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industrial designer

anne mayoral

an ecofriendly instinctive dog toy

bone-a-fide dog toy project book

an ecofriendly instinctive dog toy

bone-a-fide dog toy project book

problem statement

problem statement: to design a dog toy that appeals to dogs on an instinctual level — a toy that engages their natural canine behavior patterns regardless of breed, age, or size. designing a dog toy relies heavily on observing & correctly analyzing dogs. dogs cannot verbalize their likes and dislikes of current toys, making it difficult to get direction and feedback. for this reason, it is important to get inside the mind of


dogs in order to understand how they view toys and what makes one more appealing than another. it is also important to recognize that the toy must also cater to the needs of their humans. like any product, it must incite an emotional response at first sight. this project researches and explores the world of dogs in order to design the ultimate dog toy.



understanding the target market dog toys pose a unique design challenge. they must appeal to and satisfy the needs of both the dog and their humans.

because dogs rely on their humans to purchase toys, the design must cater to humans and dogs alike. dog people are a unique breed; the goal is to understand them on a deep level. this research shows who they are, what they value and how they think. it reveals their motivations, shopping habits, and things they consider when it comes to their dogs.

and then there is the dog. while all dogs are unique, each with their own personality, quirks, and issues, they all exhibit general canine behavior. i identify instinctual traits and play patterns that exist amongst dog packs. i review toys in terms of play patterns and their ability to mimic natural jobs and teach socialization.


are adventurous


dog people active friendly

on any given weekend, dog people can be found outdoors. maybe it’s an excursion to a nearby trail or waterhole. perhaps just a leisurely stroll through the local farmers market. rest assured, their fourlegged companion is not far away. dog people tend to gravitate toward each other as if drawn by an inner force. they run in similar circles, have shared interests, and hold


common values. this is because for dog people (unlike dog “owners�) having a dog is a way of life, much like having kids. this way of life is open and friendly, passionate and adventurous. dog people have an innate curiosity and zest for life. like their furry friends, they live by their senses. having a dog enriches their lives through a deep understanding and love.

dog people put a lot of thought and energy into ensuring that their dog has a good life. from selecting the proper food to choosing a stylish collar, they make a million decisions for their four-legged friends. figuring out which dog toy to buy means weighing their own motives with what they think their dog might

like. when surveyed, customers said they buy dog toys (1) to play with and entertain their dog, (2) to provide stimulation and exercise, and (3) to distract and prevent distruction.

any good parent, they must also consider practical matters — cost, safety, durability and longevity. there is also an X factor — does the toy appeal to them as well?

in addition, they consider their dog’s likes and dislikes, interests and play patterns. they might even let the dog choose for themselves. but like

because getting the best for their pup is a priority, dog people shop at local pet boutiques and high-end pet retail stores.


affordability motivation to buy toy dog’s likes

play / entertain exercise prevent distruction

durability optimal toy motives for buying toys

decision wheel

practical concerns

longevity 6



the ‘dog,’ or canis lupus familiaris, is the most common working and companion animal. decendants of the gray wolf, dogs have been bred to hunt, chase, kill, and eat. like their wolf ancestors, domesticated dogs are pack animals with a sophisticated social hierarchy. they exhibit an intricate set of behaviors and postures that



convey each dog’s position in the pack and use non-verbal cues to communicate their state of mind.

to better suit the needs of humans. these specialized dogs are how we define the various breeds.

their ability to understand complicated social hierachy and forms of communication may account for their ability to be trained and function amongst humans. over time, dogs were selectively bred to enhance certain behavior patterns

still, dogs are dogs... and all dogs display seven inherited predatory behaviors, whether purebred or mixed. these behaviors are to orient, eye, stalk, chase, grab, kill, and dissect. toys mimic these behaviors to create play patterns.






are pack animals

have instincts


are predators

exhibit breed-specific behaviors


american kennel club (akc) recognizes 160 different breeds of dogs, each exhibiting a unique appearance, demeanor, and set of characteristics. similar breeds are organized into eight groups, categorized by the dog’s genetic attributes to perform a specific job or function.



hunting, running down quarry

hunting and field activities



versatile, multi-functional

hunting & killing vermin

herding controlling movement of animals


working guarding property, pulling sleds, water rescue

toy embodying sheer delight

all dogs experience the world with their nose, eye, and ear (in that order). sensory experiences can trigger their natural predatory behaviors. designing a toy for dogs means appealing to dogs at the sensory level ­— olfactory, visual, and aural.

sensory triggers scent (nose)


motion/shape (eyes)

predatory behaviors sound (ears)

orient eye stalk chase grab kill dissect


assessing the toy competition there are a million dog toys on the market today. studying the competition from the dog’s perspective can reveal a possible product niche.

of the seven predatory behaviors, only four — chase, grab, kill, and dissect — can be simulated with a toy. these describe situations when a dog is physically interacting with prey and can be imitated by various play patterns. dog toys can be grouped in six categories — ball, fetch, tug, chew, plush/squeak, and treat. as the


name suggests, ball toys are balls that are designed specifically for dogs and stimulate the dog to chase. fetch toys simulate the dog’s natural drive to chase and grab prey. tug toys mimic the grab-bite instinct and struggle for dominance. chew toys provide a means for dogs to orally relieve stress and release energy. plush/squeak toys are soft, resemble prey, and contain squeakers that

mimic prey sounds. treat toys teach focus and reward the dog when completing a task. each category consists of toys that promote a specific style of play. because a single toy can used in various ways, they can exist in one or more category. for simplicity, toys have been categorized according to their dominant play pattern.


play pattern dogs view objects as toys when their traits resemble the attributes (scent, motion, and sound) of prey. successful toys trigger all three sensory responses. material selection, form and form language, and function communicate to the dog a specific play pattern, or behavior.

