The frozen yogurt treat for dogs is a natural—nutritionally and financially.
By Sherri L. Collins
Yogurt for dogs, the product’s concept is so straightforward and obvious, it invokes a V8-type reaction: “I should have had thought of it myself.” We didn’t; however, Jody Rodgers, creator of Yöghund, a frozen yogurt treat for dogs, did.
Since 1989, Rodgers has run a complete pet services company, featuring grooming, boarding, training and daycare, as well as pet supplies. Renamed The Barking Dog Ltd. in 1998, the Derry, N.H-based outfit added a second location the following year in Hooksett and a third in 2005 in Exeter.
Over the years, Rodgers’ daily interactions with dog owners led her to realize something was missing from many pet-treat offerings. Pet lovers were forever searching for treats that were healthful and delicious. Aware that many dogs suffer from allergies or food intolerances, Rodger knew a new treat needed to be as basic and natural as possible, yogurt fit the bill, as it is not only nutritional, but digestive friendly.
“It really was, well I won’t say a no-brainer, but it made total sense. A fair number of vets recommend yogurt for dogs—it does the same good things for dogs as it does for people,” says Judy Rodgers.
Yöghund is real yogurt. It is produced by fermentation of organic, low-fat milk containing live bacterial cultures (or probiotics), which are known to aid digestive and immune systems, as well as help nutrient absorption.
Rodgers and company began experimenting with frozen yogurt for their four-legged clients in 2006.
At a Glance
Parent Company: The Barking Dog Ltd.
Owner: Jody Rodgers
Location: Exeter, New Hampshire
No. of Employees: 3 fulltime, 2 shared with The Barking Dog
No. of Years in Business: 2006 (Yöghund))
“We developed it for The Barking Dogs’ clients, who were also our ‘testing board’–and they loved it. By late 2006, early 2007, we started getting serious. At the 2007 spring HH Backer show we received tremendous interest in the product,” she explains. “By late 2007, we were dabbling with the grocery/mass market distribution. By early 2008 we continued to expand our pet retailer distribution, as well as increased our grocery access.”
To date, more than 2,500 locations carry Yöghund, including independent pet retailers, natural grocery stores and a few mainstream ones.
“We are, however, staying very committed to our pet retailers; we use the same price points for all channels. In fact, we picked up three new distributors at this month’s Global Pet Expo in Orlando,” Rodgers says.
That commitment is also reflected in the company’s freezer program. Retailers who purchase a freezer—offered in two sizes, small and large, the latter of which is capable of holding several cases of Yöghund —also get free product to put in it.
Currently, Yöghund comes in two certified-organic flavors, Peanut Butter & Banana, and Blueberry & Vanilla. When asked which flavor her dogs prefer, Rodgers said her standard poodle is a peanut butter fiend and thus loves the Peanut Butter and Banana variety, while her rescue Doberman eats whatever she gets to first.
Rodgers’ dogs and, of course, those visiting The Barking Dog, were instrumental in developing two new flavors, Peanut Butter Papaya and Apple Cheddar, which will appear in an all-new natural line due out in May. Both flavors are 100-percent natural with no added sugars or ingredients.
Yöghund Product Line
- Organic Banana & Peanut Butter
- Organic Blueberry & Vanilla Bean
- Natural Apple & Cheddar
- Natural Peanut Butter & Papaya
“In coming up with the new flavors, we knew we wanted peanut butter and something. We did taste tests with my dogs, as well as client dogs, mixing it with orange, with cranberry and with papaya. All three fruits have similar costs and health benefits, but the dogs really went crazy over the peanut butter and papaya,” she explains.
The reasons behind creating the natural line, which is not organic, are twofold. One is the lower cost to the consumer; the second is consumer awareness.
“I wish more people were into organic, but we’ve come to realize, especially in this economy, that organic isn’t a must-have for most,” Rodgers reflects. “What is becoming a must, however, is natural. More people are into natural than organic.”
Along with the desire for natural products, consumers are starting to search for proactively healthful products, ones that are beneficial instead of merely not harmful, which makes Yöghund a natural (pardon the pun) choice.
“Our main “difficulty” is getting the consumer to understand the benefits of pro- and prebiotics for their dogs,” she says. “We are gaining ground, but it is a slow process. That said, I’ll take every marketing advantage I can get: Once they understand the benefits, then we can emphasize the need for more frequent consumption.”
Yöghund is also environmentally friendly. The boxes are made from 100-percent recycled materials and are chlorine-free. The paper cups are actually safe for ingestion, just in case a dog is a bit overenthusiastic when consuming the treat.
According to Rodgers—and her many satisfied clients— Yöghund is more than a simple treat; it’s a healthful product that greatly benefits dogs without adding extra calories. (The Blueberry & Vanilla Bean is just 34 calories per serving; the Peanut Butter & Banana has 93.) Another cited benefit is that, unlike many treats that are consumed instantly, Yöghund is a long-lasting experience for dogs.
“What makes Yöghund unique is that it offers a bonding experience between owners and their dogs, Rodger’s explains. “ The dog enjoys it not just from a taste standpoint, but also from an interactive one as well—they like licking it and tearing into the cup. Plus, owners get a kick out of watching their dogs have so much fun.”
Nutritious, tasty and fun to eat, what more could a dog ask for. <HOME>
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