Commited to bringing our readers the most innovative and unique products for pets and their owners, Unleash talks with Lisa Woody, owner of DogToysandTreats.com, an online dog accessory, supplies and treats store.
What inspired you to find a niche for such unique pet products?
It seemed that I saw the same old rubber balls, rope tugs and oval dog beds when I shopped for my dogs. Now and then, I would come across something really great, something that was a little different or better than what everyone else was carrying.
So, I created an online store to offer all the cool stuff I've found. Some of our first products were organic shampoos, scented tennis balls, and a tug toy that said, "The Ex."
Celebrating Christmas with your pet has become very popular. How many dog owners give their canine companions Christmas gifts.
According to a recent national poll, two-thirds of dog owners give Christmas presents to their dogs. The New York Daily News estimated that dog owners spent over a billion dollars on holiday gifts for their dogs last Christmas. As I talk to customers on the phone, I'm finding out that not only do they shop for their own dogs, but for friends' and family members' dogs, as well. I mean, how can you send a box of Christmas goodies to your sister's family and not tuck in something for the dog? A few of our customers also buy inexpensive items such as cookies and hand them out at the dog park or around the neighborhood to their dogs' friends. Of course, they sign their dog's name to the gift card! [Laughs]
What are the most popular items for Christmas gifts?
The newest trend I'm seeing is humorous toys. We have a number of funny dog toys and they seem to fly out the door during the holidays. There are funny Christmas toys, too, and even funny treats (cats and mailmen). Humor is universal, and giving a dog a toy that makes everyone smile is always fun.
Some people get a new bed each year at Christmas because it's a comfort item and Christmas is a good time to replace the bed. Other people people put a lot of thought into what they purchase for their dogs. They consult with me about the dog's likes and dislikes. I ask them whether the dog spends a lot of time outdoors, whether the dog has long hair, how old the dog is, whether there are other dogs in the house. We're usually about to come up with something perfect. There's one guy in Colorado who sends a Christmas box every year to a dog belonging to some friends. The dog, "Murph" doesn't like men as a rule, but he likes this guy. So the customer sends this dog about $100 worth of toys and treates every year. It's really sweet.
Other popular items are dog treats and cookies that come in holiday flavors, such as Christmas goose, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread. Sweaters and jackets are popular with the small dog crowd. Big dog owners like to freshen up their dogs' toy collection with something Christmas-y or something durable. They'll use the occasion to try something new.
Aside from Christmas, do you offer other holiday themed products for dogs?
We apply the same philosophy - looking for something upbeat, off-beat and totally cool - to our other Holiday collections: Valentine's Day, Easter and Halloween. We also carry Hanukkah items for "chewish" dogs.
Are there any animal welfare organizations, agencies or charities that DogToysandTreats.com supports?
We give to a no-kill shelter and also contributed to relief efforts of Louisiana shelters following Hurricane Katrina.