Dog Product Trends for 2010

Despite a worldwide recession, spending on pet products and services is predicted to rise nearly 5 percent this year.

"If anything, people are becoming more attached to their pets in times of uncertainty and stress," says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association (APPA). "We are rewarding our pets for their unconditional love and companionship in human terms rather than pet terms."

More than 750 pet product manufacturers will be selling the latest dog toys, care and health products, and more at the APPA's Global Pet Expo, March 25-27, in Orlando, Fla. The show is not open to the public, but pet product buyers from around the world attend.

  • Efforts to Humanize Our Pups
    "When we have someone we can come home to who loves us unconditionally, never complains or has a bad thing to say, we want to say thank you," explains Vetere. These days, we often say thanks with new toys, innovative pet care products and the latest gadgetry.

    Here are some of the canine products that might make your list in 2010:

  • Rubber balls that talk What if your dog could hear your voice while you're away simply by playing with a rubber ball? And what if that rubber ball could also give your furry bud treats? Talk to Me Pet Products has developed the new Talk to Me Rubber Treatball, which serves this dual purpose. The balls, priced from $13.99 to $17.99, are great for soothing separation anxiety, says Mike Sachtleben, the company's sales manager. "You can record a 12-second message and fill them with your dog's favorite treats," he explains. "When they play with it, it replays the message back to your dog and gives them treats."
  • Sunburn soother Since more dogs are considered members of the family, it's only natural that they should have their own skin care products. Vet's Best now makes Sun Relief Spray with a mix of aloe vera, titanium dioxide, willow herb extract, boswellia herb and other ingredients. The line of natural products, developed by Dr. Dawn Curie Thomas, a veterinarian, not only protects your pup from sunburn while you're out in the sun, but also helps to ease the discomfort and itching that comes with overexposure, according to the company.
  • Diapers for your pooch Dog owners who are suffering through housebreaking or live with an incontinent adult dog might like Pup'sters Disposable Diapers from Simple Solution, featuring an adjustable elastic tail hole, re-sealable closures and a comfortable fit around the leg. The diapers are available in a range of sizes and patterns, including pink gingham and polka dot.
  • Skeet shooting for pups Kurgo, a manufacturer of pet products for those with an active lifestyle, has a new toy called Winga, which can launch a disc 200 feet away for your pet to chase outside. The 3-inch-wide rubber discs float through the air and even float on water, if your pup is a swimmer. The starter pack, which includes one disc thrower and two discs, sells for $19.99.
  • Air purifier for rover Six years ago, Annette Uda's 3-year-old shih tzu, Tasha, was diagnosed with allergies. Annette and her husband, Mike, spent $1,500 a year on veterinary visits, medications, shampoos and more. Nothing worked until Mike, an indoor air quality control industry professional, used medical-grade ultraviolet light technology and allergen filters. The combination worked so well that they started a business, Petairpy, that makes portable and stationary HVAC systems. They start at $395.

Since we view our pets in a more human way, it's no longer enough to just give them a treat. "We are human and think like a human, so we look to thank our pets in a way that is meaningful to us in human terms," concludes Vetere. "That is reflected in the things we buy our pets."

Play Trivia, Feed Homeless Dogs

Mimi Ausland’s parents never have to nag her to feed the family pooch. Mimi, a 13-year-old seventh grader, takes care of her own dog -- and millions more.

Her Web site, FreeKibble.com combines trivia with charity, helping to feed shelter dogs across the country. Since Mimi began her work in April 2008, FreeKibble.com and a companion site for cats, FreeKibbleKat.com, have provided enough food for an astonishing 1.9 million meals!

How Free Kibble Works

Visit FreeKibble.com, and you’re invited to play Bow Wow Trivia. Mimi and her father research dog-related questions for the game and offer multiple choices that players can click on. Here’s a sample of recent questions:

  • “In their first few weeks, puppies sleep ____ of the day.” The correct answer is 90 percent.

  • “Which one of the following is the only dog breed whose evidence is accepted in a court of law?” The correct answer is bloodhound.

FreeKibble.com features a different question every day. Each day you play, your participation earns 10 pieces of kibble for a shelter dog. It doesn’t matter if you answer the question correctly or not. Kibble is currently donated to 70 shelters across the United States. The game itself attracts visitors worldwide, from 137 countries so far.

Mimi’s Inspiration
Mimi got the idea from another popular Web site, FreeRice.com, which raises money to feed hungry people through online multiple-choice games involving vocabulary, art and more.

“When we started, we were just planning on feeding our local shelter,” says Mimi, who also volunteers at her local animal shelter. “I’ve always loved animals since I was a little girl, and I wanted to do something more for them somehow.”

