In this day and age, a pet owner can find a toy perfect for whatever their pup's heart desires. From pop culture icons to specific scents and flavors, the sky is the limit! How have our doggos come to be so spoiled with unlimited dog toy choices? How did a stick and a tennis ball evolve into a billion-dollar empire? Surprisingly, much of what we love to splurge on for our four-legged friends dates back to the mid to late 1800s. Commodities like dog furniture, seasonal gifts, and doggie exercise equipment go back nearly 100 years!
So where exactly did the idea to fill baskets and buckets with endless toys for dogs originate? Ironically enough, the pet toy industry originally wasn’t even targeted towards dogs! The inception of the dog toy industry blossomed out of a love for birds. Victorian bird keepers were the first to use “enrichment” toys for their caged songbirds. This was partly because birds are caged and needed a way to entertain themselves.
By the 1890s, pet stores opened in major cities with broader merchandise intentioned for the caring of a variety of animals. During the 1930s, department stores even began to include pets and pet items in their home section. Around the same time, stores began advertising holiday gifts for pets. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that rubber toys entered the pet industry. After World War II, family incomes increased and there were numerous advancements in manufacturing. This lead to the development of rubber dog toys! Additionally, in the 1950s, companies like Rawhide and Nylabone hit the market to address dogs' instinctual chewing needs. As the demand for dog toys grew, so did the need for a place to house these products! The first national pet store franchise launched in the 1960s and the first big box store, PetSmart, opened in 1987.
Since the mid-1980s the toy market has exploded with a variety of enrichment options. Jolly Pets soon followed! In 1994, Jolly Pets was founded, following the great success of the original Jolly Ball®, a toy manufactured for the equine industry under the Horsemen’s Pride name. Many horse owners found that their dogs were enjoying the Jolly Ball just as much as, if not more than, their horses. Since then, Jolly Pets has continually expanded its product line with new and innovative products in order to offer the most complete line of top quality toys for every size pet.