Protect Your Pups With the Best Boots on Your Dog’s Paws | Walkee Paws

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Animal Innovations Show - Episode 64 - Walkee Paws

Protect Your Pups With the Best Boots on Your Dog’s Paws | Walkee Paws

Who knew it was possible to protect your pups with dog leggings that easily stay on doggie paws?

Lisa Baronoff, founder of Walkee Paws, had this to say about the world’s first dog leggings:

“I launched the world’s first doggie legging back in 2018… And this was basically in response to the fact that booties… just don’t work… So, we sort of created a whole new category of business in the dog apparel business…”

That dog business, it turned out, became what we now know as Walkee Paws.

Starting Walkee Paws from Scratch

Founded by Lisa, a proud owner of a Goldendoodle named Stir Fry and a (deceased) Cocker Spaniel named Toffee, Walkee Paws were designed to protect your pooch from the germs, dirt, and other rough elements that came with being outside.

Walkee Paws Dog Leggings for Your Dog’s Paws

According to Lisa, who is a dog owner based in Manhattan,

“Back in 2015, I had a really big problem. Toffee got really sick one year, and the vet suggested that Toffee wear booties because there were snowmelt chemicals on the ground.”

Although she had never tried booties before, she was on a mission to help alleviate the suffering of her beloved pup. So, she bought a ton of all different types and iterations of the product to make sure that her Cocker Spaniel would feel much better.

However, her shopping only made her realize that there were three problems in the design and development of the dog boots existing in the market at the time.

“It was very hard to get a booty onto a dog that’s writhing and moving around… And then if you did manage to get them on, they rely on being tied around a dog’s ankle to stay on. So, they sort of stopped the blood flow, and they’re very uncomfortable. And dogs do a very funny walk… And then if I eventually would be able to get him to go downstairs and walk in them a little bit in the snow, invariably, one or more boots would fall off…”

This experience gave her the idea of a product that pet parents can use to suspend over a dog’s back and wouldn’t rely on being tight around the ankles.

“And then you’d never lose a booty because they all connected together as sort of like a system. And then when I went on to try and do a prototype and develop them more, and I realized there were other benefits,”

Lisa said.

Walkee Paws as the Best Boots on Your Dog’s Paws

The Benefits of Using Walkee Paws Dog Leggings

Having come from a fashion and marketing background, Lisa wanted to make sure that her Fido remains comfortable even with the dog leggings on.

For this reason, she saw to it that the Walkee Paws would be easy to walk in and take off.

“You can machine-wash them, you can rinse the pores under cool water. And just one thing led to another… It was quite an experience getting this all going,”

Lisa remarked.

Walkee Paws benefits for doggie paws

Sharing her thoughts on what could have contributed to Walkee Paws’ success, she added,

“I think one of the reasons they sold was…no one had done a doggie legging. And then the other thing with leggings is that there’s a huge trend in women’s wear towards women wearing athleisure all day long… And then there’s a trend towards humanisation in the pet industry. So, the idea was: ‘If women can wear their leggings, why not dogs, too?’… And then I think by addressing these pain points…I think that really helps the product to take off.”

 

 

Learn more about Walkee Paws!

Check out their website at https://walkeepaws.com/.

 

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Chris: Welcome, Lisa.

Welcome, Stir Fry.

So, tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Lisa: I launched the world’s first doggie legging back in 2018, and this was basically in response to the fact that booties— I don’t know if anyone has ever tried booties, where many people have, they just don’t work.

My dog is actually in the picture back here. It was my late dog. He passed away a few years ago. He’s a Cocker Spaniel.

And back in 2015, I had a really big problem. I live in Manhattan, and there’s the snow, and he got really sick one year. And the vet was like— he suggested the snowmelt chemicals, by licking his paws. And he needs to wear booties because there’s snowmelt chemicals on the ground. And I had never tried booties— in my life, but I was on a mission, so, I bought a ton of them, and all of them I tried. Like, the little rubber ones and the proper leather ones, and all the different types and whatever iterations.

