Walking products with safety features and hiking gear that rivals the quality of items found in human sporting goods stores make this spring and summer the perfect time to encourage owners to get outside with their pets.
Whether they’re strolling on the sidewalk or navigating a forest trail, safety is top of mind for pet owners who bring their canine companions with them outdoors.
Consumers look for products that can help them control their dogs so they can be protected from other dogs, vehicles or getting into dangerous situations, said Gordie Spater, chief business officer for Kurgo in Salisbury, Mass.
According to a nationally representative study from Kurgo, the top three concerns for people when walking or running with their dog are “aggressive behavior by other dogs,” “keeping control of my dog” and “dog being struck by a vehicle,” Spater noted.
The benefits of play and exercise for pet owners and pets are big, said Damian Hall, senior marketing manager for the Hagen Group of Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass.
“Pet owners are seeking products that allow their pets to safely participate in their favorite activities such as biking, running or hiking and simple activities like playing catch, lounging by the pool and casual walks,” he said. “As manufacturers and marketers of these items, it is imperative that we create truly authentic products that meet the performance standards expected by these consumers.”
In hiking products, functionality and the dog’s comfort are key, Spater said.
Susan Strible, director of marketing for Ruffwear in Bend, Ore., agreed, noting that products should be made to last and free of superfluous features.
“We believe in products that are built from the dog’s perspective, and the product performance should be measured by the ability to enhance and enable our outdoor adventures with our dogs,” Strible said.
Products need to be functional and easy to use, but style is playing a bigger role in the products pet owners select to take with them on weekend adventures such as hiking, camping and beach going, said Natalie Hennessy, public relations and integrated marketing manager for P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco.
“Style is playing a bigger part more than ever with the unleashing of selfies and [pet owners] capturing fun journeys with their furry friends to share on social media,” she said.
Consumers are selecting outdoor products for their pets that reflect many of the style trends in outdoor and athleisure products for humans with tech fabrics and high-quality hardware, Spater said.
What’s New in Walking
For the spring and summer season, Ruffwear is launching its Front Range Leash and Commuter Pack. The Front Range Leash is a strong, light leash featuring Ruffwear’s all-metal, secure, swiveling Crux Clip and traffic handle for quick restraint. The Commuter Pack is a rucksack-inspired dog pack that’s at home in urban environments as well as on the trail. It features a variety of pockets and low-light visibility with reflective trim, Strible said.
In March, Kurgo expanded its leash selection to include the Humble Leash, a simple, high-quality rope leash, and the Ascender Leash, a nautical rope leash with a slipknot to adjust the length and have more control, Spater said. The company also expanded its waterproof Muck Collar line with new colors and designs.
The Hagen Group debuted line extensions for its Zeus brand at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., this March, including the X-treme Bomber toys as well as Ranger retractable leads, Hall said. The products complement the company’s extensive line of active lifestyle products.
The Company of Animals, which has U.S. headquarters in Davenport, Fla., updated its Baskerville Ultra Muzzle by adding a tan color. The tan muzzle was developed to better match a variety of dog coats, making it appear less daunting on light-colored dogs, according to the company.
With safety in mind, Coastal Pet Products, based in Alliance, Ohio, introduced its Reflective Safety Vest earlier this year. It maximizes visibility at night and during the day with reflective material and fluorescent color, the manufacturer reported.
DOOG (Dog Owners Outdoor Gear), which has U.S. headquarters in Carrollton, Texas, launched a range of soft, neoprene step-in harnesses to complement its popular neoprene range of collars and leads, the company stated. They’re designed so they won’t get too bulky, uncomfortable or hot when dogs are running or participating in other outdoor activities.
What’s New in Hiking and Adventure
This fall, Kurgo is releasing a system for skijoring, canicross (cross-country running with dogs) and other types of joring sports. The company also is expanding its backpack line with two new colors.
Ruffwear is releasing new cooling products for dogs based on the company’s best-selling Swamp Cooler vest, Strible said.
Jet Stream is a lightweight cooling vest with shade-providing spandex on top and Swamp Cooler technology on the chest and belly to keep dogs cool through evaporation and heat reflection. Owners soak the vest in water, wring it out and fit it on their dog.
Core Cooler offers three-layer Swamp Cooler technology in an add-on chest and belly panel. It integrates with Ruffwear’s Web Master and Web Master Pro Harnesses as well as its Approach, Palisades and Singletrak Packs. Like the Jet Stream, it keeps dogs on the go cool through evaporation and heat reflection. Pet owners soak it, wring it out and attach it to the harness or pack via hook and loop, Strible said.