Category Archives: Marketing dog treats

Homemade dog biscuits

Grain free dog treats not for all dogs

If you bake dog treats and dog cakes, don’t toss out your wheat flour! Grain free dog products may be today’s trend, but there are downsides too.

I just saw an ad for “oven-baked” grain-free dog treats, which spurred this post. The fact that the treats were “oven-baked” apparently was the “unique” selling point. Really?

So…is grain free better? It is certainly the big trend.

I have nothing against grain free, but there is nothing wrong with wheat! Dog treats are not meant to replace meals or become a full diet. They are exactly what the name says they are: TREATS!

Yes, it’s true that dogs descended from the wild and were carnivorous. They did not sniff around for cakes and biscuits.

Yes, it’s true that to make dog food more economical and cost-effective, grains, especially corn, were added.

Yes, it’s true that 6-7 years ago, a certain toxin was introduced into pet foods to artificially boost the protein content and make the product seem to contribute to health and well-being.

But it’s also true that “grain-free” jerky treats from China are implicated as causing pet deaths.

Depends how you want to spin it.

If you are a small dog bakery, you may be feeling the pressure to jump on the grain free band wagon. Resist making radical changes! If your customers love your treats the way you make them, keep pleasing them.

Many dog treat businesses were born because the owners could not find healthy nutritional solutions for a dietary issue their own pet developed. So they created their own. If a wheat base is used, there’s probably a good reason, and it may not be a health-related one. Not every dog suffers from allergies.

Did you know that wheat promotes acidity in the urine, which helps to dissolve struvite crystals? There certainly are health advantages. Not every dog has allergies.

Pet food manufacturers began adding white potatoes into their products so they could promote them as “grain-free”. This has been reported to be a contributing reason behind the rise in pet diabetes (due to the high carbohydrate content of the potatoes). Many grain-free foods are also high in calories……something humans need to consider for themselves as well.

If you make wonderful wheat based dog treats, use these promotion points if you are challenged about the healthiness of your treats:

  • You know your customers’ names, and their dogs’ names as well. You are not going to offer unhealthy products to those you know! (That would be business suicide.)
  • You most likely bake in your own kitchen, or in one where you oversee the entire baking process. You know exactly what ingredients go into your treats. You know that the ingredients are fresh, human quality, and REAL FOOD.
  • Your pricing is attractive.
  • Most importantly, you give your treats to your own dog! (If you take your dog to markets, just make sure he looks healthy and well-kept.)
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to taste one of your own dog treats right in front of the customer. You do use human grade ingredients that are real food, right?

You will not please everyone, and your treats are not right for every dog either. That’s why there are choices. Share your passion for your product with your customers and always give great customer service – customers won’t get these from a large enterprise.

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 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies made in the USA and the award-winning         Fido’s Frosting, the first all-natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that        does not melt!

marketing dog treats

Dog Treat Business Farmers Market Tips

A farmers market is a great place to gain exposure for your dog treat business. Figuring out what to bring with you is often stressful. Read these tips from an experienced farmers market vendor to help you get started and enjoy the experience!

Cristina Egnew from Cristina’s Dog Treats, a dog treat business based in Tillamook, Oregon, offers this advice to those doing an event for the first time. “In most cases everything about the first event can be stressful,” she says. “You will probably be asking yourself the following questions: How much product do I take, what do I need, do I have enough change, what if I don’t sell anything, what have I gotten myself into?”

A farmers market veteran, she shares what she does to help you reduce the frustration and ease the process.

1) How much product? Cristina says, “I have a simple rule when it comes to selling my dog treats at farmers markets. Take a minimum of $100 of each product.”

“For example, I would take at least twenty-five (25) 4 oz bags:  four bags of four different flavors and five variety packs. This rule has saved me many headaches. As you attend more markets, you will get a better idea of what your customers want and you will adjust your product quantities.”

2. What else to bring besides product? “This does depend a little on the venue but not too much. I like my stuff organized so I have a supply tote with basic supplies.”

