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Retailer Wishlist

What Retailers Want and Need in Pet Beds, Crates and Carriers

We asked members of the PETS+ Brain Squad to share what they’d like to see from manufacturers in these product categories.




For this digital-extra Retailer Wishlist, we asked members of the PETS+ Brain Squad, “What do you want and need from manufacturers of beds, crates and carriers in terms of new products? Support? Innovation?” Here’s what they had to say:

  • More waterproof beds. I’m loving Tall Tails’ new beds and can’t wait for the matching waterproof blankets to become available.   —  Nancy Guinn, Dog Krazy, VA
  • It would be nice to find something that is practical, fits the need and allows indie retailers to still be competitive with large club stores or online retailers. It seems that many of the brands are all about high-end beds, and that’s not what customers want.   —  Richie Powell, All American Pet, Springfield, OR 
  • More waterproof bed options.   —  Heather Leonard, The Well Balanced Paw, Staunton, VA
  • Beds or crates and carriers must be totally and easily washable. Easy-open doors (for the arthritic human) would be nice.   —  Liz Harris, Creatures Featured, Madison, FL
  • The biggest need/support is fabric swatches since we haven’t attended SuperZoo or Global in a few years. It’s hard to see what the new fabrics look like via email or their website. Beds are definitely a touch and feel product for us. We don’t carry crates and have discontinued carriers for the most part due to online competition.   —  Sheila Spitza, Wet Nose, Geneva, IL
  • Affordable beds, sturdy real “bite-proof” beds. Crates designed for senior small pets, cats and dogs.   —  Christine Dixon, Wiggle and Walks Pet Care, Charlotte, NC
  • Would love to see metal crates in colors that fit in better with home decor.   —  Susannna Furlone, The Wishbone Pet Company, Freedom, CA
  • I would like to see more unique colors and styles in beds.   —  Agnes Weiting, Perfect Pet Gift Shop & Bakery, Appleton, WI
  • Like everything else, price is a major concern. Seems like they are either cheap and look it or expensive and look it. Maybe something a bit more in between.   —  Laurie McClearen, Cohutta Country Store, Blue Ridge, GA
  • Innovation and better selections. More U.S.-made beds.   —  Doug Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • Something that’s more compact! Beds, crates and carriers are so hard to merchandise and find space for because they’re so bulky and are sometimes in boxes that don’t present them well. If beds could be vacuum sealed to save space, we could fit a lot more in our store.   —  Danny Offenbacher, City of Paws Petcare, Philadelphia, PA
  • Better pricing. We can’t compete with Costco, Sam’s Club and now regular grocery stores for bedding. I get quality, but a lot of people don’t care as much for quality as they do for money.  Especially if they have a dog prone to chewing up or soiling, so they end up going through them anyway.   —  Kimberly Gatto, The Wagging Tail, Las Vegas, NV 
  • Crash-tested crates and carriers.   —  Heather Campbell, Bow Wow & Woofs, Blaine, WA
  • A return to a well-made plastic crate would be great. The plastic keeps getting cheaper and flimsier, and the cost keeps going up. We have crates from the ’90s that are still solid, and we have new crates that your average house cat can destroy.   —  Melisa Wynn, Paws & Fins Pet Shop, Bainbridge Island, WA
  • We need beds and crates with price points that compare to Walmart or T.J. Maxx. We do not sell crates for this reason and very minimal dog beds.   —  Kendra Martin, Woof & Whiskers, Omaha, NE 
  • Display ideas.   —  Stephanie Rossino, GiggyBites Bakery & Market Place, Chadds Ford, PA
  • I would love it if they would bring back the blue and pink crates (puppy crates). We used to be able to get them from Midwest, but I haven’t seen them in a long time. I like to build a puppy and kitten display with them for spring.   —  Kristen   —   Watson, The Hipster Hound, Savannah, GA
  • I used to be able to get dump bins of inexpensive pillow beds. Those always sold really well, but I have not been able to find them for the last couple of years.   —  Kat Forry, A1 Pet Emporium, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Better pricing, and stop selling your items at or below wholesale online.   —  Jennifer Marshall, Northwoods Pets LLC, Rhinelander, WI
  • U.S.-made, non-toxic materials for a reasonable price, but given the way the world is now, maybe that’s just a dream that will never be reality. Would be nice to see a foldable crate, not made out of metal/doesn’t rust.   —  Krysta Fox, Bruce & Willy’s Natural Pet Source, Geneva, IL 
  • Compact, lightweight and durable crates that can be broken down and set up easily as well as ways to display them without taking up huge amounts of floor space.   —  Julie Johannes, Powder Hounds Pet Supply, Bigfork, MT
  • Better reasonings why the products they sell to us are so much more expensive than what customers can buy at Walmart or even PetSmart. What are the benefits for the pet? What makes them superior?   —  Scott Tripp, Wagabōnz, Galveston, TX
