If you follow adventure-dog accounts on social media, then most likely you’ve noticed a rise in popularity of Rex Specs: goggles designed specifically for dogs. Like us, you may have thought to yourself: “ok, so they look cool, but is it just a gimmick to get more followers?” We were curious too, so we contacted the company, and met up with one of the owners, Jesse, this past spring at the GoPro Games. Right away, we were impressed by how down-to-earth Jesse is, and how driven he is to create a functional, durable, eye-protection for all kinds of dogs. In fact, the company was originally started due to medical conditions of Jesse’s own dogs. We were given a pair to try and set off right away to start training Bella on wearing them.
If you are interested in using Rex Specs, here are two important questions to ponder: What is your dog’s need for Rex Specs, and how much time are you willing to spend training your dog to wear Rex Specs?
What is your dog’s need for Rex Specs?
There are three main reasons we can think of where Rex Specs would be especially useful: protection in harsh adventuring environments, protection for dogs with medical conditions, and protection for working dogs. In some cases, these realms may even overlap.
Our needs with Bella fall into the harsh adventuring environments. For example, high UV conditions, wind/sand, and blowing snow and ice at high altitude. Colorado is a high UV danger state, and when we took up stand up paddleboarding (SUP) this year, we realized that eye protection would be the responsible thing for Bella, particularly when on the water midday. She developed a skin tag on her lower eyelid last spring, and while the vet assured us it was harmless (it did go away on its own), I felt that we could do a better job of protecting her from the sun. Finally, blowing wind that kicks up sand or snow have clearly bothered her in the past, such as when backcountry snowshoeing at altitude and exploring in Sand Dunes National Park. In these conditions, Bella sometimes runs around wildly, whines, and tries to dig a hole to get out of the wind. Other environmental concerns might include wind and bugs while riding in vehicles, or rocks and dirt kicked up while mountain biking.
We don’t have experience with using Rex Specs for medical needs, so we reached out to @thepickletrails via Instagram, who’s dog Lander has Pannus, an eye condition which affects the cornea and third-eyelid of dogs. Here is what @pickletrails had to say about Lander and his use of Rex Specs:
Lander was diagnosed with Pannus at the age of two. Colorado is a Mecca for this disease with our high altitude and sunshine. Per vet prescription, Lander has been taking drops twice a day and we were also told to stay out of the sun during high UV hours…basically 9am to 6pm during summer days. Thankfully I had heard of Rex Specs and did some more research into Pannus and UV. With the help of Rex Specs used on our hikes during high UV hours, Landers eyes are improving and he needs less drops! We are so thankful to have an eye protection option that blocks out harmful UV rays and allows us to venture out during the day still.
Working dogs also can benefit from Rex Specs, such as hunting dogs that run through dense brush and brambles, or military dogs that encounter hazardous situations regularly as part of their job.
How much time are you willing to spend training your dog to wear Rex Specs?
If you are considering Rex Specs, you should be prepared to use some patience and at least some time while easing your dog into the process…possibly even quite a bit of time. Wearing goggles will most likely feel strange to your dog at first, and you want your dog to make a positive association with the goggles right away. Every dog is different, and some will take longer to adjust, while some may take no time at all! Be sure to check out Rex Specs “Fitting and General Use” page for some great training tips and instructional videos.
In our experience, Bella was not very tolerant of the Rex Specs in the beginning. In fact, she tried to paw them off the first second we put them on. We kept sessions very short at first and kept her distracted while they were on by asking her to do tricks and offering treats. We also followed the training tips on the Rex Specs website by starting with the empty frames first, then moved to the clear lenses, and finally the tinted lenses. We found that feeding Bella with the goggles on bothered her at first, so we initially focused on giving treats while she was is looking up, then eased into eating while looking down. Running and changing directions also made her extra unsure of herself, so we practiced in small stages up and down the stairs at home for a few days with treats. For our first adventure outside with Rex Specs, we opted to have Bella wear her goggles while SUPing. Because she had to balance and wasn’t shifting directions or moving quickly, this helped her get used to the goggles on her face before taking up faster-paced activities. After a break of using the Rex Specs for several weeks, we took up practicing with short training sessions again at home before heading out for a fall trip to Sand Dunes National Park. Future adventures with Rex Specs for us include high altitude snowshoeing for blowing ice and UV protection.
If like us, you’ve determined that Rex Specs could help protect your dog’s eyes, then we think it’s definitely worth the investment of the goggles as well as the time put into some extra training. I found our short training sessions enjoyable, as Bella enjoyed having something new to learn, and made me put aside everything else at home to spend some quality 1:1 time with her. Bella still needs a little more experience with the goggles for longer wear on fast-paced adventures (in these cases, we currently save them for the windiest conditions, such as exposed summits at higher elevations). If Bella had a medical condition, you’d bet we would be practicing every day, but right now we are happy to ease her in and bringing them along only for the necessary trips. Her Rex Specs give us peace of mind that her eyes are protected even in the harshest of environments.
Of course, if you are interested in Rex Specs, then you probably want to know that you are investing in a durable, well-designed product. Here is a summary of our findings while using the product:
- We found that Rex Specs frames, lenses, and straps were designed extremely well to fit a dog’s face, and are highly adjustable to fit different breeds and face sizes (again, check out this page for fitting instructions).
- The lenses are very tough, made of flexible polycarbonate, are impact resistant, and offer UV protection. Bella scratched her mirror lenses a bit on the Dunes, but her smoke and clear lenses don’t show scratches much. The mirror lenses look cool, but it would have been better for us to hold off with that pair until she was better trained to not scratch at them and use the smoke lenses on sunny days (the clear lenses also offer full UV protection). However, the scratches don’t impact her vision/functionality of the lenses.
- The frames are lightweight, and integrated breathable mesh and foam keep your dog comfortable, and allow moisture to drain. In the case of the Dunes, we did need to take them off frequently when we had a reprieve from the wind to check for any trapped sand.
- The wide lenses provide an optimal field of vision, and also make them more comfortable for the dog. We tried another goggle style of a few years back as a joke, and the small diameter of the individual lenses irritated Bella to no end, so we never did keep them on her for longer than a moment. She does much better with the Rex Specs.
- Bella has no problem eating, drinking, panting, running, and doing all normal dog things while wearing Rex Specs. When she’s not moving quickly, such as when paddleboarding, she can currently tolerate her goggles for about 1.5-2 hours before requiring a break. In active conditions, she’s worked up to about 20-30 minutes in one go before she needs a break.
- Bella is noticeably more at ease in windy conditions with blowing debris while wearing Rex Specs.
Having Bella wear her Rex Specs on our latest trip to Sand Dunes National Park definitely helped her confidence to stay on the dunes at higher elevations for longer, even in high winds. However, she started showing signs of frustration and discomfort as we pushed to summit Star Dune (the highest dune in North America), so we ultimately cut that hike short. To be honest, constant blasts of sand to the face caused by a very windy day wasn’t particularly enjoyable for us humans, either.
We know that when taking Bella on big adventures, it is paramount that we make sure ALL of her needs are taken into account. We know she can’t say “hey guys, this is too much, I’m not having fun anymore.” She also never woke up one morning and said, “hey I think it would be great if we all got up at 3 am this morning and then drove some great big snowy mountain and then hiked it with relentless pellets of ice blasting my head for the last 3 miles.” She also doesn’t understand that even with her brown eyes and black mask, strong UV rays from the sun could be hurting her.
If you have a need to protect your dog’s eyes, then the bottom line is that there really isn’t anything else even close to comparable to Rex Specs on the market!
Learn More from the Rex Specs’s Website:
and, check out Rex Specs at Backcountry K-9