Basic supplies. These include the following – in Cristina’s words:

  • Tablecloths. Take at least one extra because you never know when you’ll need it. Things happen like a dog urinates on the cloth or the table is large and you need two cloths to cover it. You can even use the tablecloths as a backdrop in your space or stall.
  • First-aid kit.  Things happen. I keep mine stocked with the basic supplies plus I have added hand warmers, aspirin, and anti-itch spray.
  • Miscellaneous bag. This contains tape, a white board, board pens and pen cleaner, note cards, two ball point pens, scissors, string, safety pins, and other items that make it easy to display and label. 
  • Paper towels, dry rag and wet wipes. If you have ever been slimed by a Newfie, you understand! It rains a lot here in Oregon, so I have to be prepared to dry off my tables, totes, and display items when they get wet. 
  • Bungie cords.  Not only will they keep your totes closed, but you can use them to anchor your sign. 
  • Sign Folder. I put my signs listing flavors and prices into a folder that I keep in my supply tote. This ensures that I don’t forget it or misplace my signs. 
  • Extras. I live on the Oregon coast where the outside temperature gets cold so I have a throw, gloves, extra pair of socks , hair brush and ear-warmers in the supply tote as well.
  • For indoor venues. An extension cord and surge bar comes in handy.
  • Banners and business cards. I keep these with my basic supplies so I never forget them.
  • dog treat businessDisplay table set-up at a farmers market.

Other useful items:

  • Display items. I keep all my display items together. Any small pieces are in a bag attached to the larger piece they go with. I like display items that collapse or can be stacked on each other. 
  • Tables. In most cases you can get away with one table. If I find I need more room I’ll stack totes and cover them with my second table cloth. 
  • Chair. I always take my own chair. Personally, I prefer the artist chairs because they’re easier to get in and out of and place you higher. 
  • Canopy and weights.  There are several different brands available but I like the Caravan Canopy (click to see product.) Why? It is one of the few brands that you can actually set up by yourself without a problem and I have found they withstand the wind better then other tents. I have had the same one for 10 years now and it has held up through high winds.
  • Food and drinks. You will be there a long time so make sure you have nourishment.
  • Supplies for the dog. If you plan to take your pet, make sure you have everything you need to keep him/her comfortable. I bring a dog bowl and water for the public.
  • Side curtains.  These are great to have especially if it’s raining or windy, or for some privacy for your space. I have a neighboring vendor who never stops talking so my side curtain goes up. :)

More considerations:

  • How much change to bring? My cash box starts with $100. How you price your products will dictate the type of change you will need. Personally, I like even prices – it just makes my life easier. For example: If you are selling dog treats 3 for $1, you will want to have some pennies because there will be customers who only want to buy one which comes out to 33 cents. My prices are in 25 cent intervals which makes it easy to quickly add totals in your head. So my till looks like this: $10 in quarters, $20 in tens, $25 in ones, and $45 in fives. You can always adjust or take extra but make sure to mark it so you remember what you started with after a long day.
  • Set up and tear down.  I see more vendors freak out about this over anything else. The more you do it the easier it gets but here’s a trick: practice a few times at home including loading and unloading. By going through the motions ahead of time, you can figure out how to best set up your display. Take photos or draw a diagram so you know what to do and save time. Once you decide how you will set up, I highly recommend this next exercise: load your vehicle with all your stuff, get in, then time yourself getting out and setting it all up.  Why? Now you will know how much time you need to get ready and how early you need to arrive at the event. Always add 15 minutes to the time especially at a farmers market because there could be a traffic jam caused by other vendors dropping things off. After tear down, make sure to pack your supplies correctly. You will save time later and be ready to go for the next event. I watch so many vendors just throw their things in totes that have to be repacked. It makes it easier to find items as well.  
  • Work on a craft project. I make cat toys and dog toys, so I bring my supplies. People will come over just to see what I’m working on! 
  • Load the night before. Then you can sleep in a bit longer the morning of the event!           

We thank Cristina for these words of wisdom. She regularly exhibits at farmers markets, so her advice comes from a lot of experience. Please visit Cristina’s Dog Treats to learn more about her business and find out where she will be exhibiting next!

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Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies and the award-winning Fido’s Frosting, the all natural yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that does not melt!

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