WORDS BY Caroline Davis
Part of the task in choosing which toys to stock is deciding on those that are people, as well as, pet pleasers. If something appeals to owners, then they are more likely to pick it up, pop it in their shopping basket in store or online, and take it home for their pet to play with. The more fun, innovative and colourful, the better, since these items stand out on shelves and are more likely to catch the eye of potential purchasers.
Quality and value are high priorities for many pet owners, since no one wants to part with their hard-earned cash for something that’s poorly made and only lasts two seconds, or may be unsafe for their beloved pet. Toy appearance is important too – not to the dogs of course, but to their owners who hold the purse strings, and like to give their pets a plaything that looks good. It works the same with pet food! People want to feel like they are providing the best for their beloved pets, so carrying lines that appeal will keep your tills ringing, and encourage repeat custom.
Size matters, so it’s crucial you stock toys suitable for all ages, sizes and temperaments. Dogs with strong jaws and big teeth, like the bull breeds, and inveterate chewers often require tough, ‘indestructible’ rubber and composite playthings, while those with small jaws and tiny teeth, such as Chihuahuas, and flat-faced breeds, such as Shih Tzus, appreciate softer toys for easy gripping and gentler, usually less destructive play than their larger counterparts.
The safety aspect is important too. For instance, some – especially first-time – pet owners are unaware that it’s vital to give their dogs well-made and appropriately sized toys. Small balls can get stuck in bigger dogs’ throats and choke them, while poorly made toys may come apart after one good tug, with pets potentially swallowing the bits, necessitating a trip to the vet. Sticks are not good for dogs either, according to the British Veterinary Association, since horrific stick-related injuries are treated weekly in vets country-wide, so persuade owners to invest in purpose-made throw toys, such as Safestix, instead. Not only are they safer, they are also considerably cheaper than a veterinary bill.
It’s a good idea, therefore, for retailers to clue up on dog toy safety and breed/type suitability then they can advise customers on the most appropriate products for their pets. No one wants injured animals and upset, irate customers – it’s bad for business. And customers really do appreciate helpful and knowledgeable advice from retailers, which helps instil buyer confidence and return footfall.
NOW STOCK THESE:
Designed for medium and large dogs who like to chase and chew, Tough Tuggers are made from durable thermoplastic rubber (TPR) and come in a range of innovative and eye-catching, designs including Loop Rhino and Ball Tug. Strong, braided rope allows dogs to sink their teeth in, grab hold and gain immense chewing satisfaction, yet retains its shape. Ideal toys for use in focusing destructive chewers on a thing they can chew, and not the furniture!
More info: www.petbrands.com
Bouncing Flower Balls
New to Ancol’s range this year, these eye-catching toys combine a colourful plush finish with a knobbly ball inside which, when thrown, bounces unpredictably to stimulate body and mind. Available in 7 and 9cm sizes for small and large dogs that like to chase, the smaller balls are supplied in cartons of 12 complete with a compact display box free of charge.
More info: www.ancol.co.uk
Denta Fun Toys
Designed for throw and chase and chewing, the natural 11cm rubber Denta Fun Ring with integral rubber bone provides endless fun for pet and owner, while perfect for playing retrieve and fetch is the vivid orange, green, yellow and red20cm Denta Fun Rope Ring with natural rubber balls. Both are simple yet very effective toys – and, being eye-catchingly coloured, are reliable sellers.
More info: www.trixie.de