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On the Move: Form, Function Drive Leashes, Collars & Harnesses


July 1, 2022

The list of essential products that every dog or cat parent needs must always include leashes and collars/harnesses. Collars, especially those with ID tags, are often required in many municipalities. Meanwhile, leashes are not only required in most cities, they’re also an important training tool for puppies.

When it comes to leashes, retailers are advised to carry multiple leash styles with different materials and lengths. As for collars and harnesses, the theory is the same; retailers should stock not only a wide variety of styles, but also sizes for each product line. Experts agree that when it comes to collars and harnesses, proper fit is critical. Ensuring a proper fit can help eliminate chafing and reduce the risk of the dog escaping the collar or harness.

Pet parents are becoming adventurous with their companion cats, making it important that retailers service these customers and carry accessories designed for felines. This demand for cat collars and harnesses will surely grow as more pet parents seek to train their cat or kitten to take outdoor walks. Size and comfort are extremely important when it comes to a cat collar or harness, especially due to the finicky attitude of cats.

Kitty Holster cat harnesses created by Texas-based Crazy K Farm are soft harnesses that are both lightweight and highly adjustable.

“Cat owners want a harness that is not only comfortable for their cat, but easy for them to put on their pet,” said Tobi Kosanke, president of Crazy K Farm. “The innovative Kitty Holster addresses the needs and desires of both cats and their owners. Retailers understand that cats are not small dogs, or ‘small pets,’ and harnesses designed for these animals will not fit a cat correctly.

Made from 100 percent cotton, the Kitty Holster is lightweight and designed for a feline body. Its design also features no abrasive elements, like plastic buckles, webbing or straps. This, according to Kosanke, has resulted in the Kitty Holster having a lower return rate than standard harnesses.

“Cats are narrow, flexible and often difficult to restrain to put a harness on, and the mesh lining on most of dog and small-pet harnesses is very abrasive to cat fur,” she added. “Retailers also know that cats are able to escape from harnesses with discrete closure points or difficult-to-adjust continuous closures because these closure systems often result in a poor, and consequently unsecure, fit.”

Additionally, the Kitty Holster, when fastened snuggly, is not only difficult for cats to escape from, but makes them feel safer. The Kitty Holster comes in four different sizes to ensure pet parents can find the ideal fit for companion cat.

The patent-pending Prey Saver cat collar is another innovative Crazy K Farm product, this time with a focus on keeping small prey animals safe from felines. The U.S.-made Elizabethan-style collar combines a loud bell with bright-colored fabric and a super-reflective border, plus a bright, retroreflective tape along the outer edge.

“Customers need this because the Prey Saver collar makes their stalking cats more visually and audibly noticeable to small prey animals in both bright and dim light conditions, giving them time to fly or run away to safety,” Kosanke said. “Retailers need this because there is nothing like it on their shelves to offer to customers to help protect small animals from their indoor/outdoor or outdoor cats, who are likely to prey on them.”

Headquartered in Conway, Arkansas, Leather Brothers doesn’t limit itself to offer dog leashes and collars. The brand services both dogs and cats under the OmniPet brand, such as the LUXE leather collars. Made of supple leather and incorporating nickel-plated hardware, the collars come in a variety of sizes, widths and colors. Nylon and leather leads are also available.

Among its notable line of leather cat collars is the Signature Leather line, which is made in the U.S.A. and features a safety stretch band with nickel-plated hardware. Available in a wide array of regular and metallic colors, each collar comes with a bell so pet parents can keep track of their companion cat. The company also has a wide selection of other collar types and leashes in various colors and patterns that entice pet parents and add individuality and creativity, without sacrificing safety and durability.

It’s no secret that customers want the best for their pets, and many love spoiling them with high-end products. Whereas the trend was once being the first on the block to show off one’s pet in a trendy collar, social media has taken that to a whole new level. Premium has become a key word as people grow more aware of their pet’s leashes, collars and harnesses for photo opportunities at a variety of situations and activities.

That’s why retailers should not be sleeping on the premium product lines among today’s fashionable, stylish collars, harnesses and leashes. When a retailer carries a high quality, fashion line that isn’t available from its competitors, it opens the door to increased sales and word-of-mouth attention as more customers become aware of the products.

Founded in in 2015 in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria, Bestia Pet specializes in the manufacturing of high-quality, premium leather accessories for dogs; especially those that are large breeds. The brand’s product line includes dog collars, harnesses, leashes and muzzles, but also features cat collars, puppy collars and a dog sport line.

“It all started as a hobby, but with a lot of hard work, dedication and motivation, that hobby turned into a successful business,” explained Viktor Nedkov, CEO of Bestia Pet. “We grew up and now the company manufactures over 200 products a day. Although we have highly skilled, well-trained staff and lots of specialized machinery, still there are many operations that are done by hand – that’s why we label our products as ‘handmade.’ ”

Bestia has found its niche in combining quality, comfort and a stylish appearance into a single product. When crafting its genuine leather collars, harnesses and leashes, Bestia imports the finest belt leathers from Germany, Greece, Spain and Italy. All leathers are ethically sourced and vegetable-tanned with natural oils that are eco-friendly. All Bestia products are padded with orthopedic foam for maximum comfort. The foam is covered with napa leather, which makes it resistible but also soft and comfortable.

The brand’s Dog Sport Line is promoted for sporting dogs, such as waterproof and fast-release collars, as well as training gear, including weighted collars and control harnesses.

“Talking about big dogs and pullers, safety is most important,” Nedkov added. “Our products are not only comfortable and good looking but reliable. Buckles, frames and leash attachments are heavy duty and welded.”