  • Truly waterproof bed covers. So that outdoor and other fluid do not go into the inside foam.   —  Amber Van Denzen Suarez, Atta Boy! Animal Care Pet Sitting + Dog Walking, Mulberry, FL
  • A bed that isn’t in the mass market (T.J. Maxx, Home Goods, etc.). It’s impossible to compete with that market and space. The crates are impossible to compete with if you’re not buying containers from China, so we only stock two sizes now. It would be nice to see in the crate department more affordable, wood furniture-style, U.S.-made crates that aren’t online only.   —  Terri Nichols, City Dog Market, Atlanta, GA
  • Support, more of a commitment to indies and more POP materials.   —  Sue Fitzgerald, The Scottish Dog Pet Supplies, Metuchen, NJ
  • Quality construction/materials but in a design and selection that would allow them to drop prices to wherever that sweet spot is so independents can compete with Chewy, etc. Enforce MAP please… always a battle. Independent-only line.   —  Kathy Palmer, The Fish & Bone, Portland, ME
  • Indestructible beds.   —  Molly Taylor, Molly’s Mutt House, Houston, TX
  • Better selection of quality beds. The quality has gone way down in recent years. I feel like we are selling Dollar Store beds! I am happy with the quality and selection of crates and carriers… just looking forward to being able to get them in more regularly some time soon!   —  Holly Elassaad, Pet Nation, Navarre, FL 
  • On the rare occasion we do use crates on boarding, they often crack or get filthy. It would be nice to have crates supplied with an extra bottom, an even more durable one, and some that are even easier to clean.   —  Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT
  • Drop-shipping. My store is small. Also cuter fabrics.   —  Mary Kenkel, Whole Dogz, Alexandria, VA
  • It is impossible to find decent quality beds with a good price point. Where I am, $25 seems to be the magic number people are willing to spend. I find myself buying beds from Marshalls or JC Penney in order to accommodate this. I do sell other higher-priced beds, but not frequently.   —  Margo Tortorelis, My Natural Pet, Brooklyn, NY
  • I would love to see a collapsible, secure carrier. Does that exist?   —  Maria Cetrola, Buddy’s Pet Stop, Barnegat, NJ
  • For beds, easily washable carriers, ways to display, signage that would have pictures and sizes, even a small one to show so it doesn’t take up space. The biggest issue is that setting up takes up a lot of space, and most of us do not have the space to give up.   —  Jodi Theis, Paws Inn Pet Essentials, Waconia, MN
  • Memory foam, cooling or new designs that can’t be found in cheaper beds sold at T.J. Maxx.   —  Colleen O’Fallon, Sweet Paws Bakery, Gainesville, FL
  • Crash-tested dog crates. Crates that are specifically made for car travel, that can fit on back seats and in hatches. This is such a niche market, and none of the makers offer wholesale options. As a passionate advocate for car safety for dogs, I would sell the bejeezus out of car crates if I could stock them.   —  Katherine Ostiguy, Crossbones, Providence, RI
  • For bedding, we’re constantly looking for reasonably priced beds that won’t fall apart with one wash. Durability is another bed trait we need.   —  Stephanie Wright, Bend Pet Express, Bend, OR
  • Support! It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find quality hard goods that aren’t sold at Costco or Chewy.   —  Rebecca Martino, Stately Pet Supply, Clarks Summit, PA
  • We love crates with a nice sturdy tray in the bottom. We steer clear from ones that are flimsier. It’s a must to be able to fold it down, not only for the ease of getting it home and customers being able to travel with it, but also so we can store them easily in our store.   —  Nicole Olesen, Woofs & Waves, Sioux Falls, SD
  • No chemically treated materials.   —  Janet Cesarini, Pupology, Georgetown,TX
  • Something we have had requests for that I have not been able to source are crate anchor straps for the back of an SUV. They may be available but I have yet to find them.   —  Laura   —  Backus, Purrrfect Bark, Columbus, NC
  • We don’t sell a lot of hard goods. We only sell beds. I’d like to see beds with memory foam or orthopedic beds that are not super-duper expensive.   —  Dorothy Vetrovec, Nature’s Feed, Spring Grove, IL 
  • I love pet beds with memory foam support and eco-friendly components that are under $150 MSRP for 36″ to 42″ sizes.   —  Victoria Park, Park Pet Supply, Atlanta, GA
  • Right now just keeping them in stock is a pain, so we’d honestly be really happy for the supply chain to kick back up! Other than that, there is tons of room for innovation as far as beds go. I would love to see more recycled materials being used instead of polyester filling/fabric as we are becoming more aware of microplastics. As far as support goes, “sample crates” for display from manufacturers for size reference would be helpful, even if made from cardboard.   —  Jennifer Flanagan, Nature’s Pet Market Sherwood, Sherwood, OR
