Hi there! I'm Hilary, BuzzFeed UK's Scotland editor. I have two adorable rescue dogs called Daisy and Skye.
Daisy is a 4-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier and Skye is an 18-month-old shar-pei cross. Having two dogs means Pets at Home gets most of my income – I buy toys, treats, grooming wipes, and training aids almost every week.
There are lots of DIY projects and tips online that claim to make looking after your dog much easier. So I picked five to try: a treat recipe, a grooming hack, a training idea, a DIY toy, and a cleaning tip.
HACK 1: Make your own dog shampoo out of Castile soap, coconut oil, and cider vinegar.
THE IDEA: The message behind this hack is that "taking your dog to a groomer can be hellah expensive". So instead, you should combine Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap (£5.75 for 273ml) with coconut oil and cider vinegar. The price of the soap made me a bit wary, as I can buy 500ml of dog shampoo from Pets at Home for just £4.50, but the all-natural ingredients appealed to me so I decided to give it a go.
NB: I did a patch test on Daisy first to make sure she wasn't allergic to any of the ingredients.
DID IT WORK? Hmm, well kind of.
THE RESULTS: The instructions were easy to follow, but the part where you're told to shake all of the ingredients together was tricky as the coconut oil just didn't want to dissolve. It was still a bit lumpy when I got around to using it, but despite looking like 2-week-old milk it lathered up really well and it got the dog squeaky clean so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Also, the whole concoction smelled exactly like marzipan. Yum.
Basically, if you want your dog to smell like cake, give it a try. The recipe is also totally free of synthetic chemicals, and kind to your dog's skin. It's not a money-saver though; the cost of the ingredients was £12 for around 300ml of shampoo.
COST: 2/5. RESULTS: 4/5.
HACK 2: Make treats out of carrot baby food, flour, and eggs.
THE IDEA: To save money on dog treats by making a batch of healthy dog biscuits at home using carrot baby food, two eggs, and plain flour. When I read the ingredients I was sure my dogs wouldn't go for them as they're used to pricey meat-based training treats that cost £3.79 for a 200g bag, but boy, was I wrong. They even loved the carrot puree on its own. Maybe they're secret vegetarians?
DID IT WORK?: Yes!
THE RESULTS: The dogs went crazy for these little biscuits, and they looked good too. The recipe called for a bone-shaped cookie-cutter so I bought a set of two, which cost £2.99 from Amazon. It was a bit tricky to free the dough from the cutter, but it was worth the effort. They also tasted good, like little carroty breadsticks. I would definitely serve these with a selection of dips at a dog-themed dinner party.
Even better, the dough yielded 45 biscuits and the ingredients only cost £1.43. Bargain! I'll definitely make these again, possibly using puréed chicken.
COST: 5/5. RESULTS: 4/5.
HACK 3: Make a "snuffle mat" to keep your dog busy.
THE IDEA: Create a "boredom-busting" toy for your dog by threading strips of fleece through a kitchen mat, then hiding treats underneath the material for your dog to "snuffle" out. The instructions suggested buying the cheapest material you could find, which for me was this garish and slightly terrifying £4.25 Bratz blanket.
Daisy helped me unwrap the blanket.
DID IT WORK? Yes, but it cost me my sanity.
THE RESULTS: I initially failed to notice that the instructions called for almost 300 strips of fleece material, all cut up by hand. That alone took bloody ages, and then the real fun began: weaving the fleece through the mat multiple times in an intricate criss-crossing design. I also foolishly decided that one kitchen mat was too small, so I tied two together to make a jumbo one before realising the scale of the project.
The dogs loved it and it definitely kept them busy, but the amount of work involved was crazy. The raw materials cost £8.24; you can buy snuffle mats for around £13, so unless you're on a budget, save yourself the trouble and do that instead.
COST: 3/5. RESULTS: 3/5
HACK 4: Stop your dog running away by lying down.
THE IDEA: If your dog runs away from you and won't respond to your calls, fall over and they'll be concerned and come back. I was interested to try this because Skye has a high prey drive and gallops off after small furry things with alarming regularity. Would the sight of me fake-collapsing bring her back?
HACK 5: Use rubber gloves to get pet hair off furniture.
THE IDEA: You don't need to "drag out the vacuum just to clean the couch"; instead, scrape pet hair off furniture using a pair of standard rubber gloves. My dogs are allowed on the sofa, mainly to keep me company during Netflix marathons, so naturally my furniture gets pretty doggy. I was keen to see if this would help.
DID IT WORK? Yes, but it was fairly time-consuming.
THE RESULTS: The ribbed rubber surface of the gloves clung to the hair well, and rolled it up into dainty little dog-hair sausages, but it took quite a bit of rubbing to get to that point. It took me 10 minutes just to do one sofa cushion. If you have a vacuum cleaner, it's definitely worth the "effort" of dragging it out instead.
COST: 4/5. RESULTS: 2.5/5.