Dogs are Den Animals
We’ve found that dogs need their own “space” to not only feel comfortable, but to escape when they feel anxious. Whether it be behind the couch or under our bed, they always looked for a small enclosed space to retreat to. We had also crate trained them when they were young. Even after training was done, they still liked to sleep in the crate. But a wireframe or plastic crate just didn’t look good in the living room. I noticed that my dogs would rather sleep inside a storage box that I had turned on its side than their store bought bed that was out in the open.
Why an Indoor Dog House?
Humans need a roof over their heads to feel safe, and be protected from the environment. And our homes are essentially the dogs environment. So it would follow that a dog needs a roof to feel safe too. Sleeping in an open bed for a dog, I think, is like a human sleeping outside on a cot. It’s nice sometimes, but not always.
The product concept was pretty simple. Create an indoor dog house that I would want in my home. (and one that my two dogs, Enzo and Franklin would actually use.) But it had to be something different. Since dogs only need to crate train while they are young, I thought the house did not need to be confining.
Playing off of the idea of a folding storage box, I used 3D Cad programs and some cardboard prototypes to create a working model. The product was tested using different materials, but the overall shape and functionality was based on the original concept.
First, I wanted it to look great. I carefully chose the dark chocolate brown (faux) leather with a contrast lighter stitch color. I did not want dog paws or bones printed anywhere on the product. I wanted the product to blend in with my home decor. I didn’t really want it to “stand out” as a dog house. I thought it should be subtle.
Second, I wanted it to be sturdy and easy to maintain. Furniture quality MDF, or Medium Density Fiberboard, was chosen because it is lightweight, sturdy and economical. Polyurethane faux leather was chosen for the exterior because it was easy to clean and would last.
It also had to store and travel easily. The design allows for the den and mattress to actually fit inside the roof when it is unassembled (flat). And all of the parts fit into a carry case. It folds down or assembles without any tools. It only takes a few seconds. There are no fasteners that can get lost. There are only four parts that fit together for assembly.
The fun part of the design was the attic storage. I’ve always loved product utility. Having dogs, I know that toys and leashes often get cluttered or misplaced. The attic was a great way to combine a dwelling and storage all in one.
Memory Foam Mattress
The mattress when through many revisions. The memory foam mattress was chosen as a winner. It isn’t bulky, it’s really cozy, and holds up very well. The new 2014 memory foam mattress has an improved dual winter/summer sided pillow case. One side it sherpa fleece and the other side is soft cotton canvas. It is much durable than the original terry cloth pillow case and has a new zipper closure. It is washable.
The Pet Haven has been well received and proved to be a viable and successful product. Of my first inventory order, the product has sold out. Sales were slow at first, but things picked up as the product became recognized as a quality and useful item. These sales were primarily on-line and small boutique sales without an advertising budget. Blogs and industry reviews drove the product sales.
The product was available on sites such as Doghouses.com, Hammacher Schlemmer and Fab.com. It was also highlighted on HGTV – DiY channel television show, “I Want That”, a program that highlights unique products.
In 2011, I exhibited at two large pet trade shows, SuperZoo and HH Backer. The product had interest from not only small boutique stores and international vendors, but larger housewares and big box stores in the U.S. and Canada, including Costco and HomeGoods. Strategically, I chose not to pursue the larger stores too soon due to timing, exposure and brand direction.