And they all had the same 3 problems. It was very hard to get a booty onto— you know, a dog who’s writhing and moving around, to get four different booties onto their— their squirming, you know, legs. And then if you did manage to get them on, they rely on being tied around a dog’s ankle, to stay on. So, they sort of stopped the blood flow. And they’re very uncomfortable. And dogs do a very funny walk.

So, my dog Toff didn’t like them at all. And then if I eventually would be able to get him to go downstairs and walk him a little bit and we get outside in the snow. Invariably, one or more of the booties would fall off. They get lost in snow. I’d come home. I would have spent $50 on a set of booties. I didn’t spend another $50 to buy another set.

I had this idea one day I came home and I was like, “You know, this just isn’t working.” And I took a pair of pantyhose, actually, two pairs of pantyhose, put them on top of his front legs and his back legs, sort of tied them in a big knot on his back. And I had this idea to do a doggy legging. And he was, he was not very impressed with me. He was running around— and he didn’t like the pantyhose.

But I was like, “Wow, this would like, solve the problems.” Because they suspend over a dog’s back, and you can sort of, see them in the picture here. They wouldn’t rely on being tight around the ankles. And then you never lose a booty, because they all connected together, as sort of like a system.

Then when I went on to try and do a prototype and develop them more—  I realized there were other benefits.

So, my dog— Stir Fry, who is a Golden Doodle. He gets a lot of snow clumps in his actual legs, and in his fur. So, this really protects the entire leg as well. So, it’s not just the booties. It’s the leg as well. And they’re just so easy.

You just walk in them, take them off or hang them on the door— the doorknob, and then leave it outside. And the next time you go up, they’re ready to go again. You can machine wash them. You can rinse the paws under cool water.

Just one thing led to another, just sort of launched them. It was quite an experience getting this all going. We launched on a website and on Amazon, and they just took off.

Couldn’t actually believe— they just sold without very much marketing. There was very little— a little bit of PR, and we managed to get into People Magazine, which was really great. They wrote a whole article about dog leggings, and the world’s first doggie leggings.

And I think one of the reasons they sold—was we sort of created a whole new category of business, in the dog apparel business.Because—you know, there are dog shoes and there are dogs—you know, socks—No one had done a doggie legging.

And then the other thing with leggings is, there’s a huge trend in women’s wear, towards women wearing— Athlesia, all day long and walking around in fun, cool leggings. And then there’s a trend towards humanization in the pet industry. So, the idea was if—you know, if women can wear their leggings, why not dogs, too?

So, I think it just gelled from all of those points of view. And then I think— by bracing the 3 pain points that I had with booties, I think that really helped the product to take off.

So, that’s how I’m helping dogs. I’m helping them by not having to wear those booties, that are really uncomfortable and they fall off and— you know, just doesn’t work.

Chris: Yeah. Well, like I was telling you, I’m in Wisconsin, and our dog—I mean, particularly in the dead of January, right where it’s like, “Come on, we got to put the booties on and he holds his paw and he looks like he’s paralyzed.”

And like you said, the moment you get outside, almost invariably one falls off. Because the little piece of velcro it doesn’t—either doesn’t wrap around and secure.Or, as you said, you’re worried you’re doing it so tight that they can’t even walk in them.

So, I love the fact that with just a simple design, I mean, you totally revolutionized this.

Lisa: Pretty crazy it was, and I had a lot of fun with it, because I sort of come from a fashion background. My mother was a very successful fashion designer back in South Africa. So, I grew up sort of in the garment industry. 

And then I had fun with the idea of doing all different types of patterns. So, we kind of have black and cocoa for sort of the dog that wants to blend in. Because if you have a black dog and you wear the black leggings, you don’t really see them, same with the brown. But then we also have really cool patterns like camo and confetti, which is kind of little dots all over, we have hearts.