Free Kibble has now become a family project. The family found a Web designer to create the site, and now Mimi’s mother makes the whimsical, charming cartoons that appear on the site. Mimi devotes some time each day to important emails, then spends Friday afternoons catching up on her FreeKibble work.

How to Get Started
You might not be ready to feed millions of animals, but your smallest effort will be much appreciated by those who help animals. Here’s our experts’ advice on getting started:

  • Check with your local shelter. Visit the shelter Web site to research volunteer opportunities and to review a wish list of needs, suggests Carol Shiveley, humane education manager for the Oregon Humane Society in Portland. Many shelters offer formal volunteer programs with education or training components. In return, they may ask for a regular time commitment. The Oregon Humane Society relies heavily on young volunteers, who often walk the dogs. “Our youths are our best resource for open minds, willing help and dedication to the OHS animals,” says Shiveley.

  • Collect goods. If you can’t give your time on a regular basis, consider a one-time drive to raise needed materials, such as food, paper towels, blankets, toys, leashes and collars. “If you’re having a birthday party, ask for money or toys for animals at shelters,” suggests Mimi. “It is fun to get presents, but it does make you feel good to get things for the animals.”

  • Consider fostering a dog. Many shelters offer fostering programs that allow you to make a short-term commitment to taking care of a dog or another animal in your home. At the Seattle Humane Society, foster volunteers attend an orientation, then agree to foster for a period of one to eight weeks. The Society provides supplies and any needed medications. “It just amazes me how generous our volunteers are with their time,” says animal care supervisor Virginia Dalton. “Many foster animals so that we can free up space to accommodate the incoming animals.”

  • Stick With It.  Whatever you undertake, don’t get discouraged. The sense of need can be overwhelming in charity work. “One person can make a huge difference,” says Mimi. “I’m definitely going to keep this up. We’re just going to try to feed as many dogs and cats as possible and see where it goes.”

Must-read Books for Every Dog Owner

Some dogs have a tale that needs telling.

 

I should know. My great-grandfather was Eric Knight, and I grew up hearing stories about how he turned his beloved border collie, Toots, into a loyal super-dog in the 1930s classic Lassie Come Home.

 

Other dogs and their antics are so outlandish that fact makes for better storytelling than fiction. John Grogan's Marley and Me is the latest example of a canine-inspired memoir that tells as much about dogs as the people who come to love them.

 

From children’s literature to obedience-training books, or doggie “self-help,” dog book genres abound. Below, experts share their own favorite dog-themed must-read tomes:

 

Classic Tail Tales

Many of the dog books today cannot compare with the joy and heartbreak you likely experience reading the following:

 

  • Old Yeller Author Fred Gipson’s novel features the fictional Coates family and the big yellow dog that finds them after they settle in Texas Hill Country.

 

  • Where the Red Fern Grows This Wilson Rawls story is about Billy, a farm boy who buys two Redbone Coonhounds and trains them as hunting dogs and companions.

 

  • The Incredible Journey Author Sheila Burnford’s book was made into a movie, Homeward Bound. It follows the adventures of two dogs and a cat as they travel to reunite with their owners.

 

  • Shiloh A Newbery Medal winner, this book by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor features 11-year-old Marty Preston, who finds a stray beagle but learns that its real owner is a neighbor who mistreats his dogs.

 

Kid Lit for Young Pups

Several book series feature cartoon dogs like Clifford, Spot and Harry, the dirty dog. Other books recommended by PBS Kids, the nonprofit children's television channel, include:

 

  • Fiction Chowder by Peter Brown, about a bulldog who is different; City Dog by Karla Kuskin, about a city slicker who treks out to the country; Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey, about an invasion by the giant monster dog; P.D. Eastman's Go Dog Go for beginning readers; and Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day, about a rottweiler who's also a baby sitter.

 

  • Nonfiction A Dog's Best Friend: An Activity Book for Kids and Their Dogs by Lisa Rosenthal, a guide that helps kids learn about caring for dogs; Dogs by Gail Gibbons, a general overview that includes facts about breeds and care; Lewis and Clark and Me by Laurie Myers, about Seaman, the dog that accompanied the explorers' expedition; and May I Pet Your Dog? The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs by Stephanie Calmenson.

 

Dog Care and Training

For reference books, Nicholas Dodman, author and professor of animal behavior at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, recommends that every dog owner have on their bookshelf the American Kennel Club's The Complete Dog Book, which has chapters on dog care, training and nutrition, in addition to information on every breed.