function. toy functions are defined by the initiating stimulus (scent, sound, motion) and supported play pattern(s) (ball, fetch, tug, chew, plush/squeak, treat). the play pattern denotes if the toy can be used independently or interactively.


play pattern

predatory behavior

form and form language. the size, shape, and color speak to the type of prey. both form and form language visually convey how the dog must interact with the toy. dogs will identify the weak point, or “neck� to grab-bite during dissection but will select the strongest section for tugging. form language must also express how a human should interact with the toy.






play pattern



play pattern





task to reward

play pattern

material. since dogs have a highly developed sense of smell, material selection is the most important design factor. the scent of an object can be inherent in the material or altered by food or another animal. so, the material’s ability to take on a smell is equally as important as its own smell.


play pattern


play pattern 12

toys according to play pattern ball






interactive (ownerdog); chase activity

interactive (ownerdog); chase activity

interactive (owner-dog -dog); grab activity

independent; kill activity

independent; dissect activity

independent; dissect activity, self-reward

$3 - $10

$5 - $15

$3 - $20

$5 - $15

$5 - $20

$10 - $20

natural, varied

rubber, fabric, plastic

nylon rope, fabric


fabric, fill

rubber, plastic


discussions with pet boutique owners revealed that over 50% of all toys sold were plush/squeak toys. ball and fetch toys made up 29% of the total market share. some retailers reported chew toys as their next highest seller while some stated that tug toys outsold chew. their combined market share is still considerably lower at 12%. treat toys make up the last 4% of the market share.


tug chew

review of the average lifespan of the toy groups show plush/squeak toys last the least amount of time — anywhere from a few minutes to a few days (partial toys not included). balls have lifespans of a few days since they are quickly destroyed, discarded, or lost. tug and chew toys have lifespans of several days and can remain mostly intact and functional up to a month. the relatively long lifespan of fetch toys may be attributed to the fact that it is an interactive toy and is generally used under human supervision. treat toys tend to last the longest since dogs lose interest in the toy once the treat is gone.



12 %

ball fetch




market share

29 %

55 %


average toy lifespan 14

toys ranked according to canine preference ball




plush/ squeak









motion/ shape


rank 15

i observed dogs over the course of several days, paying close attention to their interaction with toys. i discovered that dogs are not always enticed by toys; they must be in a playful state of mind in order to play. they have different play habits indoor vs outdoor and will select toys based on their willingness to play independently or interactively. the social hierarchy is evident in play as

there is distinct toy ownership. i also observed dogs at toy stores in order to discern the initial draw to a given toy. i noticed that dogs inspect the store with their noses, usually making their way to the treat section and overlooking toys entirely. balls, squeaking, and “long-legged� toys attracted the most dogs.

indoor vs outdoor

based on these factors, toys from each of the six categories were ranked according to how the average dog views toys. a normalized weighted average was used to compute the rank. scent was ranked highest followed by sound, then motion. plush/squeak toys ranked the highest, followed by balls. all but treat toys were used indoor and outdoor.

independent vs interactive

state of mind


conditions of play


i interviewed dog people and surveyed customers at local pet boutiques to determine the key factors that they considered when purchasing dog toys. the feedback given was different depending on whether they had their dogs with them or not. most would aid the dog in a toy selection, but the final call would be given to the dog. in the case that they had to choose


for their dog, most ranked aesthetic appeal as the key factor. durability and longevity and cost were the other factors. based on their feedback, the six categories were ranked using a normalized weighted average. aesthetic appeal was ranked higher than durability and longevity; cost weighted least.

results showed that the plush/ squeak toys ranked highest amongst humans as well. the playfulness, feel of the material, and “cuteness� as stuffed animals may account for the appeal. customers purchasing plush/squeak toys do not hesitate despite the higher cost and short lifespan. still, they wish they could be more durable.





plush/ squeak










aesthetic appeal



designing the ultimate dog toy market research shows a strong need for multi-purpose toys for small and large dogs. the ultimate toy combines the best aspects of current toys to make one even better.

based on the information gleaned from research, surveys, interviews, and analysis, i discovered that the market lacks multi-purpose toys such that they: • support multiple play patterns • could be scaled for small and big dogs • have lifespans of days to months • can used indoors and outdoors.


• appeal to both dogs and their people rather than trying to design a toy that encompassed everything, I focused my brainstorming on combining a couple of different play patterns. i began with ideation sketches of tug and fetch, fetch and chew, squeak and tug, and so on.

i also looked at ways of improving a standard tennis ball since it has such a strong appeal to both small and large dogs, and balls are a significant portion of the market share. again, i sought ways to support other play patterns. the final design was inspired by a chicken drumstick to create a playful dog toy.


bone-a-fide dog toy attracts dogs on a visceral level and promotes healthy play.


features and benefits

encourages socialization and play between other dogs and humans

designed to be used with a chuckit速

high bounce motion



squeaker built-in the highly durable rubber body

ecofriendly materials that are gentle on teeth and harmless if digested

rubber body and fur fabric are from recycled materials


the materials were selected to have the look and feel of a plush toy, flexibility for a squeaker, and durability of a chew.




fur (fabric from recycled plastic bottles)


rubber body (recycled materials)

3.3 in

bone-a-fide dog toy comes in large and small sizes. the dimensions are based on a standard (2.5 in) and mini tennis (2 in) ball.

3.8 in


thank you

810 quarry rd apt c san francisco, ca 94129 • 512.750.8404 •

810 quarry rd apt c san francisco, ca 94129 • 512.750.8404 •

Bone-A-Fide Project Book  

Project book shows the design process used with a focus on marketing research