Delicious Doggie Delights

Around the country, retailers of canine confectionary unanimously agree that the secret ingredient to all doggy delights is its “eye candy appeal” because that’s what is going to prompt the person on the other end of the leash to let go of the purse strings and splurge…


Here’s the recipe for successful doggy confectionary.

Take a selection of wholesome ingredients like whole-wheat flour, apples, cheese and honey.

Add generous amounts of organic peanut butter or carob. Yogurt can be substituted without jeopardizing flavor.

Decorate with a liberal sprinkling of creative imagination and top with a dollop of fun colors.

Served best at room temperature and guaranteed to sell like hot cakes…

Around the country, retailers of canine confectionary unanimously agree that the secret ingredient to all doggy delights is its “eye candy appeal” because that’s what is going to prompt the person on the other end of the leash to let go of the purse strings and splurge…

“Customers are definitely buying what’s visually delectable to them,” says Scott Rinehart of Wiskers Pet Beastro in Belmont Shore, California. “If it’s a pupcake, it has to be simply dripping with carob and tempting enough for the consumer to put his hand in his pocket and reach for dollar bills.”

Rinehart and his business partner Jim Poer were baking in store until demand exceeded their supply. Subsequently, they rented premises elsewhere in Long Beach to specifically house their baking operation.

“Now we are baking for our two stores as well as other pet boutiques and gift stores,” says Rinehart who confirms that canine goodies account for about 25 pr cent of their turnover.

“It’s not just about treats. Customers are buying into the whole presentation package. We display them in a typical bakery case and wrap up the items in cellophane with a bow or in a specially designed box.”

According to AdreAnne Tesene of Two Bostons Pet Boutique and Gourmet Bakery in Chicago, Illinois, anything that resembles human confectionary – like Oreo cookies or a cannoli, donuts or croissants has instant appeal.

“Buying delicious delights for your dog is considered a fun family outing,” says Tesene. “One customer brought her kids into the store and allowed them to select goodies for their dog as a treat for getting their homework done.

“This is why dog lovers are willing to willing to pay $2 and more for an individually made and packaged treat over a pre-packed selection on the regular shelves. The ingredients may be the same, but once again, it’s that visual ingredient that controls the selection process.”

Initially, Tesene was baking everything herself only to discover that it was difficult to divide her time between keeping an eye on cookies in the oven and providing good customer service. So she started buying in a selection of goodies from professional canine bakers to supplement her own.

“A lot of retailers are faced with similar problems,” says Bradley Isroff of Pawsitively Gourmet in Denver, Colorado, a wholesale canine confectioner who supplies retailers countrywide with irresistible treats to fill their bakery display cases.

“Retailers have to weigh up the costs between employing an extra pair of hands in- store in order to ensure their in-store baking doesn’t compromise their customer service versus buying in ready made goods from professional bakers. Often the latter is far more cost effective because bakers like us have the infrastructure to bake and ship very competitively. We supply everything from the custom-designed acrylic display cases to a selection of individual packaging.”

Other retailers like Tesene who supplement their in-store baking this way says it gives them the added advantage of being able to offer customers a bigger selection.

Geri and Audie Ray, owners of Metropawlis Pet Boutique and Bakery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin have joined forced with the Judy and Kevin Kindt of the Three Amigos Pet Bakery and moved into bigger more accommodating premises in order to ensure they are able to offer their canine customers a mouthwatering selection of treats.

“Not only do people who love their pets want to spoil them, but we have found that they are also very supportive of local businesses,” says Geri Ray. “They tell us what they want and encourage us to experiment with new ideas. In our neck of the woods, Friday night is a big doggy treat night.”

Kristina Robertson of Barkely Square Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia says that apart from fun cookies shaped like fire hydrants and postmen and Labrador-shaped cheese dogs, there is a growing demand for birthday cakes.

Retailers from coast to coast echo her sentiments endorsing this hugely popular growing trend.

And once again, decoration plays a huge role.

“We were once in a very embassasing situation when a customer walked in and wanted to place an order for an anniversary cake,” laughs Tesene. “ The employee was new and too shy to point out that we only baked for dogs.”

“Our most popular birthday cake has a banana filling with a yogurt cream cheese frosting,” says Geri Ray.

Rinehart points out that it is very easy to take a human recipe and adapt it for dogs by simply replacing white flour with whole wheat flour, carob instead of chocolate and cutting out sugar completely.

“I guess it’s a lot like baking for diabetics,” he adds.

In many instances, with the doggy birthday cake comes the complete pawty package with balloons, streamers, hats and goody bags to take home as retailers find themselves taking on the role of doggy event planners, throwing in-store birthday bashes for canine customers.

“This is big business,” says Rinehart who has also organized a couple of doggy weddings “Fortunately, we have a nice area outside our store and in the summer we bring out the plastic swimming pool for the canine guests to play and clean off after cake and doggy ice cream.”

Retailers say that customers are willing to pay anything between $12 and nearly $40 for a birthday cake for that special pooch in their lives.

Another positive spin-off from selling doggy bakery items and treats is that promotes good customer relations. Retailers with stores bordering popular neighborhood walking routes say that dogs drag their owners in on a daily basis for a treat. And of course, once in store, there’s a likelihood of them buying other items.

“ It’s also a great way to get to know customers on a really personal level, an essential building block for any small business,” points out Geri Ray.

Of course our good customers also become our taste-testers for new products,” says Rinehart who has gone as far to name some of his confectionary items after his best customers. Tilly’s awesome garlic and cheese treat is named after a cheese-loving Basset hound named Tilly. The bone-shaped cranberry cookies are named after a cranberry -loving canine customer named Micky.

Retailers say that while they are cognizant of using high quality, low fat ingredients and make every effort to shy away from preservatives, they are not overly concerned about providing low-carb or low calorie items.

“We are aware of the problem of obesity in pets,” says Isroff. “And while our products are generally low fat, the focus is different because we are not producing a meal or a meal substitute. Our goal is visually indulgent pet treats.

“Currently our business is all about dogs. However, we are beginning to explore and research the feline market. Cats are much more finicky. Most dogs will eat just about anything.”

Tesene offers the last crumb of advice pointing out that a growing number of doggy customers have a very discriminating palate.

“Some dogs are so spoilt they simply refuse anything pre-packaged. While others definitely have their favorites.

“ The best way to tell whether a doggy treat is a real doggy delight is without doubt the drool factor and the instant expectation for more”

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