We actually just launched a ballerina style, which is sort of the color of my top— a pink legging, that has the black booties. So, it looks like your dogs wearing ballet shoes, just having a lot of fun with the creativity of all the different patterns we can do. And it’s kind of fun. And people are going along with it and loving it.

And I’m just very grateful that— because I wasn’t really sure when I first launched this, I had one friend who sat across it on the table for me and she’s like, “Really, I don’t think I’m putting my dog in that.” And I’m like, “Okay.” And then I was like: Well, maybe people aren’t going to like this. And then it launched and people love it. And even coming from customers, because we very,  very much, value customer feedback, especially the negative.

Believe it or not, because anything that people say that’s not good. We can try and make it better. So, we really love getting all that feedback.

And we get a lot of positive, which is great, too. But it’s from all that feedback that we get from customers. That’s how the indoor leggings came about, how the line of stocks came about.

And then it was my own personal experience— with the coat and the leggings. So, it’s sort of all a process, and it’s evolving. And we constantly trying to improve the leggings.

So, we’ve sort of had different iterations every year of a new and improved legging. So, that sort of evolved over time, like the very first ones didn’t have the rookies on the boards.

And then people were like: They’re sliding a little bit in them.

And then they didn’t have a water-resistant fabric, so we added that. And then they only have one little attachment on the back. And people were saying it wasn’t fitting perfectly. So we got two. So, it’s kind of evolving. And right now we’re in the process of evolving it for next year again.So, it’s very interesting, very fun.

Chris: And you said your background was more in marketing. So, this must be kind of different for you now, being in the product development, and kind of engineering side of things.

Lisa: Yeah. Well, it was really product development and marketing. I think the thing that’s challenging for me is the real business side of it. Because I’m really— right-brained, very creative. I’m a little all over the place.

So, developing, the product, and coming up with the ideas is really fun. And that’s my wheelhouse. But then all the back door functions of the stock and the inventory and supply. And it’s just overwhelming. That’s the challenge.—it’s not all that much fun.

Chris: But I totally understand you’re more of the right brain. And you just need to hire somebody to manage the rest of the stuff.

Lisa: It’s hard for me to let go, though. I’m like— I’m a real Type A person, so I want to be involved in everything.

So, I need to step back and delegate and let someone else do—

Chris: And I think that’s good.

So, I’m really excited you’ve done all this in the span of you said, just a few years now, like it’s been like three years.

Where do you see the business going now? From here.

Lisa: So, we tried to expand our digital footprint right now—

So, we were on Shark Tank in February. We were approached to be on Shark Tank, which was very cool. And that was an amazing experience. And it was kind of interesting because a lot of doors opened for me after Shark Tank, and it wasn’t— everything you’d expect, but a lot of retailers actually reached out to me, which I didn’t think that would happen.

So, we are going to be in Chewy for 4th quarter. We haven’t been there before, and I’m very excited. Because that’s really a place where people have dogs are going. So, it makes total sense to be there.

We just launched in Zappos. It’s kind of cute because they do the shoes, but they’re doing, doggie shoes as well. So, that’s been exciting.

And then we’re just looking to expand, slowly but surely—potentially, even worldwide.

Canada is a really big market for us, and that’s just happened organically because the weather is there. It’s cold and people want our solution.

We sort of just taking it baby steps— step-by-step and see what happens—and you know—what this crazy world throws at us, you’ll never know what’s next.

Chris: You’re doing such a good job of pivoting and growing, I love the idea of the human and dog match pairing right— of leggings. I love the fashion side of this, it’s just give us more to do with our dogs. Most of the dog booties I’ve seen are all just kind of—black or bown. Like you said, they’re very boring. So, it’s kind of accessorizing with your dog and making it a little bit more fun on a cold, dreary, winter day.

Lisa: Yup, that’s our intention. To make dog walks fun and functional. Like, they can be functional but they can be fun at the same time. We just want people to have fun with it and at the same time get a benefit out of it. 

