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Model Behavior

Both dog and cat owners seek to improve the quality of life for everyone in the family when turning to training, behavior and anxiety products for pets.


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Pets are increasingly being elevated to full-fledged family member status with many being included in more family activities. As such, owners are seeking behavior, training and anxiety products for their pets, and often, they want instant results as well, according to industry participants.

“They may not come out and say it, but what dog and cat owners really want when they go shopping for such a product is a quick fix,” said Larry Cobb, CEO of The Company of Animals’ U.S. division in Davenport, Fla. The company makes a variety of training and behavior-modification products such as toys and a barking cessation item.

Michelle Mullins, training and behavior education manager for PetSafe, a brand of Radio Systems Corp. in Knoxville, Tenn., agreed that consumers want clear and fast-acting results.

“They want something that shows a tangible change in behavior—the one magic thing that will make their dog feel better,” she said, adding that multiple items are often needed to address issues.

With a genuine desire for solutions that improve the quality of life for everyone in the family, consumers “are looking for the highest-quality products with full transparency from manufacturers,” said Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for Littleton, Colo.-based Pet Releaf, which produces CBD hemp oil products that, among other things, may be used for calming.

“In our category specifically, pet owners are looking for a multitude of things: hemp country of origin, extraction methods, mixing agent, USDA organic certifications, and third-party laboratory testing to show potency, efficacy and that no residual solvents are present,” she added. “As far as specific health needs, pain management and anxiety issues are the top two categories for pet owners to seek out CBD.”

Brady McClintick, vice president of operations at Sandpoint, Idaho-based EzyDog—which plans to debut a clicker training product next year—said he sees “demand for humane, comfortable and easy-to-use products,” adding that “multifunction is a big deal for a lot of people.”

Keep Calm, and Sell On

Manufacturers have launched myriad behavior, training and anxiety products for dogs and cats this year.

Owners are more aware of anxiety in their dogs and cats, and they want more calming product options.  Manufacturers are heeding the call.

Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo., introduced Large Breed Edibites this year. Each treat contains 3 milligrams of CBD, and the product is recommended for the “generally healthy dog and can help with things such as less severe anxiety and arthritis,” said Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales.

Pet Releaf also launched its certified USDA organic capsules this year. Each vegan organic capsule contains 15 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD hemp oil and is recommended for medium- to large-breed dogs, the company stated. The newest product, which was launched at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in July, is a 10 pack of capsules.

“It’s a great trial size for customers at a lower price point for our maximum strength capsules,” Joyce added.

Two new product lines from ThunderWorks are designed to offer calming effects to dogs and cats. ThunderEase is a line for cats and dogs that mimics their calming pheromones and comes in diffusers, sprays and collars. The ThunderEssence line of essential oils provides 100 percent natural oils of lavender, chamomile and Egyptian geranium, said Phil Blizzard, CEO of the Durham, N.C.-based company. The oils come in drops and sprays.

Specifically for training and behavior, Woofhoof introduced the Pocket Pouch, a slim, washable pouch that comes in three colors.

“I am [also] designing a full-service treat pouch this year that will incorporate all of the bells and whistles while maintaining a slim, simplistic design,” said Diane Rosell, owner of the Columbia, Conn.-based company.

In January, EzyDog debuted its Luca Leash, which can be used for behavior improvement and training. It’s available in both a Standard Version and a Lite Version for smaller dogs.

“Designed with durable climbing rope, the leash can go from a standalone leash/collar, to a Safe Checking collar and all the way to a head-leading leash/collar in seconds,” said Brady McClintick, vice president of operations at the Sandpoint, Idaho-based company. “In the next year—near spring 2018—you will see a new and very innovative clicker training product from us.”

At SuperZoo, New York-based A Pet with Paws launched The Bentley. Available in Pecan and Cobalt Blue colors, the stylish and feminine training pouch features an eco-friendly design and functionality, said Ann Greenberg, founder.

“I wanted to create a training bag that would stand out in a fashionable way, while keeping items organized and within easy access for the handler,” she said.

Training through positive reinforcement is increasingly popular with pet owners, insiders said. In response, PetSafe introduced the Treat&Train Remote Reward Dog Trainer, designed to train through positive reinforcement.

“The extendable target can be used with or without the base, and the hand-held remote operates from up to 100 feet away,” said Michelle Mullins, training and behavior education manager for Knoxville, Tenn.-based PetSafe, a brand of Radio Systems Corp.

Showcase Solutions

When arranging behavior, training and calming products in stores, industry participants highly recommend keeping some at the front counter to catch customer attention and make it easy to point out solutions.

“I have some newer ones right up front near checkout to catch their attention,” said Michele Hanson-Pahan, owner of Riley’s Natural Pet Supply in Littleton, Colo. “I also have an entire supplement rack divided into categories, such as calming/anxiety, and we always assist at our supplement rack.”

Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf, which makes CBD hemp oil products for pets, recommended merchandising these items in the supplements section or at the front counter, as well.

“There are usually some questions from customers before they purchase them, so having [the products] right there is the perfect way for them to get their questions answered,” she said, adding that the Littleton, Colo.-based company’s most successful retail partners display these products “in a high-traffic area or right near the register since many customers do not typically go into the supplements area.”

Manufacturers also recommended creating a calming section or anxiety-free zone to carry applicable solutions.

“To make the most of the variety of great calming solutions, a pet store needs to create a compelling ‘Calming Section’ that includes brief educational materials explaining how each of the products may be used independently or in combination,” said Phil Blizzard, CEO of ThunderWorks Co. in Durham, N.C.

Michelle Mullins, training and behavior education manager for PetSafe, a brand of Radio Systems Corp. in Knoxville, Tenn., suggested a section that focuses on problem solving.

“Display them together so customers can see an entire solution [assortment],” she said. “It’s about the solution aspect.

“When clients are shopping, they’re either just browsing or they’re looking for something very specific, such as a loose-leash walking solution or training solution,” Mullins added. “Anxiety products need the same retail support as others, like [how] all litter solutions are together. When displayed together and outlined for them, [customers] better know and find what works well together.”

How to Ease Anxiety

Independent pet retailers can increase sales in this category with strategic promotion, industry participants said.

Diane Rosell, owner of Woofhoof in Columbia, Conn., recommended having staff “wear the treat pouches as walking advertisements—especially if you offer training as part of your services—and/or having staff out in the aisles promoting the benefits of the treat pouches.”

Around commonly stressful times of year, such as during July Fourth fireworks displays and thunderstorm season, Alan Kraus, owner of The Barking Zoo in New York, separates out applicable products and addresses, on social media how to keep pets safe and calm.

Several sources cited education and communication as keys to boosting sales.

“Read, educate yourself and get professional training help as you need,” said Mariah Harmony, owner of The Tahyo Dog Boutique in New Orleans. “More than anything we’re here to talk to people and help them with training and behavior.

Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo., agreed.

“Education, education, education and, most importantly, asking appropriate questions,” she said. “The store staff needs to be able to speak intelligently about the products, and then use [the manufacturer] as the backup for more difficult questions.

“Retailers need to find out why the pet owner is seeking an alternative method and what’s going on with their pet. They can then give sound advice because they have taken part in the extensive education [available].”

Because independents usually already have a relationship with customers, it is easier for them to find out what owners need to enhance their relationships with their animals, and then lead them to the solutions they carry in their stores, said Michelle Mullins, training and behavior education manager for PetSafe, a brand of Radio Systems Corp. in Knoxville, Tenn.

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