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Dog Marketplace: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie



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Customers’ pets can curl up in comfort on beds available in a snooze-worthy variety of sizes, styles and fabrics.

By Stacy N. Hackett

Many of the dog beds sold at Dogadillo in Austin, Texas, go through a testing and approval cycle with Bowser, owner Lisa Conrad’s golden retriever. Bowser’s enthusiasm for testing the new products in the store led Conrad to offer the option to her customers as well.

“We allow the customers to bring their dogs to the store to try out the beds,” she said. “That way they can see what size and shape the dogs like the best. This always helps them make the final decision.”

Such a policy allows owners to make informed decisions when faced with a wide variety of dog beds. As retailers and manufacturers reported, some dogs like to curl up when they sleep, while others prefer to stretch out during nap time. Older dogs might feel more comfortable on a certain type of bed, while still others enjoy resting their heads on a bolster or pillow.

To accommodate these varying resting and sleeping inclinations, Worldwise of San Rafael, Calif., offers beds in four categories: Functional, Sprawl, Cuddle and Rejuvenate. The Functional line features cushion-style beds ideal for use with crates or kennels, while the Sprawl beds are large enough for dogs to stretch out, said Wonjung Song, the company’s director of innovation and pet bedding.

 Dog Bed
West Paw Design.

“Cuddle [features] beds with substantial side walls for head and neck support,” Song said. “Rejuvenate [includes] beds with convoluted foam, memory foam or gel memory foam. They are ideal for aging and arthritic dogs, as the beds support joints and relieve pressure points.”

West Paw Design of Bozeman, Mont., also offers beds in a range of shapes and styles to address dogs’ sleeping and resting preferences. To help customers choose the appropriate bed for their pets, West Paw Design’s website and marketing materials categorize dogs by sleeping style: Best Nesters, Tired Old Bones, Nappers on the Go and Planet-Friendly Pups (see “Earth-Friendly Bedding” box on page 47).

“We help educate our fan base about which bed might be best for their pup,” said Hilary Parker, public relations representative for the company.

For example, dogs in the Best Nesters category might prefer West Paw Design’s Bumper Bed or Heyday Bed, while those that belong in the Tired Old Bones category most likely need the support provided by the Tuckered Out Bed.

Size and breed of dog can also influence bed purchases. At Villaggio Family Pets in Temecula, Calif., sales staff help customers match beds to the type of dog, said Robbie Torres, sales associate. Questions include height and weight of the dog, as well as breed and hair length. Some shorter-haired dogs might want to snuggle, Torres added.

To further help dog owners select the ideal bed, West Paw Design provides retailers with swatches of the fabrics and patterns that are available for its range of products.

“Several retailers use the swatches … to showcase the colors and patterns they don’t carry, encouraging customers to place orders if they’d like,” Parker said.

Custom Features
Such customization allows dog owners to match their pets’ beds to their home décor, making the beds even more appealing to customers.

“Customers like the idea of being able to pick a bed that is going to match their house,” Conrad of Dogadillo said. “We order from companies that let the customer customize their beds. They can even pick two different fabrics for top and bottom.”

Staff at Villaggio Family Pets can provide a similar service.

“We can order other sizes and colors online,” Torres said. “Customers can come in with an idea of what they’d like, and we can look online together if we don’t already have it in the store.”

 The signature Bagel Bed offered by Bessie and Barnie also allows dog owners to choose their favorite colors. The tops and bottoms of the beds are interchangeable, permitting multiple combinations.

Earth-Friendly Bedding

Many pet owners strive to use environmentally friendly products in their homes, and manufacturers recognize this preference.

“Our beds come in an earth-friendly option,” said Hilary Parker, public relations representative for West Paw Design in Bozeman, Mont. “We use IntelliLoft in our beds … both as a stuffing and as a fiber. IntelliLoft is … made completely from recycled plastic bottles. We use 100 percent IntelliLoft to stuff our pillow beds.”

Worldwise of San Rafael, Calif., uses a similar product—EcoRest fiber—in its Sprawl beds.

“It is a high-performance and recycled fiber fill,” said Wonjung Song, director of innovation and pet bedding. “Recycled post-consumer plastic is spun-processed into a fluffy, high-loft fill, providing unmatched cushioning, resilience and insulation.”—SNH 

“If the retail store has two of the same size beds in stock and the customer wants to make their own combination in the store, they can instantly gratify the customer’s taste,” said George Abbondante, president of the Hialeah, Fla.-based company. “It allows [the customer] to match any room décor. With our current fabric selection, you can create over 1,000 combinations.”

The patent-pending design of the Bagel Bed features a 360-degree zipper, which allows pet owners to take the bed completely apart to adjust the depth of the center segment, Abbondante said.

“Go from a bagel to a jelly doughnut, making it easier for older dogs to get in and out,” Abbondante said.

Being able to take apart the bed also lets customers wash it—a big selling point, according to manufacturers and retailers.

“People want beds that are easy to take care of,” said Jennifer Santos, manager of Country Inn Pet Resort in Davie, Fla. “They frequently ask if the beds we have in stock are machine washable.”

To make cleaning even easier, JLA Pets, a division of JLA, in Carlsbad, Calif., provides stain-release features on its beds.

“We offer 3M technology to help in removing even the most stubborn stains,” said Kirsten Reid, vice president of merchandising.

Customers look for added features while shopping for beds, such as anti-odor properties, she said.

“This is why we partnered with Sciessent and are introducing Agion Active technology into our assortment.”

Pooches’ Preferences
To make a bed appealing to both owner and pet, Austin, Texas-based Shags offers a style that gives the dog a bit of control over the shape and feel of its resting spot, said Ali Goodwin, marketing manager. Shags Wags pet bean bags are designed to encourage a dog’s natural instinct to circle when selecting a resting spot, she said.

“People love that their pets are able to circle and make their bed suit them,” Goodwin said. “Shags Wags enable your pet to position itself perfectly prior to sleeping. One hundred percent of the bed surface is usable.”

In the end, the dog’s ability to sleep on the chosen bed leads to a satisfied customer. As Santos said, “People are mainly concerned with the comfort of their pets.”  

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