And we have so many customers that were writng and say, “You know, you save me so much money on vet bills, because my dog use to get sick…or whatever it is.” I mean, there were other reasons people use these that I never even thought of it at that time. 

I launched them because of winter, and snow, and snow chemicals. But there are also sort of other things. Like in the summer, there’s allergies. Who would have known, dogs have allergies—rocks and pollens, and red weed. You know, things that get caught in dogs’ paws that people had issues with. Just in general, the rain, the mud, the dirt—I think COVID also you know, to a certain extent, people became more aware of what were bringing into our house. Especially when we are all wiping down our packages. You know, anything coming from outside.

It’s interesting because they have done studies on what dogs are bringing into the home. Not with—you know, humanization, dogs are sleeping into human’s beds. I mean, my dog sleeps in my bed, every single night. So, it’s kinda crazy to think, your dog is walking in to the streets of New York. Literally stepping on—you know, dog’s been into the bathroom—and coming home and jumping into your bed. So—

There’s a lot of reasons to wear WalkeePaws, it’s not just for the cold weather and the snow. So, that’s sort of really been an all-year round product that peaks in the winter months. But I really thought when I launched this, it was just gonna be a seasonal product. And it really isn’t so—that’s been a great surprise.

Chris: This has been quite a journey that you’ve been on. I’m sure it’s going to be a long journey. What have you learned about yourself along the way?

Lisa: It’s kind of interesting to be in every part of the business to see what’s happening. So, that’s been exciting and I think I also learned the extent to love more dogs. I’m obsessed. My kids think I’m the crazy dog lady. They tell me that my dog Stir Fry is the favorite child, which I can’t say he isn’t. He’s just fabulous. It’s just, I love dogs so much, it’s just incredible. It’s like a—this was meant to be happening to me. I was meant to be doing something with dogs.

Chris: That is super cool. This is really exciting. I’m excited to see where you come from and where you’re headed. Is there anything else you wanted to mention before we wrap things up today?

Lisa: I just wanted to mention that, say thank you to everyone who has tried WalkeePaws and anyone who has commented and given me feedback. I really, really appreciate that.

And to anyone who hasn’t and if they’re looking for a solution to protect their dog’s paws, they really should try the WalkeePaws ’cause it’s what we call, “The Better Bootie.” A couple of tries and once you get it right, then it’s really well worth it. Because it saves so much time and energy with everything, your dog will thank you. You’ll be you know, very excited about it. And it’s an easy way to leave the dirt outside. 

Also, we do give back—I know you are into animal rescue, you are very dear to my heart. I’m really—I really believe in dogs, and dog’s courses. We give back 2% revenue on every single purchase on the website back to a charity of your choice, and you can do that on the website when you check out. You can choose what dog charity to donate to. 

So, that’s really important to us. As the company grows, I actually plan to do more of that—because it’s really heartbreaking for me to see dogs that are not—you know, well look often and don’t have homes, that’s really really awful.

Chris: That’s very nice. And thank you for doing that. I know there’s a lot of rescues and shelters that really can use the help. So, that’s amazing that you are doing that.

Tell people again. I know you said they can get them on Amazon, but maybe tell them the website how to—

Lisa: So, people can go to WALKEEPAWS, WWW.WALKEEPAWS.COM

And just to remember it’s spelled with two E’s, it’s W-A-L-K-E-E, Paws.

And that’s probably the best way, because we have the full range of everything on the website. We do also sell on Amazon, and we will be on Chewy, but probably only in a month’s time and on Zappos as well. So, give us a try.

Let us know what you think, and we hope you love them.

Chris: Yeah. Absolutely.

Well, this is super exciting. I’m really glad you came on to talk about this.And as we wrap up, I’ll just remind our viewers and listeners, that if you have a great, innovative idea like Lisa did, for something that literally becomes a new category, right— for dogs. Let us know about it. We’d love to have you on the show.

If you want to talk about a product or service or even just an idea, go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and let us know and we’ll get you on the show.

So, thank you again for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Lisa: Thank you, Chris.

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