Just Add Water
The summer months are the perfect time for retailers to promote dog hydration products.
There’s nothing a dog loves more than when its owner grabs their hat, reaches for a leash, opens the door and ventures outside into the sunshine and fresh air. But as welcoming as the warm weather can be, many pet owners may be quick to forget to keep their dogs hydrated during the summer months. A dog can get thirsty fast, and it’s vitally important that owners remember to keep water with them at all times while on the go.
Storeowners and operators can take advantage of the warm weather to reinforce the idea of hydration with great in-store displays that show dog owners the many options available in this category.
Getting Out There
When a dog is out and about, the need for water increases dramatically, and dog owners should be prepared. Portable water bottles come in a range of sizes, configurations and design. Portable, collapsible water bowls are also available. These are handy, versatile, lightweight and inexpensive and can also be used for food. Once the dog is refueled and watered, these options can be easily packed away.
Water needn’t just come from a bottle or bowl; hydration also can be fun. Dog toys that squirt, spray and drip provide great backyard amusement while ensuring plenty of fluids get into the dog’s body. One of the most interesting and successful types of toys to come out in recent years is a frozen ice block that holds toys and treats in its center. As the dog licks the ice, the toys and treats inside are gradually exposed.
Remember that any item that can help a retailer cross-sell is important to stock. A customer might have hydration on the mind, but having that customer tour the toy section will present new selling opportunities. A retailer can also show water toys to customers shopping in the toy section while asking if their dog is properly hydrated.
Something else to keep in mind is that people need water as much as their dogs do, so stocking watering options that include design features for both humans and dogs will benefit any retailer. For example, a bottle with a fold out trough allows both the dog and owner to stay hydrated.
Hydration accessories also exist. Manufacturers make backpacks for dogs so they can carry their own water. And there are belt packs designed so that pet owners can carry multiple water bottles at once.
Hydration is not only important when a dog is outside. There are lots of options for watering systems and supplies for the home, as well. Automatic watering systems provide convenience, because dog owners don’t have to constantly clean and fill water bowls. Raised diner sets should have their place on the shelf as well, as these get the bowls off the floor and make it easier for dogs to drink. Waterproof mats help keep the floor clean and organized, especially important for slobbery dogs that love to make a mess of water.
Automatic watering systems are also great items to stock. Simple gravity fed units keep water bowls filled, and powered filtration and circulating systems keep water moving, oxygenated and fresh. These ensure that water bowls stay full and fresh for longer periods of time, giving the owner greater freedom and reassurance that the dog is properly and adequately hydrated.
Automatic watering systems lend themselves to compelling in-store displays. And retailers needn’t order too many units to hold in stock. Try to negotiate with suppliers to provide demonstration units with accompanying promotional materials, including video loops. Also, remember that many of automated watering systems include replacement filters. It’s easy to create eye-catching displays in a store to help customers imagine these products in their own home.
And don’t forget that anything that leads a dog to make a mess also creates a need to clean. Be prepared to recommend effective non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products that are safe to use around the dog’s drinking station.
Think creatively about how water can help a pet business. For example, many health supplements for dogs are formulated to be added to the water bowl. Products that help prevent plaque and tartar build-up on teeth, that help reduce odor or that prevent tearstains should all be mentioned to customers when discussing the importance of proper hydration.
And finally, look for ways to help customers understand other health issues related to water. Many dogs will lap up water from standing pools in the road, or from ponds and urban streams. Often enough, dogs will ingest microorganisms that can lead to illness. Retailers can partner with local vets to help educate customers about ways to prevent such illness.
Dogs need a consistent water supply, but especially when the weather turns hot and families hit the road for travel and outdoor activities. For a storeowner, proper hydration for dogs can lead to a wide range of product selling opportunities. Talk to customers about plans for vacation and holidays, and about their dog’s overall health and nutrition, activity level, likes and dislikes, and preferences for play and toys. Promoting hydration products will definitely help grow a store’s sales.
Dan Headrick is a freelance writer who, with his wife Pam Guthrie, owns Wag Pet Boutique in Raleigh, NC. The couple, former corporate burnouts who just got fed up with having to leave their dogs home alone all day, opened Wag in 2003. The store has received numerous community and industry awards.