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Summer is coming, which can only mean one thing: outdoor adventures with your favorite four-legged friend! To kick off the season, we sat down with Jason Watson, the owner and creator of Dublin Dog, to discuss the ins and outs of choosing the right gear for your adventure-loving pooch. Check out the interview below!
When did you start Dublin Dog and what’s the story behind the name of the company?
I unofficially started the company in the middle of 2006, and launched officially on July, 07, 2007 (7/7/07 at 7:07 AM). The name was a derivative of our first name concept which was Lucky Dog Company. After much deliberation, I started to see too many lucky dog this and that… Since my grandparents were first generation Americans from Ireland, I really wanted to promote that feeling of being a lucky dog. So, with Ireland being one of my favorite places, I went with Dublin Dog. This allowed us to use our logo, as well as the tagline “You should be so lucky” which was the essence of the feeling that we often treat our dogs better than friends and family sometimes.
Is there a Dublin Dog mascot?
The logo of the dog’s head is actually modeled after my lab, “Jake”, who we rescued from Animal Care and Control in 2005.
The sun has started to shine and that means most dog owners will be spending more time outdoors with their pets, which means dirt, grass, mud and even water. What is the biggest problem that dog owners face with collars and outdoor activities?
Most dog’s really enjoy the summer as much as we do, but for different reasons. Summer allows us owners more time on the trails, outdoors, and often near water. For dogs, this is a smorgasbord of odors and scent for them to explore. Often this means stinky, nasty, and funky smells, which can include all sorts of unmentionables. With that being said, many collars act as a sponge for these microbial tidbits of outdoor fun, and trap them in the woven fibers and then trap them against the dog’s neck. This can lead to foul odors, but it can also lead to hot spots by having these damp, dirty materials pressed against the dog’s neck and coat. Using a non-porous collar will help the water bead up, and simply drip off and away from the dog’s neck. Better yet, they allow for quick clean up with some warm soap and water. So, less time in the laundry room means more time outdoors enjoying the sun.
What kind of collars do you recommend for outdoor activities?
When thinking about what types of collars make sense for outdoor activities, I would think about what type of watch you would wear for similar outdoor activities. Start by asking yourself what the activity will include, i.e. water, abrasion or impact potential, and UV exposure. For me, I have found that watches like an Ironman or Suunto allow me to tackle just about any environment without worrying too much about how the item will hold up. I believe the same is true with our dog collars. Inherently, if you own a sporting breed, or medium to large breed that enjoys strenuous play or activity, then durability must be a consideration. Wearing a “blinged” out collar with crystals probably wouldn’t be the best choice for the mountains or trail. Another consideration would be the type of clasp you prefer. There are pros and cons to both a side-release collar as well as a traditional buckled collar. If you have concerns about snag hazard and choking, then perhaps a side-release is your best option. If you get concerned about accidental opening, then a traditional buckle will help mitigate those fears. So know the activity and know your desired results of the product.
What was the impetus for designing the No-Stink collar?
Having grown up in Hawaii, I spent a lot of time in the water and around the red clay that is so pervasive in the pineapple fields on Maui. As such, I often found myself wearing an Ironman watch for all my outdoor activities. Now fast forward 17 or so years and I found myself driving back from a series of sales meetings out of town. As I was making my return trip to Charlotte, I was thinking about the weekend to come, and taking my dogs and wife on a hiking trip to the mountains. That made me think about getting a new waterproof collar so they wouldn’t smell like summer’s past. It was just then that I literally looked down at my left hand on the steering wheel, and there on my wrist was another Ironman watch with a polymer based watch band. That was it, I needed to find a nonporous collar just like my watch band. When I found it difficult to find such a material in the open market, I started to experiment with making one of my own. This was the catalyst that started it all.
What’s your bestseller and why do you think that’s so?
There are several products that come to mind. The All Style, No Stink product has had many winners, one of the first being the Kaleidoscope and now the Babylon does very well. The reason for these is the fact that all the designs incorporate a very unique design, as well as various textures and layers. What many folks don’t realize is the fact that we hand pour our polymer layers, so every shadow, every detail is done by hand. The other best seller that we are currently experiencing is with our new KOA series of collars. The Trout Collection is a life-like series of rainbow, brown, and brook trout fish patterns. These have done great with outdoor enthusiasts and look amazing on the dog. They’re fresh, new, and just different enough to catch the eye of both male and female buyers.
Can you share any tips on buying the right dog collar?
Collars are a little bit like shoes. When considering what shoe you want to wear, you look at several factors including: venue, aesthetics, performance, and comfort. I think these same aspects absolutely translate into a collar choice. Where is your dog primarily going to be using the collar? Is this a “one and done” type purchase meaning you put it on your dog and leave it there until it grows legs? Or is this a statement type collar that is being used as a fashion statement or for a holiday (like 4th of July)? Also, what’s the venue? A day at the beach, trail, or stream? Perhaps you have an urban dog that likes to chill at home and keep things near the hood. In that case, the materials and options you choose can open themselves up quite a bit. Finally, your dog can’t tell you when they are having a wardrobe malfunction in the area of comfort. If the collar is too tight, or perhaps your dog has allergies to certain types of materials, you need to be the steward of their overall comfort. Be sure to inspect all wearables on your dog to ensure they’re in good shape, as well as being safe.
How often should you replace your dog’s collar? When do you know it’s time to toss it?
I typically think that about every two years is a good rule of thumb. If you’re using a polymer based product, then it’s going to be susceptible to UV damage, salt and fresh water, and just general wear and tear. Having said that, we’ve had tons of customers who love to tout and share their 4 and 5 year old collars, which is awesome, however I would expect that 2-3 years is a good time to do a full inspection simply to ensure there are no cracks, torn seams, or oxidation on your collars, regardless of whom they’re manufactured by. We also have more seasonal options in our EcoLucks collection so you can switch things up for summer, the holidays, St. Paddy’s Day and more which is always fun for you and your dog. Note, not all products are produced in the same fashion, and while a piece of hardware may appear the same, be sure to check if it’s a non-corrosive metal and not just a pretty plated steel. Over time, this type of hardware could pose a safety risk, especially as it pertains to a D-ring or buckle.
The KOA collars are so much fun! They remind me of colorful fish tackle. What was the design inspiration behind this collection?
Nature is the inspiration. We took a painstaking amount of time and consideration to ensure we were as true as possible to their namesakes. So the Brown, Brook, and Rainbow trout were all custom designed and we reviewed countless real fish photos in different light to ensure we did them justice. Our most recent Saltwater series includes the Red Snapper, the Blue Marlin, as well as the Mahi Mahi. So fresh water or salt, we have you and your dog covered.
Do you have any questions for Jason? Leave your thoughts and comments below!