 

Rebecca Wallwork, senior editor and book reviewer for the American Kennel Club's Family Dog magazine, recommends that first-time dog owners invest in Kathy Santo's Dog Sense, as it addresses the basics of feeding, care and training. Another good option is Puppy's First Steps: A Proven Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well-Behaved Companion by the faculty of the Cummings School, including Dr. Dodman.

 

To foster greater understanding of our canine companions, Dr. Dodman suggests The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell, an applied animal behaviorist, who looks at how humans behave around dogs. Wallwork endorses animal behaviorist Stanley Coren's work, such as The Modern Dog: A Joyful Exploration of How We Live with Dogs Today, as well as Dr. Dodman's If Only They Could Speak: Understanding the Powerful Bond Between Dogs and Their Owners.

 

Must-read Memoirs

“Memoirs are big right now because of Marley and Me,” says Wallwork. She recommends the following:

 

  • Anything by Jon Katz. The journalist and media critic turned his skills to writing about dogs after adopting a difficult border collie that convinced him to move to a farm. Titles include The Dogs of Bedlam Farm and Katz on Dogs.

 

  • The New Yorkers by Kathleen Schine is about dogs that brought tenants of an Upper West Side apartment building together.

 

  • A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas is a series of essays that strikes a sadder note about dogs and relationships.

 

Dog stories often have the most impact when writers emphasize the human-dog bond. "Personally, I like it when the dog is part of a bigger story," says Wallwork. "Unless a dog is larger than life, it's very hard to let a dog carry an entire book." But maybe your own dog could?

Yoga for Dogs: A 'Doga' How-to Guide

For thousands of years, people have positioned themselves in poses like The Lotus, Salute to the Sun and Downward-facing Dog in an effort to achieve inner peace and improve physical fitness. These individuals practice the ancient art of yoga, whose benefits are widely touted.

Only recently, though, have some devotees come to realize that yoga and its resulting benefits can be extended to their canine companions. That’s why increasing numbers of people bring their pooch to yoga -- or as it’s more popularly known, doga.

Benefits of Doga
“This is a great socializing experience for dogs,” says Kimberly Wilson, a yoga instructor who conducts doga classes in Washington, D.C. “It’s a wonderful bonding experience to be together with your dog while doing something that’s good for you.”

That said, doga means different things to different instructors. For example, Wilson conducts her classes for humans while the dogs simply mill around. “When I lead a dog class, I’m not taking the dogs through any poses,” she explains. “I just encourage people to bring their dogs while I teach yoga to the people.”

Other instructors, however, take a more dog-centered approach. Seattle yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist Brenda Bryan teaches human students to help their dogs perform doga poses. “As we lift, stretch and massage [the dogs], we’re teaching them to trust in the relationship they share with us,” explains Bryan. “They also receive physical benefits, such as relaxation, stress release and an improvement in circulation and range of motion.”

Doga for Dogs Big and Small
Dogs of any size can get into doga. Although many poses appear to involve lifting a dog, which would be problematic for large dogs, lifting is not a requirement. “I have a mastiff who comes to class regularly, and recently a Great Dane also attended one of my classes,” says Bryan. 

Here are some doga poses that dogs of all sizes can perform easily with your help:

  • Chaturanga Have your dog lay on its stomach while you stroke its back.
  • Chair This pose requires your dog to sit on its hind legs while you hold the dog from behind and raise its front paws in the air.
  • Savasana Your dog lies on its back while you stroke its exposed belly.
  • Puppy Paw Mudra Created by Bryan, this pose requires your dog to lie on its stomach with its front legs extended outward. You kneel down behind your dog and place your head on its back while holding its front legs outward with your arms. Then you turn your head to one side.
  • Heart-to-hound Mudra This pose, also created by Bryan, simply requires you to place one hand on your heart and the other on your dog’s heart. Close your eyes and breathe slowly.

Getting Started Think doga might be a great way for you and your dog to spend time together? Here’s how to get started:

Be realistic Don’t expect your dog to be a canine contortionist. Striking a classic Lotus pose is probably far beyond your pet’s physical, much less mental, capability. That doesn’t mean your dog can’t get into the spirit of yoga along with you. Plenty of poses are easy for both people and pooches to master.

Recognize talent Your dog may not be able to do a Lotus or a Tree, which involves complex human body movements, but many everyday canine postures are very similar to yoga poses. For example, a typical doggie play bow -- front legs on the ground, hind legs standing, rear end and tail in the air -- is similar to the classic Downward-facing Dog pose practiced by human yoga adherents.

