Creating ‘Houdini-Proof’ Products

Sandy Robins//October 1, 2014//

Creating ‘Houdini-Proof’ Products

Sandy Robins //October 1, 2014//

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Containment products, whether it’s a crate that can be used both at home or in a vehicle, or gates for both indoor and outdoor use, are important products for dog safety.

The latest innovations in this category focus on both well-designed and functional features.

“When you look on YouTube, there are countless videos of dogs escaping from crates,” said John Rodriguez, communications and marketing specialist for Precision Pet Products. “Many commentators consider it comical that their dog is an “escape artist”, but this only highlights very dangerous safety issues.

“Consequently, this inspired us to create our latest crate safety innovation, the Precision Lock System . This patented design secures the crate at the primary door latch, as well as all four corners of the door. It’s designed to prevent dogs from prying the edge of the crate door and escaping, or worse, causing self-injury.”

Their crate pans are made from polypropylene, which is a softer, more pliable material that is resistant to cracking and chipping.

The company also showcased their new Quiet-Links on their Grate Crate Elite line at SuperZoo. This patented feature is designed to eliminate the annoying rattle when a crate is being transported, or when a dog repositions himself in his crate.
While dividers in crates that allow pet owners can expand the size as a puppy becomes full grown, continue to be a popular trend, Rodriguez said that many pet owners like to “baby” their puppies by purchasing pink or blue crates in small sizes.

The company caters to this fashion with their SnooZZy Baby line.

New Features

According to Tara Whitehead from MidWest Pet Homes, the company has focused their latest innovation on crate door designs.

“In addition to the traditional swing-out doors with slide-bolt latches, our Ovation and Ovation Trainer crates have the “Up & Away Door” that stows out of the way and eliminates the need for additional space required for a swing-out door,” she said.
Last year, the company also introduced their MAXLock Door System, which offers multiple lock, points around the door. Further, the ergonomic design allows pet owners to open, close, and lock the door without kneeling or bending.

“Two-door crates continue to be the most popular,” said Whitehead, “Because they offer flexibility with crate placement inside the home or in vehicles. And while crates come in sizes from 18 inches to 54 inches, the most popular sizes are 24 inches, 36 inches and 42 inches.”

Since many pet specialty stores have space issues when it comes to displaying large items, the company offers point-of-purchase materials including size-breed charts. Their packaging has “silent salesman” information on every carton, too.

“Our in-store display allows retailers to stock a full array of cartons while showcasing an assembled crate,” Whitehead said. “The display is on wheels so it is easy to move for cleaning or for new planograms.”

Safety First

According to product information listed on the 4×4 North America website, the company’s European imported Variocage line is the only crash-tested crates in the world. The steel cages are available in 14 sizes and have locking doors operated by gas hydraulic motion springs. The design has an emergency escape hatch as an additional safety feature and both leash hooks and a pill proof water bowl are optional extras.

Cross-category crate pads and crate covers are great add-on accessories for retailers to promote on end caps. Often crate mats are considered disposables because dogs tend to chew them or, alternatively, they become soiled from constant use, especially when a dog is still being crate trained.

To address the chewing issue, the Quaker Pet Group has added their patented Chew Guard technology to their new range of crate mats, which fits all popular crates sizes.

Similarly, Dog Gone Smart Pet Products has introduced a new color pallet for their crate mats which has their proprietary Repelz–It, nano-protection waterproofing technology to reduce soiling.

“In addition, we’ve launched a travel mat that fits all standard crates and carriers for pet owners on the go. It functions as a bed, crate pad or resting spot when traveling,” said Emily Zampello the company’s marketing manager.

While the new Pet Therapeutics line from Enchanted Home Pet features a four-piece set of therapy pads available in standard crate sizes allowing pets some therapeutic relief by easing conditions such as post-operative inflammation and offering support for aching joints as well as improving blood circulation.

Carlson Pet Products have also added new products to their already extensive line of both indoor and outdoor gates.
“Our most innovative feature is a gate that offers hand-free operation,” said Mark Kempton, the company’s sales manger. “It operates with the use of a push-down and release foot pedal.”

Carlson’s Design Studio range of home accents features their “Walk Thru” small pet door built in to their gate to allow cats in a household freedom while still keeping the family dog “behind bars.”

They have also debuted a new weatherproof outdoor containment line which includes expandable pressure-mounted pet gates, an extra tall gate design that stands 32 inches high and a newly designed double door gate which can be used separately or together to give larger access.

The weatherproof Super gate system consists of six 24-inch panels that are configurable and removable to customize a contained outdoor space.