Capree Kimball Answers All of Your Pet Product Curiosities
Posted ago by Carli
Capree Kimball is the editor of Dog Milk, the most likable pet product expert on the planet, and the owner of two adorable dogs (Wrigley and Smash, pictured above). Best of all, she took the time to answer YOUR questions!
When we scored the golden opportunity to interview our favorite pet product expert, we decided to open it up to the Quirky community—a big thank you to all who nominated questions! After our initial announcement, we sifted through all the wonderful community queries, and rounded up some of our favorites to share with Capree. Here’s what she said…
One of the most annoying problems I have with my dogs (Willie and Benny) is that their favorite toy, a tennis ball, inevitably rolls under the furniture, and they will pester me until I get it. Then, it happens over and over and over again! What is one of the most annoying issues you have with your dogs, and what have you found that is a fix? (Pushkin)
Oh. My. Goodness. We share the same most annoying problem, Pushkin! (It only happens when you’re trying to watch a show, right?) Sadly, I have not found a solution other than to put the offending toys up when I’m watching a movie, etc. At other times, I’m just a ball-under-the-couch-fetching slave.
What is your criteria for picking the best and brightest of the new doggie products? What must they have to make the cut? (Robyn Arouty)
I’m a sucker for that moment when form and function collide perfectly; it’s magical. Does it look good? And does it solve a problem or meet a need in a clever, new, or unique way while looking good? If the answer is ‘yes’, I can’t resist writing about it. And, preference is always given to products that use quality materials without being cost-prohibitive. Always.
I have a spoiled-rotten Chinese Crested/Xolo mix named Harry that seems to like blue toys better than any other. I have heard dogs can see some colors better than others — do you know if color for a “color blind” pet makes any difference in products? I expect it has to look good to us, but have you ever made how a dog sees color a factor in selecting products? (Beanamid)
I have heard this as well! If a pet is color blind, I’m not sure that the color of the product would make that big of a difference. Like you said, I think it’s more for the pet owners and what looks good to them. For example, I personally choose products/colors that will look good in my own home (i.e. pet beds, bowls, etc.). I would, however, like to see more products incorporate pattern and texture — I think that has a bigger impact on a dog’s experience than color.
Who do you consider your real customers: the pets or the pet owners? (MarkH)
Both! Whatever the product, it has to first appeal to the pet owner (the buyer/purchaser). If it doesn’t, it will never make it to the end user — the pets! If it does make it past the first round of owner-approval, it still has to be appealing to the dog (or cat). The two go hand-in-hand (or paw-in-paw).
Are all animal lovers alike, or is there really a difference between cat people and dog people? What are the demographics of different animal lovers? (Teri Frantz)
Oh, there is definitely a difference (says this self-proclaimed “dog person”)! So many surveys, studies, infographics, and the like have been written and shared on the subject. Hunch.com polled 200,000 self-proclaimed “dog” and “cat” people recently — the results were fascinating. A few interesting points: Cat people are “21% more likely to enjoy ironic humor and puns”. Dog people are “36% more likely to use a popular song as a ringtone”. Who knew?
Is there a fabric that could be used for a soft toy, that would be able to protect the parts for an interactive toy when a dog is tearing into it? (ShelleyS)
If there is, I haven’t yet seen it. There are certainly “tough” soft toys, but they are not indestructible. I would love, love, love to see a soft toy that is finally, truly made from non-tearable materials. Please, Quirky people, figure out a solution!
What are pet owners most interested in? (E.A.)
The health and happiness of their pets, of course! Plus, any products that improve the quality of life for their pets and themselves.
What are the primary categories you see pet owners take an interest in? (Jessica Jones)
Nutrition, for sure! Which is why there are so many varied (and extremely passionate) viewpoints on the subject. After that, if we’re strictly talking products, positive training/behavioral issue solutions and products that help stimulate your pet’s natural curiosity and instincts (whether that’s a toy, a feeder, etc.).
Why are electronic nail grinders a cylinder when they should be flat? The cylinder grinder bounces around the tip of the nail, and it takes a bunch of effort to keep it at the tip of the nail— especially when the dog is constantly pulling away from the grinder! (Heather O’Donahoe)
I believe that nail grinders are cylindrical because, as with wood sanders and the like, cylinders are used for shaping while flat discs are used for cutting. If the grinder were a flat disc, you could potentially really hurt your pet. Personally, I prefer nail clippers to grinders simply because they’re less of a hassle.
Is there still room for something different than the average poop-catch item on the market? (G. James)
Are we talking pooper scoopers or poo bags? There is always room for something different, especially if it helps make something like cleaning up dog poop more… enjoyable? Less time-consuming? Easy? Figure out a way to do all three of those, please! Meanwhile, I will continue to spend a ridiculous amount of time, hunched over in my backyard, picking up after my two dogs.
What needs do pet owners express, in terms of products, in the area of training and caring for pets? (Adolfo Soberanis)
Products that encourage positive reinforcement for good behavior are always good when it comes to training. Coupled with that, dogs have a natural desire to please and to ‘work’. Part of caring for your pet is providing opportunities for them to do so. Interactive toys, feeders, etc. help stimulate their minds, create a sense of accomplishment (i.e. they’ve completed a task or job), and give the pet owner a chance to offer positive feedback, satisfying the dog’s need to please. Products that facilitate that will ultimately create a happier dog and a happier owner.
What processes do you feel need more innovation, and why? Grooming? Feeding? Toys? (Elle)
I’d love to see more durable toys on the market. Toys made from quality materials. So many don’t last more than 5 minutes, which is a huge, huge waste on so many levels.
What have been the most innovative and useful pet products recently released? Do you see any room for development in particular pet product areas? (Judi Sigler)
One of my favorite new products from this last year is the Green Slow Feeder (pictured below) from Company of Animals. It simultaneously encourages your dog to “work” for his food (a natural need and desire), while providing mental stimulation as well as slowing down their — for lack of a better term — “consumption rate”. Slower eating means less chance of vomiting, gagging, gas, etc. — or developing bloat, which is potentially fatal. So, a product that accomplishes all of those things is definitely innovative in my book!
A product that I would love to see developed and improved upon is the crate. Crate training is a necessity for many and most dog owners but… crates are hideous. They’re just big wire boxes; surely there’s something better than that? Please, someone, make something aesthetically pleasing for those pet owners whose dogs need — or even love and find safety in — their crates. Please!
From your perspective, has the pet industry reached a saturation point, or is it just humming along, ripe with opportunities for more growth and creativity, even if many of the products are the same (i.e. pet bowls, sleeping pads, leashes, toys, etc)? (Eric Ransom)
I believe there is always room for growth, creativity, and improvement in any industry. Has the best pet bowl (or bed, leash, toy, etc.) EVER already been invented? I hope not!
If you’d like to continue this pet-focused conversation, join us for this week’s episode of Feedback Friday at 3pm ET on Quirky Live. This week’s episode will feature Quirky staffers who review our pet idea submissions, so start prepping your questions!