  • U.S.-made is first on my list. Next would be more memory foam beds. A nice quality bed at a good price point.   —  Diane Marcin, Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • Support: I want to be able to sell crates (hard and soft, rolling or fixed) and X-pens at prices competitive to online — it seems as though all too often this is a category where pricing online is so low we can’t compete on any sort of even ground. I’d love to see more beds that are affordable, indie only and fully washable (without getting lumpy cushions), but that still have a quality feel to them.   —  Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I could definitely use more tough/indestructible toys for large-breed dogs. It’s one category I can’t seem to find a lot of options for.   —  Beth Kidd, Dogs By Design, Irwin, PA
  • A friend showed me her crate pads that were made from something like the rope used for lobster traps? I think they were made in Canada and very heavy duty. I’d be interested in something like that for dogs that chew their crate pads. Maybe they can make beds from that material, too.   —  Theresa Moreno, For Healthy Pets, Montgomery, AL
  • I want U.S.-made organic beds that aren’t stupidly overpriced.   —  Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • Personally I am always looking for beds that will fit perfectly in the back seat of my truck, that are nice and soft, but yet firm and durable to hold up to my girls jumping in and out of the truck all the time. That and the cover easily comes off to wash.   —  Elaina Stanley, Three Happy Hounds, Fernley, NV
  • Better ways to display them.   —  George Beebe, Pawki’s, Eastsound, WA
  • Beds are tricky as they’re available in so many outlets like COSTCO and Homegoods. Tall Tails beds do very well as do crate mats from P.L.A.Y. and West Paw. We’re testing out some memory foam beds. We really try to hit the sweet spot of price point and quality. Ordering by the unit and from a distributor helps to keep our shipping costs lower.   —  Jeff Jensen, Four Muddy Paws LLC, St. Louis, MO
  • 100% U.S.-sourced and -made. Natural (lower VOCs), easy to clean and maintain, comfy, varied price points, especially for bigger dogs.   —  Pamela Modica, Lazy Creek Pet Food Center, Lexington, SC
  • MAP pricing? Many, if not all, big box and e-retailers use crates and beds as loss leaders, which is hard on indies that can’t afford to have loss leaders. In terms of new products, more bolster beds for big dogs! It seems like the only decent big dog beds with a bolster I’ve been able to find are the ones made by Lazy Boy, which are great, but it would be nice to have some more variety and price points. Not all big dogs like pillow beds. More durable beds would be nice to see as well. We used to sell Carhartt beds like gangbusters until we couldn’t get them anymore. They were some of the most durable beds we could find, and we always had positive feedback from our customers about them.   —  Cassie   —  Nilsson, The Mill Stores, Whiteford, MD
  • We need U.S.-sourced dog crates. More small animal carriers and nice ones for birds.   —  Stephanie Steelman, Wings Wags and Whiskers, Amarillo, TX
  • I would love to see more reasonably priced travel crates! I wish someone could figure out how to make a “foldable” plastic crate.   —  Penny Murano, Unleashed, New London, NH
  • As always, looking for something new and exciting!! Tougher beds are always appreciated, but with cute patterns, as opposed to the plain, hard-looking material we see most often.   —  Julie Sterling, Julz Animal Houz, Marysville, WA
  • Stop making super flimsy soft carriers for cats. Owners like them because they are “cute” or because they flatten for storage, but as a boarding facility, they are awful. Try getting an uncooperative cat into one of those tent-like ones with a zipper the whole way around that folds flat.   —  Myra Tsung, Camp Kitty, Decatur, GA
  • Products that are indestructible, affordable, suitable for bully breeds.   —  Trace Menchaca, Modern Pet Foods, Houston, TX
  • An affordable, independent-only line so we don’t have to compete with online and box stores.   —  Keith Henline, Ashville Pet Supply, Ashville, NC
  • For us, these types of items take up a ton of space, and we don’t move stock quickly enough to even warrant having them in the store. Big box, discount stores, and online warehouses can always beat us on price too. If manufacturers want me to stock their stuff, here is what they need to do: Help me find ways to display them that won’t take up a ton of space, and give us products that you can’t find just about anywhere for less.   —  Jodi Etienne, Razzle Dazzle Doggie Bowtique, Bradley, IL
  • Crate mats that are very hard to destroy but offer a comfortable experience for the pet.   —  Crisi Fetters, Local Pet LLC, Victoria, TX
  • Some warranties like some of the toy companies have; better options for outdoor beds.   —  Adina   —  Silberstein, Queenies Pets, Philadelphia,  PA
  • Carriers. Specifically side and front carriers. We have an increasing number of customers asking for these specific types of carriers.   —  Heather Persinger, Aristopets, Lewisville, NC
  • Inventory!   —  Gregg DePhillips, J-B Pet Supplies, Oakland, NJ
