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Sales Stand Strong for Playful Pups

Pet owners that understand the importance of play are helping boost sales of dog toys.



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While once a tennis ball and an old sock were sufficient playthings for pets, dog owners have higher expectations these days. With the consistent trend of humanizing pets, current owners want their “fur babies” and adventure companions not just entertained, but mentally challenged and bonded with their human family members.

“Pet owners are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of mental stimulation and bonding opportunities that dog toys provide,” said Grant Jape, assistant marketing manager for ZippyPaws, a Chino, Calif.-based manufacturer.

As a result, sales of dog toys are up. Jape reported consistently increasing sales of dog toys with “no signs of slowing down.”

Key trends in best-selling toys are variety and multiple benefits, industry insiders said. Companies keep innovating to meet changing consumer demands, so now dog owners can find toys without stuffing, those that incorporate water bottles, some for owner interaction and others that are electronic.

To keep customers engaged and returning, Paula Jaffe, co-owner of Cool Dog Gear, which has locations in Pennsylvania, said she sticks with toys “not normally found in the big-box stores.”

“Customers are looking for new and different,” she said, “not the same old items they can find everywhere else.”

Products that are made in the USA offer another huge selling point, retailers said. So much so that The Quirky Pet, a pet shop in Montpelier, Vt., only sells USA-made products. According to the company’s website, “The Quirky Pet is proud to actively support over 125 small businesses across the U.S. who are quietly rebuilding an American pet supply industry that has been overwhelmed by a tsunami of low-cost imports over the last few decades.”

Themed products are trending right now as well, Jape said, because they appeal to both dog and human alike. And “there is a high demand for products that can provide dogs with more than just one benefit,” he added.

Dog toy manufacturers are taking pets of all kinds into consideration with their designs. And savvy retailers strive to make sure they carry toys for every type of dog to meet energy levels as well as varying personalities.

“The most innovative products in this category are ones that help pets and owners bond together in multiple facets of their daily lives,” Jape said. “Whether you’re playing outside or snuggling indoors, it is important to have a wide range of dog toys available to meet every demand.”

Lasting dog toys remain a popular request from owners, making quality and durability important considerations, companies said. In its assortment, Cool Dog Gear includes well-made toys that can endure the toughest chewers.

“Customers are willing to pay a little more for good quality,” Jaffe said. “We also offer a wide range of styles and sizes to accommodate all size dogs.”

Jape also emphasized the important of variety at retail.

“Dog toys now feature a wider range of materials, different sounds or are even designed with a specific pet personality in mind,” Jape said.

Looking ahead, he predicted continued growth in the dog toy category as pet owners increasingly include their pets in their everyday lives.

“It is expected that we will see plenty of products that cater to different lifestyles and different pet behaviors,” Jape added.

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