DISCUSSING DOG TOYS
Dog toys are easy to talk about with customers, but how can
retailers help them pick the right playthings for their pups?
Use Signage: To help customers find the right toy for their pet,
Lisa Hoffman and Michelle McConnell, co-owners of A Natural
Pet Pantry in Osprey, Fla., group toys by manufacturer; within the
groups, they arrange toys such as plush toys and balls by size and
“And then we use signs supplied by the manufacturers, like
Planet Dog and Ruffwear, above the sections,” Hoffman said.
“We try to incorporate toys with a variety of eye-catching colors,
various sizes and durability.”
That careful positioning, planning and placard use allows
retailers to let their shelves do the talking while their sales team
educates curious customers.
“Merchandising should include education,” Hoffman said.
Sized Right: “Dog owners should know there is no real ‘one size
fits all’ when choosing toys for their pets, said Emily Benson,
marketing director of Starmark Pet Products Inc. in Hutto, Texas.
“What works or is enjoyable for one dog may not be suitable for
Size matters, too, Benson said.
“Choosing the appropriately sized toy is also important, as
it can mean the difference in your dog playing with something
enjoyable versus something that becomes a hazard,” she said.
Play Preference: Mandie Sweetnam, product manager for
PetSafe, a brand of Radio Systems Corp. in Knoxville, Tenn., said a
dog’s play preference makes a difference.
“Knowing why and how a pet plays is the key to knowing
Animaganza: Anima Twist
what toys they need,” she said. “Prey drive, stress relief and sheer
boredom are many of the reasons dogs play, and it doesn’t always
come down to chewing. Dogs that are tough chewers may need
that ultradurable toy, but occasionally, they may also need a soft
toy they can really tear apart—under supervision, of course.”
Dogs aren’t the only ones who love new toys. Humans do, too, particularly when
they’re pet specialty retailers selling them to eager shoppers. Here’s what’s new from
a handful of dog toy makers.
“It’s a five-piece toy, so you can mix and match the pieces so they can be anything
from a kibble-dispensing ball to a dental rope toy to a toy with a chew inside,” said
A.J. Dewey, chief design officer at Everett, Wash.-based Animaganza. “Consumers
want toys that dogs can interact with and be engaged with, rather than just playing
on the ground chewing on it.”
Cycle Dog-Earth Friendly Pet Co.: Fuzzies!
“They are the ultimate combination of softness that dogs love and durability that
owners look for,” said Lanette Fidrych, president of Cycle Dog-Earth Friendly Pet Co. in
Portland, Ore. “The result is a line of toys that dogs will carry around all day.”
Petmate: Chuckit! Sport LX and Pro LX Launchers
“The Sport LX features a lacrosse-style basket for more throwing and catching fun,”
said Ryan Wills, director of toys for Arlington, Texas-based Petmate. “Our Pro LX
Launcher is designed for safety and fun in the dark for both the pet and family members. The more ‘players’ involved, the more fun the fetch games will be.”
Radio Systems Corp.: PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher
“Great for indoor or outdoor use, it features nine distance and six angle settings to keep
dogs entertained,” said Mandie Sweetnam, product manager for PetSafe, a brand of
Radio Systems Corp. in Knoxville, Tenn. “It can be used with batteries or the included
power adapter. It uses standard-sized tennis balls, so it’s great for most dogs.”
Ruff Dawg: Crunch
“We’ve taken some of our best rubber dog toys and given them a durable lining
that makes them audibly crunch when the dog bites down,” said Jerry Moffett, vice
president of sales and marketing for Worcester, Mass.-based Ruff Dawg. “Dogs
really love the crunchy sound and feel. We wanted to add another level of fun to our
Starmark Pet Products Inc.: Treat Ringer Toys
“These toys are all-new chewing challenges for dogs of all sizes and ages,” said Emily
Benson, marketing director of Hutto, Texas-based Starmark Pet Products. “Made from
extremely durable nylon, they are great for power chewers. There are four shapes
with different challenge ratings to choose from for easy to more challenging play.”
True Dogs LLC: SodaPup Rubber Toys
“The line includes our Rocket Pop and Beer Bottle treat dispensers, Bottle Top Flyers,
Pop Top tug toys and our Pupcorn Crazy Bounce Ball, inspired by a kernel of popcorn,”
said Adam Baker, founder and CEO of the Boulder, Colo., company.
ZippyPaws: Monkey Rope Tugz, Warriorz and Firehose Blasters
“We’ve seen the trend of creating more tough toys and new ways of engaging the
dog through play,” said Jennifer Cao, vice president of ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif. “We
wanted to create tougher toys to keep up with customers’ needs while maintaining
ZippyPaws’ mission of creating great designs and innovative squeakers.”
NEW DOG TOYS
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