Work the Behavior Problem
As dogs spend more time with their owners, problem behaviors—and
products that help alleviate these issues—are getting more attention.
BY LINDSEY GETZ
As dogs continue to be embraced as “members of the family,” owners have become more in- terested in training and behavior products that
assist with obedience or help address problems, such
as anxiety. Dog owners want the best for their pets,
but they also want them to be on their best behavior
as they spend more time with them daily.
“Pet owners are definitely looking for solutions
to problems they are experiencing at home with their
pets,” said Emma Burkinshaw, registered veterinary
nurse (RVN) at Pet Remedy USA, a brand of Podi-
um Pet Products in Lake Worth, Fla. “As more pet
owners become educated on signs and symptoms
of problems—such as stress and anxiety—they are
more likely to look for solutions.”
The desire to improve dogs’ behavior also results
in growing consumer interest in training and obedi-
ence classes—and buying corresponding products.
Darrell Perkins, co-owner of Fin & Feather Pet Cen-
ter in Richmond, Va., said that he has witnessed a
surge in demand for training classes in recent years.
While it goes against the do-it-yourself mentality
that many people have adopted, Perkins said that
when it comes to training, most dog owners would
prefer some professional help.
“There was a time when dog owners wanted to
do their training on their own, but now I’m getting a
lot of requests for professionals in our area,” Perkins
Laura Gustafson, store manager at H3 Pet Supply
in Stratford, Conn., agreed. She said that she has no-
ticed that more owners are inquiring about training
and behavior products, and she has been getting a
lot more requests for professional referrals.
“It’s a time management issue,” Gustafson said.
“People just don’t have a lot of free time these days,
and if they can attend a class or they can find a prod-
uct that helps meet their training needs, then they’d
rather invest in that.”
Treats seem to remain a popular training tool
for most retailers. Gustafson said H3 Pet Supply
sells quite a few treat pouches that owners take to
Sarah Ercolani, president of Fun Time Dog Shop
in Whitmore Lake, Mich., said small-sized, healthy
training treats are the most popular training-related
products she sells.
“Customers especially want really high-value rewards for this purpose—not your everyday treats,”
Ercolani said. “Great choices include a single-source
protein such as beef, salmon or liver in as pure a
form as possible. Treats that have a strong aroma are
especially rewarding to dogs as well. Dog owners
also want treats with a light color that can be easily
seen in the grass or on a dark training surface such as
black matting often used at training facilities.”
HIGHLIGHT HELPFUL PRODUCTS
Once customers are in the store, displays go a long way in driving their interest in
behavior and training products.
“We use signage and special areas of our treat section to emphasize treats that
are especially good for training,” said Sarah Ercolani, president of Fun Time Dog Shop
in Whitmore Lake, Mich. “Displays are always a great way to educate customers on a
specific collection you are highlighting. Several times per year, we also add a section to
our newsletter highlighting products that are helpful for training.”
A display with a stuffed animal alongside the product is usually eye-catching, said
Emma Burkinshaw, registered veterinary nurse (RVN) at Pet Remedy USA, a brand of
Podium Pet Products in Lake Worth, Fla.
“The display should highlight a problem or sign of stress that the animal is show-
ing so that the owner can relate,” Burkinshaw added. “Videos are also useful and catch
Pete Fischer, senior consultant with Torrance, Calif.-based Dogtra, which offers
e-collars and training products, said, “We use pictures of the product on the dog in
order to show a good representation of the look and size scale. We also use a diagram
to show a range of available products that buyers can easily see and pick what fits
Using education as part of the display can be beneficial and possibly even go a
long way in helping pet owners who are struggling with their dogs’ behavior.
“I believe retailers need to promote the training items in a more friendly and
educational way,” said Sarah Beck, founder of Doggie Don’t in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“So many dogs end up in shelters due to correctable behaviors. The training items
are often in a back corner without an explanation. Many pet parents are unsure and
nervous about what to purchase to deal with naughty and nuisance behaviors. Have
educational information available to pet parents to help them.”
As pet owners spend more time with their companion
animals, many are seeking solutions to problem behaviors.
Training and obedience classes, as well as corresponding
products, are becoming popular methods for dog owners
dealing with ill-behaved canines.
Give Your Dog
. . .What a treat. . . for you and your customers!
:Visit our website: www.naturesanimals.com
:or call: 1.800.DOG.BONE