29 November 2018 Pet Product News International
What is Cool Dog Gear best known for?
Sue Hepner: We are known for being different, for our cool items, our education and
making a difference in the lives of dogs.
The biggest challenge facing pet retailers today?
Hepner: The online retailers. I don’t know how they sell cheaper than our purchase price.
What is really frustrating is seeing customers come in, look at a product, take a picture,
and then pull it up on the internet, on the spot, to compare pricing.
What challenges is the pet industry facing overall?
Hepner: Promoting pet health and keeping the dog as a family member as opposed
to just a pet.
Are you watching any interesting trends?
Hepner: Made in the USA is increasing in popularity, and keeping it local is pretty big
for us. Our customers like that.
What do you see for the future?
Hepner: Hopefully more stores. We are relocating the Montgomery Mall location to a larger
space, where we will be adding grooming services. However, we want to continue to be
different and unique and have no interest in doing what everyone else is doing.
IT’S A RETAIL LIFE “People think it’s really cool that they can bring their pet with them to the mall, and it also
provides unique exposures for the dogs,” she
says. “That’s something we negotiated in our
A TEAM WORKOUT
Aside from the socialization prospects posed
by a mall outing, the access enables dogs and
their owners to participate in a key component
to the Cool Dog Gear experience. “Work Out
Doggie Style,” or WODS, is a total-body fitness
program allowing dogs and their owners to
exercise and play together in a fun, supportive
“If an owner takes their pet to doggie day
care, it is engaging in play with other dogs,”
As a dragon boat crew member, Hepner
spends plenty of time in a gym. Coming home,
tired from a workout, she noticed her own dogs
craved playtime. She recognized the value of a
gymlike atmosphere geared toward both dog
and owner exercising as a team.
“So, I decided to create something,” she
says. “We offer a 45-minute program for dogs
and owners to work out together.”
The WODS canine agility course provides
a spirited challenge that is both mental and
physical. Obstacle navigation may be creative
at times, but pup participants are rewarded
with a sniff in a kiddy pool full of balls, where
treats are hidden.
“The average pet owner might be intimi-
dated by an agility course, so we offer stations
without the rules and intensity,” she says. “If a
dog doesn’t want to do it, it’s no big deal.”
“We have people who jog or walk, or we
will rotate between laps and maybe weaves
with their dog,” she says. “We might do ket-
tle ball, jump rope, wall sits or use resistance
While their owners are exercising, dogs are
content to watch and catch their breath.
The one-on-one, low-key format is scheduled by appointment, and requires no contract.
“We opted not to do membership packag-
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AUG U ST 20 - 2 2 2019
EDUCATION AUGUST 19-21