  • Lighter but still stable and safe crates that can be easily moved, set up and broken down.   —  Lisa Kirschner, Sit, Stay, ‘N Play, Inc., Stroudsburg, PA
  • Would love to have heavy-duty grooming crates available through wholesale distributors.   —  Paul Lewis, The Green K9 , Mount Dora, FL
  • It just makes sense that when an older dog needs hip and joint support from a bed, that the fabric is waterproof in case they are beginning to be incontinent or “can’t hold it” and get up fast because their joints won’t allow getting up quickly.   —  Patricia Boden, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA
  • Just product! So many things are out of stock in that category.   —  Rachel McGinnis, Leo & Lucky’s, Parrish, FL
  • Our customers are looking for quality beds that are washable and functional,  but modern prints are also important.    —  Barb Morris, Treats On A Leash, Ames, IA
  • More beds that are all cotton for allergic dogs.   —  Jodi Miranda, Paw’d Pet Supplies, Coral Springs, FL
  • Basic, flat mats that are affordable! We use them in classes to teach “go to mat” for puppies.   —  Sandy House, Paws N Effect, Hamden, CT
  • Everyone looks for machine washable in the beds. Of course they want a great product at a great price point.   —  Helen Bennett, The Grooming Place Pet Shop, Chester, MD
  • For beds, we need more durable beds that can really hold up to dogs digging at them or even chew resistant. We’ve struggled to get crates in stock for a year now so we’re not looking for new, just available products!   —  Joanna Shaw, All Pet & Equine Supply,  Mountain Home, AR
  • We would love to see more beds that are specific to pets with joint issues. We have a tri-paw, and sometimes he struggles to get comfy on one of his beds. We would also love to see more quirky beds: pirate ship, boho chic, etc.   —  Diedre Giles, Reeses Barkery and Pawtique, McHenry, IL
  • I would like more actual orthopedic options for beds. I have four senior pups and do my best to find them comfortable, supportive beds. Same with supportive backpacks so I can wear them out and about.   —  Carra Smith, Dog Days Barkery,  Mobile, AL
  • We are in real need of a thin training and crate mat that can be easily washed and rolled for transport.   —  Dani Edgerton, Paws on Main, Columbiana, OH
  • Support is always a great thing. A crash-tested carrier, with stats, etc. would be awesome.   —  Ruth Sturgis, Dog Daze, North Syracuse NY
  • Shipping. I ordered from Furhaven for years. My last order was $150, and shipping was over $200. They had the best selection I could find. Worldwise owns them now, so things may change. Talked to them at Global and they weren’t sure what their plans were, but they have 200 of my best selling beds sitting in a warehouse!   —  Keri Torgerson,  Mac’s Pet Depot Barkery, Milwaukee, WI
  • We would like to be able to show customers color swatches of beds so they are able to coordinate with interior colors, more moderately priced durable and quality beds. Also, I would like to see more moderately priced carriers that are unique and functional. Our local economy does not afford the majority of our customers to be able to purchase high end/luxury carriers (i.e., Petote, etc.) but would be willing to purchase carriers similar but less expensive.   —  Annette Jones, Paws & Purrs Barkery & Boutique, Rutherfordton, NC
  • I would like more options for XL dogs and arthritic dogs.  —  Shawn Kombogiannis, Pet Wants, Lakeway, TX
  • What would make me the happiest is if we could get the wholesale price point from the manufacturer to be low enough that I can compete with the big-box stores. Second on the list would be covers and inserts that are both washable without losing their shape or firmness.   —  Michele Saharic, Barkley’s Marketplace, Flemington, NJ
  • We would really love to have more affordable options for beds in all sizes. In particular, an MSRP price point of $100 or less is very popular in our stores, and we have a hard time catching sales or finding distributors that have those offerings.   —  Janet Huffor, Furry Friends Inc,   —  Colorado Springs, CO
  • It’s been hard to order beds during and after Covid without having as many reps visit. We have been able to figure out the best options that work for our stores and customers based on what we have ordered and had success with in the past. Samples of fabrics are always helpful but in this day and time, people want the bed now they don’t really want to order it, so for us to have a large selection works best for us.   —  April Wright, The Dog and Cat, Essex, Jct & Stowe, VT
  • Supportive beds would be great. I love the shaggy donut beds, but none I have found have a supportive center.  —   Comora Tolliver, Hendersonville, NC
  • I’d love to see a sturdy crate that was lightweight and easy to set up, but that is not nylon. A crate that is easy for guests to bring to class each week.   —  Lisa Kirschner, Sit, Stay, ‘N Play, Stroudsburg, PA
  • Literature is always helpful or a link to a website that does not include info on how to buy direct.   —  Susan Nagel-Rees, Winky’s Pet Boutique, Chester, NJ

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