A relative newcomer on the market is one that has quickly garnered attention for its fashion-forward look that doesn’t compromise on safety and durability. Zee.Dog is a brand that has entered the pet product industry under the notion of doing things differently.

“We follow what is trending, and we create pet products with a fundamental understanding of what people want,” stated Karishma Patel, the brand’s e-commerce marketing specialist. “Zee.Dog was born out of a necessity first and foremost and, since then, we have grown a worldwide community of dog lovers that look for an alternative.”

According to Patel, two of Zee.Dog’s most popular products are its Hands-Free Leash and Running Belt.

The Hands-Free Leash is an ultra-versatile dog leash that can be used in three different ways. It can be worn across the pet parent’s chest, around the waist or used as a long leash. Unlike other hands-free leashes, there are no rings or complicated mechanisms. The e.Zee lock buckle allows the pet parent to tether the dog to a table leg or tree with ease.

The Zee.Run Running Belt makes hands-free running with a dog smooth by simply attaching the dog leash to the shock-absorbing leash strap. Additional features designed include a headphone port, water-resistant pocket for phones and a hook for keys. It also has reflective detail for visibility at night.

“The Hands-Free Leash has wide appeal in the value it provides,” Patel added. “It has been successful among younger buyers that need to carry their groceries or take a call when they walk their dog. It’s also popular with moms pushing their babies’ strollers and older customers that have wrist and hand issues. The Zee.Run Running Belt is great for pet owners wanting to enjoy a smooth run with their dog. The flexibility is what customers love most about this running belt as it can be used with any dog leash.”

One way that manufacturers are innovating their collars to give pet owners peace of mind is by incorporating technology into their products. Smart tech has started to make an impact in the collar category, thanks to pet parents wanting to utilize GPS and analytics being offered by such brands as Fi and Wagz.

Founded by Jonathan Bensamoun (Square) and Loren Kirkby (Dropcam, Google/Nest) in 2017, Fi builds cutting-edge technology to elevate the relationship between dog parents and their dogs. Since launching the first LTE-M enabled GPS tracking collar in 2019, Fi has empowered millions of dog parents with insights about their dogs’ whereabouts and behavior. Allowing dog owners to locate their dogs from anywhere in the world, Fi states it has saved thousands of dogs’ lives by providing real-time escape notifications and accurate GPS tracking to dog parents. The Fi smart collar also enables parents to monitor the health of their dogs and compare their activity to other dogs on the Fi network.

We are constantly thinking about the information that we can get from the collar and that can help dog parents keep their dogs more healthy,” said Jonathan Bensamoun, founder and CEO of Fi. Talking with vets it became obvious that after changes in activity level, which we already monitor, changes in sleep pattern – or rest in general –are a typical early indicator of a health condition. What is especially powerful about sleep tracking is that the parent is sleeping as well at that time, so they might not notice if their dog is, for example, interrupting their rest at night to drink frequently. We are really excited to help parents catch potential issues much earlier with this feature.”

In August 2021, Wagz released its Freedom Smart Dog Collar, Launch Edition. The Freedom Collar is the only virtual pet containment and wellness system with shock-free geofence technology, allowing pet parents to monitor and track their dog’s location, safety and health.

“The idea for a fully connected dog collar was born when our new puppy ran off after being scared by fireworks. Luckily, she was found safe days later, but in that time, I decided to create a better way to stay connected to our dogs in real-time,” explained Wagz founder and CEO Terry Anderton. “This has taken on new importance recently, as during the pandemic the number of homes adding pets has increased dramatically. With a lot of families returning to work, school, and their everyday lives, this raises the importance of staying connected to our pets, even while we are apart.”

The Freedom Collar, paired with the Wagz App and a cellular network subscription plan, gives pet owners the ability to create and save multiple, customizable shock-free geofences anywhere on a map – even crossing rivers, streams and uneven terrain. There’s no need to walk the perimeter of one’s property to create a geofence; just drop pins onto the satellite image of the location and a virtual fence is created. Pet parents also have the ability to designate Keep Out Zones, providing peace of mind that their dog will stay out of “off-limit” areas, such as pools, ponds and gardens.

The Freedom Smart Collar also provides valuable insights into a dog’s overall well-being, updating owners regularly with a Health & Happiness Score based on step count, daily exercise and sleep time, breed and more. The collar includes two removable, rechargeable batteries, a safety light for enhanced visibility at night, as well as ambient temperature alerts notifying owners when it is too hot or cold for their dog.

As always, retailers who are knowledgeable about the proper usage of the products they sell will stand out by their ability to assist their customers in matching the appropriate selection for a specific companion animal. This expertise will ultimately build consumer loyalty, which is a priceless commodity in today’s competitive retail environment. When it comes to selling leashes and collars, it’s important for retailers to diversify offerings in terms of price point and different-sized dogs or cats.

When it comes to selling these products, it’s important for retailers to inquire about pet behavior and the customer’s objectives. If a pet parent seeks more control over a dog, the retailer should inquire about the leash length to determine if a pet parent seeks a shorter leash length for more control over a dog of needs a longer length for a hiking trip.

Because of consumer concerns over safety with regards to leashes, collars and harnesses, retailers should be certain to stress this aspect when discussing these specific products with their customers. Whether the product is a cat harness or dog collar, detailed discussion is a must when it comes to any of the items in this category. After all, every companion animal is unique, and each product has its specific features and benefits. Plus, doing so ensures a better outcome for both pet and owner.

 

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