Plans for the Holidays
Retailers can help dog owners prepare for a busy season of travel and visitors with a comprehensive assortment of crates, carries and gates.
Dog containment products serve an important function in homes, yards and vehicles, and products in this category are particularly useful when the holiday season rolls around. Pet specialty retailers report that sales of carriers, crates, gates and other containment products have the tendency to increase as dog owners prep for the holidays.
“We definitely see growing interest in this category, especially during the holidays,” said Brandon Roberts, assistant store manager at Panhandle Pet Supply in Tallahassee, Fla. “That time of year creates more need.”
More people are traveling with their companion animals by their side—especially during the holidays, said Nancy Shadlow, vice president of marketing for Gen7Pets in Elverson, Pa.
“Most would agree the holidays can be a hectic time,” she said. “With this said, whether you’re hosting a party, or you are traveling, you must stay mindful of potential pet hazards that could occur.”
Ensuring that dogs are safe in the home can be especially important during the holiday season.
“Richell’s indoor dog gates are a smart way to create pet boundaries inside our home wherever we need them—especially during the holiday season,” said Noriko H. Scott, marketing assistant manager for Richell USA in Grand Prairie, Texas. “Use a gate to separate a dog from plants like holly, mistletoe and poinsettia, which are poisonous to dogs. Tree ornaments and tinsel have sharp edges that can damage pets’ mouths and digestive systems. Plus, keep in mind, not all hazards are ingested. Friends and family ringing doorbells and giving hugs is the perfect opportunity for a door-dashing dog to slip out.”
Cristen Underwood, director of research and product development, canine toys and accessories, at Worldwise in Novato, Calif., said that containment products, when appropriately sized for the pet, can help keep dogs safe, comfortable and secure.
“Dog owners should know that for the safety of the pet and those around the pet, they must have a properly fitting carrier for daily use or for airline or car travel,” Underwood added.
Educate Through Displays
Since so many people travel during the holidays, it might be beneficial for pet specialty retailers to create a containment display around a travel theme, said Cristen Underwood, director of research and product development, canine toys and accessories, at Worldwise in Novato, Calif.
“Endcaps built around key holidays that have all of the essentials needed for a trip by plane or car with an easy-to-follow checklist will grab attention,” Underwood said.
With more pet owners considering their pets as family members, demand for pet health and safety products has increased, said Nancy Shadlow, vice president of marketing for Gen7Pets in Elverson, Pa.
“There’s not enough awareness on the dangers of traveling with a pet unrestrained in a car—but I feel once this topic is exposed, pet parents would make a change for their beloved pet,” Shadlow said, adding that retailers can share important information regarding pet travel safety along with some pet holiday travel facts in order to produce an educational display.
At Panhandle Pet Supply in Tallahassee, Fla., assistant store manager Brandon Roberts said that keeping crates close to the front door has proven valuable, as they are impossible to miss and often encourage conversation.
“Even if it’s something that the customer wasn’t thinking about, it’s one of the first things that they will see,” Roberts said. “That often leads to questions and gives an opportunity for us to help answer them.”
Tell a Story
The pet containment category—particularly during the holiday season—creates a lot of opportunity to draw customers in with special marketing efforts and education campaigns about the importance of pet travel safety.
Cristen Underwood, director of research and product development, canine toys and accessories, at Worldwise in Novato, Calif., suggested running in-store or social media contests that promote holiday preparation. Pet specialty retailers can offer tips, product giveaways and more, she said.
“Education protects pets and pet parents,” Underwood said. “[For example,] an unsecured pet can be very dangerous for all occupants of a car, so a properly sized carrier helps eliminate risks and keeps pets and people safe.”
Nancy Shadlow, vice president of marketing for Gen7Pets in Elverson, Pa., said that it’s also important to get pet owners in on the conversation and have them share their real-life stories.
“Gathering stories from pet parents who have had a life-threatening or tragic experience happen due to not properly restraining their pet during travel would be a great way to get the word out on this topic,” she said. “Social media is most definitely a wonderful way to do this. Starting up a Facebook survey, which could ask pet owners basic questions about how they travel with their pets, would be a beneficial way to draw more attention to this topic.”
4 Ways Pet Owners Can Plan for the Holidays
Industry insiders offered helpful tips that pet specialty retailers can pass along to consumers looking to make holiday travel plans or those expecting guests during the season.
1. Prepare for Airline Travel
“Be sure to book plane tickets for pets early, as there are a limited number of in-cabin pets allowed in the airline cabin,” said Cristen Underwood, director of research and product development, canine toys and accessories, at Worldwise in Novato, Calif.
2. Choose Comfort
“Regardless if you’re traveling by car, airplane, ship or train, choosing a safe and comfortable crate or carrier is essential for keeping your pet secure,” said Nancy Shadlow, vice president of marketing for Gen7Pets in Elverson, Pa. “Traveling can be stressful for our pets, but providing them with a cozy place to relax during the excursion will help to keep them calm, less stressed and by your side at all times.”
3. Offer a Safe Feeling
“At home, dogs like to relax in a favorite spot, preferably with a roof over their heads,” said Noriko H. Scott, marketing assistant manager for Richell USA in Grand Prairie, Texas. “This is why we may find a dog under a table or desk, where they can take power naps but still keep an eye on us. We do not want to trap a dog in one place but want to provide them with a space that feels natural to their habits.”
4. Know Your Dog
“Be aware of the surroundings and of your pet’s temperament—especially if you have visiting friends or relatives, or special events and parties,” Underwood said. “Be prepared to contain your pet in a safe place where they can rest comfortably and securely. The [winter] holiday season is one of the times of year where more pets get lost—second only to the Fourth of July.”