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October 12, 2015

When it comes to plush dog toys, creativity is key as manufacturers vie for shelf space. By both extending popular lines and designing new engaging shapes, companies hope to tempt owners to buy more toys.

Cute New Characters

It’s been a while since there have been new toys from Petmate’s Fat Cat brand, but the company launched several at SuperZoo in July.

“Fat Cat Plumpies are designed to roll and throw,” said Maria Habermann, public relations spokesperson for the company. “They have floppy parts that are easy for dogs to grip and, of course, have squeakers. The lineup includes a crocodile, a cheetah and a meerkat. Fat Cat Finimals are a collection of fish-shaped creatures with supercilious grins and floppy fins to give the renowned Fat Cat ‘floppability’ when shaken about. The school consists of a dogfish, a tigerfish, a lionfish and a bull fish.”

The company’s Zoobilee line of Heggies has some quirky new characters, too. These soft cuddly toys grunt instead of squeak and the popular Hedgedog has new company as the lineup now includes a clown, princess, Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood.

Hedgehogs and fish shapes are generally popular characters in the dog toy department.

New from Ethical Pet Products are Nosy Hedgehogs, which are 10-inch long super-plush toys with an elongated nose that makes them easy for canine players to pick up and enjoy. A great addition to any toy box.

One of the many lines of HuggleHounds toys from Allure Pet Products includes new characters in its Knotties corduroy collection. Apart from fun Barnyard Knotties and Woodland Knotties, there are also some special holiday characters for Halloween, such as Frankenstein and a Black Cat Knottie. There are also holiday toys such as a Santa Sock Monkey Knottie and a Santa Knottie in festive red and white, which should be popular choices for those dog parents who want to buy their pup some stocking stuffers.

The popular goDog line of toys, originally developed by the Quaker Pet Group, which is now part of the Worldwise family of brands, has added more dragons to its lineup.

Skinny Dragons are a long tube-shaped toy that dogs love to carry around. The Grunter Dragons are a round-shaped designed great for playing fetch. And the Flat Dragons are a stuffing-free version in a new horizontal design. All these dragon lines come in three colors and two sizes.

With the holiday season only months away, the company has holiday dragons with antlers and Santa hats. Retailers who spend more than $750 on the goDog line get a free giant inflatable dragon to display in their store.

Going Stuffless

“While we have always been a major supplier of stuffed plush dog toys, the trend for stuffing-free toys continues to grow,” said Susan McCann, national marketing manager for Ethical Products, Inc. “The stuffing-free concept has provided a solution to a common problem pet parents face daily, namely, the issue of their dog de-stuffing a plush toy.”

“To this end, the company has launched a line called Skinneeez Squeak Off, consisting of a stuffing-free fox and raccoon with an on/off squeaker switch that gives the dog owner control of the sound of their dog’s toy,” she said. “A simple flick of the switch makes the toy go from noisy to silent. So they are perfect for keeping playtime quite when it counts.

The squeaker inside continues to squeak even when they are punctured.”

Multiple Materials

Silly Bums is the registered trademark on a line of whimsical soft and crinkly toys from R2P Pet with the tagline that reads “nuthin’ butt fun for your dog!” These soft plush toys have special crinkly “junk in their trunks” and are available in a large selection of different themes and animals that include a beaver bum, a baboon, a zebra and a giraffe, as well as a variety of birds from a pheasant to a macaw.

“They are available from a small size through to a jumbo size,” said Nancy Waters, marketing manager for R2P Group Inc.

Hyper Pet—known for its HyperDog launchers and high energy throw and chew toys—has introduced a line called Tough Plush in wild animal shapes such as a brown bear, a tiger and a giraffe. They have a tough edge binding for durability along with extra dense stuffing, and have two squeakers inside to ramp up the fun and games.

The company’s range of Real Skinz are a multitextured stuffing-free line of critters such as a raccoon, an opossum and a skunk.

“Our new Home Collection features toys called Cozy Critterz,” added Sarah Bell, director of marketing for Hyper Pet. “There is a lizard and a buzzard, and they are made from a variety of materials for multitextured play. The Bumpy Palz toys feature a plush monkey and a raccoon with a ball in their belly to add more bounce to the fun.”

Fun and Functional

Patchwork Pet, a California-based company known for its plush lines of colorful, “multi-FUNctional” toys has produced new play and training tug toys.

“Our Play Tugs are densely stuffed and available in two fabric styles and two sizes, making them the perfect tug challenge for any dog,” said Susan Cushman, sales manager for the company. “The Training Tugs are both a tug toy and a treat pouch for training. The black canvas fabric is embroidered with the bright distinctive Patchwork logo and the treats are secured in nylon-lined pouch secured by a Velcro and zipper closure. The Training Tugs can be attached to a dog’s leash or looped through a belt and are soft enough to carry in a pocket or purse.”

Addressing the latest trends, Cushman pointed out that with fall and winter approaching, dogs would be indoors more.

“This presents pet parents with more opportunities to do more than just play toss and fetch,” she said. “So we believe that toys with pull-through tug ropes, puzzles and hidden treats are going to be very popular in the months ahead. Not to mention seasonal toys that tap in to popular holidays such as Halloween, Hanukkah and Christmas.”

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