TELL A STORY
Retailers with familiarity of the features of the toys they carry
are instrumental in guiding customers to the right toy for
their dog, according to manufacturers.
“Asking questions to get to know the needs and preferences of the customer and their dog also lends to a personal
experience that goes beyond reviews or product descriptions,” said Emily Benson, marketing director for Starmark
Pet Products in Hutto, Texas.
Toni Lynn Mark, training and behavior education
specialist for PetSafe, a brand of Radio Systems Corp. in
Knoxville, Tenn., said the company takes great pride in the
materials and resources it provides to its customers to help
“From instruction manuals to online videos, we create
high-quality informative educational pieces that make sure
the customer understands how to play with the toy and the
benefits of the toy,” she said.
Pet Food Express, a multistore chain in California, has
found success selling these items when its sales associates
have used the toys with their own pets, or have seen the toys
used by their co-workers, friends or family members.
“At the very least, we share stories verbally with one
another on how we used the toys and how they worked
with our animals,” said Sue Tasa, director of education at
Pet Food Express.
The staff at Animal Connection in Charlottesville, Va.,
occasionally takes a batch of new toys and treats to the local
dog park and hosts a “toy-testing afternoon.”
“Our clients will go out of their way to attend these
events,” said Pattie Boden, manager of the store. “Also, if the
vendor supplies digital video to show how the toy is used,
that is a great thing to post on our social media.”
TOYS THAT TRAIN
Numerous innovations have been introduced to
the market as manufacturers aim to respond to
the increased demand.
Petmate has partnered with celebrity dog
trainer Brandon McMillan, star of the Emmy
Award-winning CBS show “Lucky Dog,” to create
effective training tools for everyday pet owners.
“The Brandon McMillan line of training
solutions provides owners with the tools to build
trust, establish focus, and control and master
training techniques with their pet,” said Patricia
McCune, senior product manager for Arlington,
Texas-based Petmate. “Two new products
available at retail are the Shake and Break and
The Shake and Break is designed to stop
unwanted dog behaviors such as jumping on
furniture or people, barking, etc. The noise made
by shaking the bottle breaks the dog’s focus and
directs its attention to the pet owner to correct
the behavior. The Lure Stick is a treat reward
tool that helps stop smaller dogs from pulling
on a leash and encourages them to heel. The
stick reaches the noses of short dogs without
the owner having to crouch and keeps distance
between the owner’s hands and dog’s snout,
Starmark Pet Products in Hutto, Texas, introduced its Treat Dispensing Puzzle Ball, which
dispenses a variety of treats or kibble and holds
a cup of food to turn mealtime into playtime,
with some challenge for the dog.
EW PRODUCTS ERCHANDISING
DISPLAYS CAN MAKE
Toys and training products
displayed fully assembled and in
accessible areas help consumers
better understand their function
Patricia McCune, senior product
manager for Petmate in Arlington,
Texas, noted that packaging also
helps showcase product function,
features and simple instructions to
further explain how to use each tool.
“In addition, instructional videos
for products are always helpful, so
consumers get a first look on how
to properly use each training tool,”
At Pet Food Express, a multistore
chain in California, samples of toys
are displayed outside of packaging
for customers to explore and play
with. At Wag N’ Wash Natural Food
& Bakery in Eagan, Minn., owner Dan
Hutchison’s favorite merchandising
trick is keeping two different puzzle
toys full of treats on the floor near
the point-of-sale system so they are
discovered by pets on their way in
and out of the store.
“It’s a great way for owners to
see the interest their companions
have in these types of toys,” he said.
“Over the years, people have been migrating steadily toward
pet training and behavior products that are kinder, gentler and
less stressful. The public’s increasing concern for the health and
happiness of their pets is because most dogs and cats are now
considered part of the family unit.”—LARRY COBB, CEO of The
Company of Animals’ U.S. division in Davenport, Fla.
“As the trend continues nationally and among mil-
lennials to adopt, not shop, there is an emphasis on
training so that pets don’t end up back in the shelter.
Accessories and products to help people train their
pet will continue to expand as more people care
about having a well-adjusted, trained dog.”—ANN
GREENBERG, founder of A Pet with Paws in New York
What are the most exciting changes you have seen in this category?
“The truly exciting thing about [the cannabidiol] category
is that it has quickly become widely accepted throughout the
human world, and even more so in the pet world.”—CHELSEA
JOYCE, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo.
“There’s been a big shift in the public’s awareness of and
understanding about phytocannabinoids. CBD wasn’t really
on the public radar before 2007, so we’ve seen tremendous
increase in public awareness and people seeing results
with their animals and themselves.”—JULIANNA CARELLA,
CEO and founder of Treatibles in Oakland, Calif.
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• Great for dogs, cats, and multicat households
• Calms by mimicking natural pheromones.
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Contact us at: 866.892.2078 or sales@ThunderShirt.com
FOR CATS FOR DOGS