Look for classes Many major metropolitan areas hold occasional doga classes. For example, Wilson offers her classes to raise funds for the Washington Humane Society. If you can’t find a doga class, consider searching for a traditional yoga class or instructor. Ask if that person would be willing to teach doga or at least allow dogs to join their humans. YogaFinder online contains a searchable worldwide directory of yoga classes.

Do it at home If you can’t find a doga class anywhere, don’t despair. Doga is something you most definitely can try at home with your best friend. Take a look at Bryan’s book, Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi (Skipstone Press 2009). If you’d rather learn while watching, check out Amy Stevens’ Yoga For Dogs DVD, available online.

As you and your dog practice doga together, you’re both likely to gain more than simply a few minutes of quality time together. “The word ‘yoga’ means union -- and dogs are pack animals, so they are all about union,” says Bryan. “Union in yoga means discovering a feeling of connection to all living things. In doga, we move toward that union by first feeling that open-hearted connection to our dogs, then opening up to a broader connection.”

The Pooch Wears Prada: Canine Fashion

For dog lovers, the most lasting image from erstwhile MTV reality series “Newlyweds” may be Jessica Simpson’s Maltipoo, Daisy, in a Louis Vuitton monogram canvas dog carrier. In the years since, the dog-watching public has become used to seeing celebrities turn their pups into style mavens. But it isn’t only the Tori Spellings of the world who are dressing and accessorizing their pups in brand names traditionally associated with the catwalk rather than the dog run.


Celebrities popularized clothing and bling for dogs, and mainstream designers began launching new canine lines to satisfy what they saw as a potential growth market,” says Tierra Bonaldi, spokesperson for the American Pet Products Association. “And it did grow, though it was stronger before the recession hit.” Still, people love treating their pets like family members, and this is just one more way to do that. Bonaldi fills us in on the hottest dog looks on the market.


Bling

Tired of your dog’s nylon collar? Perhaps one encrusted with Swarovski crystals will add new pep to your pup’s step. If you like Swarovski but want something more practical, try a retractable leash with a lead covered in the jewels, which come in a variety of colors.


Costume jewelry is also on the menu this year. Wal-Mart’s Fancy Rhinestone Collar, which looks almost like the real thing, makes chic affordable.


Accessories

Your pooch’s collar need not glimmer in the sun to impress. Burberry, Coach and Tiffany & Co. are vying to wrap themselves around your furry friend’s neck. Burberry offers both collar and leash, as does Coach. Tiffany will ensure that if your dog gets lost, it will do so in style with its sterling silver dog bone tag charm.


Even pre-recession, big box stores like Old Navy and Target were already in the collar and leash market. Their stylish accessories have become even more appealing as the stock market continues its descent.


Black Tie

For your dog’s next stroll down the red carpet, exclusive just-for-dogs brand Little Lily has taken last year’s hottest Oscar looks and translated them into dog size. Now Fido can wear George Clooney’s tux, while Fifi can don Anne Hathaway’s gown.


Every Day

What’s a dog to wear when lying around the house or taking a simple stroll around the block? Just as Juicy Couture met the velour pantsuit needs of hundreds of thousands of American women, the brand is coming to doggies’ loungewear rescue with T-shirts, hoodies and parkas. If your pooch longs for more highbrow house wear, Ralph Lauren’s cashmere ruffle sweater may make your pet bark for joy. For more reasonably priced leisure wear, your pet can’t go wrong at Old Navy, Target or Wal-Mart.


Coming Soon

According to Bonaldi, a new company called Celebrity Pet will soon be launching a series of canine couture lines designed by celebrities. Former Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith will be the brand’s first celeb designer. “Fashion is a lucrative part of the pet industry,” Bonaldi explains.


Doggie Dressing Rules

  • Know your dog’s measurements before you buy. Dog clothing does not come in standard sizes, but if you know your pet’s weight, neck circumference and body length, you’ll be able to determine the right size, no matter the brand.

  • Be aware of your dog’s comfort zone. Not all dogs like wearing all fabrics. Try inexpensive cottons and knits to test your furry friend’s tolerance before you go all out on a designer wardrobe that might never see the sidewalk.

  • Wash your dog’s wardrobe by hand to ensure longevity. Dry it on a drying rack to avoid shrinking.

Dogs don’t have the capacity to feel silly in clothes, and they tend to get a lot of attention when wearing them, so being dressed may be an enjoyable experience for them,” says Bonaldi. “For many owners, it’s a fun extension of what they enjoy in fashion for themselves. Plus it makes them feel good to pamper their pets.” Bonaldi’s own dog and cat, Dolce and Gabbana, are still waiting for their namesakes to enter the animal fashion market.