen around their neck. Not that this matters, but there are also a lot of cute colors and color combinations. I personally like to use the 6 foot slip lead since I primarily walk larger dogs.

I never walk a dog with a clip on leash to a collar anymore. Even with my own personal dogs, I will use a harness or just my Mendota slip lead. When I transport dogs, I use my Mendota. In fact, I have one in my car at all times because you never know when you’ll need it!

You might be thinking that this slip lead is pricey, but you are in for a surprise. The Mendota slip leads are actually pretty affordable considering the quality and durability. You can find them online via Chewy.com or Amazon.com along with pet stores.

Fanny Pack

Oddly enough, I did not start using a fanny pack at the shelter until last year. The main reason I got a fanny pack is so that when I go running outdoors, I had a place to put a stun gun, car keys, and my phone. I decided to use the fanny pack for walking dogs too as I can carry dog treats, poop bags, my phone, etc.

The bag I got from Amazon has an adjustable strap so it can either be worn around your waist or as a cross body bag. I’ve found that when I’m walking dogs, I prefer to wear it across my body versus around my waist like I do when running.

If you don’t like the look of the fanny packs or are looking for something a bit different, there are other bags that sit on your hip or mini book bags. I just think the fanny pack is the most functional for the various ways I use it.

It really has made carrying treats around easier at the shelter. I don’t have to shove a bunch in my tiny, tight jean pockets or carry a hug treat bag around with me while trying to walk a dog.

Dog Treats

Treats are a pretty obvious must have for volunteering with dogs. It really can make it easier to take dogs out for the first time, especially if they are afraid or defensive. I have found that it also can get the dogs to behave a little better while on a walk. I can usually get them to focus or sit because of the treats. Plus, they are shelter dogs. They don’t have a family to love on them yet. Giving them treats is exciting.

In my experience, it seems like most dogs prefer the soft or jerky type treats over the crunchy, hard treats. There are so many types and brands of treats on the market to choose from.

Cleansing Wipes

I don’t always have dog cleansing wipes on hand at the shelter, but I’m glad when I do when I meet a dog who needs it. There have ben dogs with a really dirty muzzles, ears, eye boogers, paws, or fur. Even though it’s not as good as a bath, it can help get some of that gunk off of them. It’s important shelter dogs look presentable so they have a better chance of finding a forever home. Just be sure you are using wipes that are actually safe to use on dogs and not just regular human wipes which could harm them.


Depending on the shelter you volunteer at, you may need other items such as poop bags, carabiner clip, or other specific items. These are just the main items I have found super useful.


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