Breeding Better Behavior
After nearly 40 years in business, The Company of Animals continues to innovate the training and behavior category.
There are no bad dogs, just dog owners who are not using the right training techniques and accessories. A pioneer in pet behavior products, The Company of Animals has helped these dog owners remedy various behavior issues for nearly four decades. Over that span, the U.K.-based company, which has U.S. operations in Davenport, Fla., has a built a portfolio of more than 40 different product ranges.
This desire to protect humans and their furry loved ones has been the company’s main focus throughout the years. “Meeting the needs of pet parents has been a fundamental goal of ours since we began creating pet products almost 40 years ago,” says Bianca Rossi, head of marketing, Americas, for The Company of Animals. “We have kept dogs, and the people that love them at the heart of everything we do.”
In 1979, Dr. Roger Mugford founded the Training and Behavior Centre on his 100-acre farm in Surrey, England. Dr. Mugford, who has advanced degrees in zoology and psychology, founded the training facility as a site for dog training, behavior consultations and for resolving legal issues about pets in and out of court.
Also on his farm, Dr. Mugford founded The Company of Animals as a vehicle to sell his inventions. The pet psychologist’s first invention was the HALTI Headcollar, which is designed to address what the company says is dog owners’ top complaint—dogs pulling the leash. The headcollar works by gently steering the dog’s head and giving the human control over its movement. The idea was inspired by Dr. Mugford’s experiences with herding and leading horses on his farm.
The original headcollar earned positive reviews from trainers and dog owners alike. The product became so successful that the brand soon expanded to other no-pull training products such as the HALTI OptiFit headcollar, which has neoprene on the noseband for comfort. The HALTI Harness works on the same principle of front control, but from the chest. There is also an extensive line of HALTI Walking and HALTI Training products.
Among the newer brands is the Baskerville Muzzle, which is designed to protect against bites while being comfortable enough for the dog to breathe and eat. The muzzle features ergonomically designed strapping to keep it in place, and a loop at the bottom attaches to the dog’s regular collar. There is a removable over-the-head safety strap and a secure metal buckle. The Baskerville Muzzle is made with malleable thermo plastic rubber (TPR) and is available in six sizes to fit a wide range of dogs, but it was invented presumably to protect dogs that are often targeted in anti-breed laws and other bans. The muzzle, the company notes on its website, does more to protect owners and their dogs than legislation.
An Expanding Lineup
Over the years, The Company of Animals has expanded to other behavior products. For example, Dr. Mugford also invented the hand-held Pet Corrector device, which interrupts unwanted behavior by emitting compressed air. The sound of a hiss of air gets the attention of the dog because the spectrum of sound is associated with danger. To the dog, the hiss sounds like a snake, goose, bee or other animal. The Pet Corrector is available in three sizes—30 ml, 50 ml, 200 ml—and there is a holster for the 50 ml. Dr. Mugford, who also is known in the U.K. as a dog trainer for Queen Elizabeth’s corgis and other celebrity and non-celebrity pups, reportedly brings a can of Pet Corrector with him on his dog training visits to customers’ homes, according to The Telegraph.
Another brand in the lineup is the CLIX range of training accessories, which is popular among trainers and behaviorists and includes whistles, canvas dummies, long recall leads and treat bags.
The founder’s background, and the ongoing focus on training, have been the basis of the company’s mission and identity for decades. “These roots have kept us grounded to our core beliefs and have allowed us to develop products that help resolve pet related training and behavior products both safely and humanely,” Rossi says. “We stay true to these values and place priority on them over any trendy marketing technique, as we have seen those come and go, and choose to rather focus our efforts on high-quality and humane products that keep our pets safe while solving problems for pet parents.”
Success at Retail
Dogs and their owners are not the only ones who need training. The training and behavior products offered by The Company of Animals are more complex than some other items available in pet specialty retailers, so the company has worked to get the word out about what the products do, and why retailers should assist pet owners in their training goals.
“Educating our consumers, store owners and staff has been one of the most important steps we take in getting our products on the shelves,” Rossi says. “We place a strong emphasis on getting the most accurate and useful training and behavior information we can to our consumers in hopes of aiding their decision making processes.”
The effort has paid off, as The Company of Animals products are now sold in more than 50 countries worldwide. Earlier this year, the company won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise—an award for British businesses—in the International Trade category. “It’s a huge milestone for the business and reflects the ongoing success and phenomenal growth by the business over the past six years,” Rossi says.
The company does not rest on its success, though, and pays close attention to how the shopping behaviors of consumers has changed over the years, as well as what retailers need to succeed in the training category. “The feedback we receive from our retailers is invaluable. It extends into every branch of our company and motivates us to work to improve customer pain points and develop products to meet their needs,” Rossi says.
Among the company’s newest products is the improved HALTI Headcollar, which features highly reflective webbing with greater padding in a lightweight form that delivers, when needed, a consistent pressure with instant release to optimize kind, no-pull training. Also new is the updated Baskervillle Ultra Muzzle, which offers a faster, more dexterous fitting with built-in safety features and stronger, lightweight functional parts.
A corporate rebranding has also been in the works, with The Company of Animals debuting its new look at last month’s SuperZoo trade show. The rebranding, a project that the company began in early 2017, involved much research into the global pet product market and its consumers.
The new look, Rossi said in a press release before the trade show, better represents the brand identity. “We’re confident these changes will resonate with consumers and further The Company of Animals as a key player in the training and behavior category.” PB