The Sniff Test

The Sniff Test

Will your dog go for that new squeaky toy, sleep like a queen in a new bed, gobble those hand-made bakery treats—or turn up her nose at them all? The best way to find out might be an in-store sniff test.

Most pet-supply stores, from big-box to boutique, allow our furry friends inside, giving both human and canine a chance to test-drive the merchandise—or at least see what causes Buffy's ears to perk up.

Whether you're looking for something one-of-a-kind or just don't want to stand in holiday-season lines, you're sure to enjoy the boutique shopping experience as much as your dog will enjoy what you put under the tree or in her stocking. A few places to check out:

Alpha Dog, with two locations in Mill Valley, specializes in high-quality toys and treats that also are environmentally friendly. Vineyard Dog in downtown Napa is a dog boutique and bakery whose shelves are as much fun to peruse as a those fancy tasting-room gift shops up-valley. Best in Show in San Francisco is a specialty place in the Castro that caters to city dogs, while Wags & Whiskers in Walnut Creek bills itself as the region's premier "urban chic" boutique.

Biscuits in downtown San Jose carries specialty foods as well as party supplies and other products you won't see elsewhere, while Fideaux stores in in St. Helena and Healdsburg stock holiday-themed merchandise as well as some very unique dog toys. Also offbeat: Three Dog Bakery in Sonoma, whose "holi-dog" center includes a wide variety of gift sets for dogs and their owners.

Posted on: October 2, 2011

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