How have dog toy offerings changed
over the past decade?
“Increasingly, consumers are looking for high-quality
products at affordable prices. They are less willing to
pay extreme markups for high-end brands but are even
more averse to paying less for low-quality products.
Value has become one of the biggest factors in the
shopping decision-making process.”—JENNIFERCAO,
co-founder and designer at ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif.
“Original toy concepts tended to center around basic dog shapes such as bones, balls
and simple teddy bear-shaped characters. Today’s consumers and their pups are look-
ing for more creative concepts, as well as interactivity, and eco-conscious products
that either utilize eco-materials and/or support the causes they care about.”—BILL
PARSONS, sales manager at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco
“They haven’t, really. There are plenty of copycats of popular
lines and some rehashes of existing toys. It’s difficult to find new,
original, safe, well-made, longer-lasting, priced-right (relative to
many factors), potentially popular toys, especially when you do a
lot of business in toys. Toys bring good profit, easy sales, repeat
business, human smiles and pet tail wags.”—LORINGROW,
owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif.
PLAYTIME BY DESIGN
When designing dog toys, Jennifer Cao, co-founder and designer at ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif.,
employs a variety of methods.
“I might create a toy designed around an exclusive new squeaker or discover a creative way
to use an awesome new fabric,” she said. “Throughout the design process, I focus on the core
essence of a toy—what purpose does it serve, and why is it unique?”
ZippyPaws toys are first tested for tensile strength and breaking point at the manufacturing
facility, Cao said.
“We also test the toys with our employees’ dogs, with a variety of sizes and breeds amongst
us,” she said.
Outward Hound has a similar approach to designing dog toys.
“From concept to production, we design toys around the many ways dogs and pet parents
interact, from alleviating boredom and chewing to mental stimulation, training or behavior
modification,” said Michael Parness, chief marketing officer of the Centennial, Colo.-based
A variety of office dogs serve as toy testers, as does the Outward Hound Woof Pack, a
5,000-plus-strong member group of pet owners who weigh in to assist in product development,
P.L.A. Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) is another manufacturer that uses its employees’ dogs to test
new toys, said Bill Parsons, sales manager of the San Francisco-based company.
“All of our toys go through rigorous testing utilizing the best of chewers and toy testers: our
own dogs,” Parsons said.
Creativity and engagement are key concepts, he added.
“Interactivity is another focus that is paramount to providing dogs with an enriching play
experience,” Parsons said.
At Worldwise, maker of goDog and Hear Doggy brands, toy innovation is focused on
fun, high-quality product solutions and safety, said Neil Werde, managing director of canine
development for the Novato, Calif.-based company.
“We take great pride in the fact that we adhere to ASTM child safety standards, addressing
the safety of the entire household,” he said.
CAITEC presents Hero Chuckles plush dog toys. The durable plush toys
come in a large size ( 9 in. by 5 in., with smaller sizes coming soon) with
cuddly animal characters. The pig, alligator, monkey and hippo are de-
signed with custom patterns with bright colors. Each character contains
the innovative, patented Chatterbox. The Chatterbox is a unique device
that has three distinct sounds including a crunch, squeak and chuck-
le—all contained within a protective tube for added safety. Depending
on how a dog points the toy while playing, it will emit a symphony of
sounds, keeping the pet engaged longer. caitec.com
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