Interview with Kevin Dixon of Clawguard
Kevin Dixon, pet industry entrepreneur, discusses the idea behind CLAWGUARD® and the company’s philosophy on need-born innovation.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and as Kevin Dixon of CLAWGUARD® explains, sometimes that necessity comes with a wagging tail and four legs.
CLAWGUARDwas invented after Kevin and his wife, Margo, visited the Atlanta Humane Society in 2000 with the idea of just “looking at” dogs. They left with a new family member—a Boxer-Sharpei mix named Foster.
Q:How did Foster inspire CLAWGUARD?
A:We fell in love with Foster at first sight—that was the easy part of living with him. The difficult part was that, as he grew, his anxiety intensified. That anxiety manifested with his chewing and clawing the doors, cabinets, furniture and carpeting in our apartment. We tried everything to discourage him from scratching and protect the apartment to no avail; and we lost thousands of dollars in pet deposits.
Q:What approaches did you take to try to stop Foster from clawing?
A:You name it, we tried it! Cardboard shields, we slid furniture in front of the doors, and even used deterrent sprays. Nothing worked. We got to the point of thinking we loved Foster, but we were just going to have to live with him destroying our apartments.
When we bought a new house in 2009, it took fewer than six months for him to destroy the new front door. We were at our wits’ end. We knew we weren’t giving Foster up, so we had to find a solution. There was nothing on the market that worked, so I created my own solution.
The first CLAWGUARD prototype was a cardboard shield that fit over the door and doorframe. It worked…for a couple of days. Then, Foster scratched his way through and was back to damaging the door. I went online and bought several clear door protectors, but each had its own drawbacks. Some of the shields I purchased had too much hardware to install and that damaged the door, they weren’t made well or the design just didn’t make any sense.
For the love of Foster, I took matters into my own hands, created a prototype door guard and had ten CLAWGUARDS made as a test product. I used one at our home and give nine to friends with dogs who were having the same issue—dogs clawing up the doors. The feedback was amazing and CLAWGUARD was born.
Q:How did Foster react to CLAWGUARD?
A:It was unbelievable. He sniffed it, stared at it, and then after a few seconds he started scratching. CLAWGUARD moved slightly. Foster jumped back, then sat down—but didn’t scratch.
Q:Does a pet parent have to teach his or her dog to not scratch once CLAWGUARD is put in place?
A:There’s no training involved. CLAWGUARD is a simple solution to a costly problem. If your dog still scratches the door, CLAWGUARD will protect it from further damage. You don’t have to teach your dog to not scratch—although you can work on that with them.
We’ve found that if someone has a dog who scratches, the pet parent should try and uncover the reason behind the scratching. Is it separation anxiety, stress, boredom? If you can determine that, you might stop the scratching.
Q:If someone wants to use CLAWGUARD is there a concern it might interfere with the home’s décor?
A:Not at all. CLAWGUARD and CLAWGUARD tape (used to protect window sills and door jambs) are meant to blend in with the décor. CLAWGUARD products are made of clear or frosted clear to match any décor. In the past few months, we have had requests from customers for colored CLAWGUARD. So, we will be releasing two new colors: Blueberry and Grape. We also had a customer who had a clear CLAWGUARD and sent us photos of how they’d decorated it with L.A. Lakers sports decals and colored it Lakers colors.
Q:What is the most satisfying aspect of running CLAWGUARD and helping pet parents of dogs who scratch and destroy doors?
A: I love that we can pivot quickly and respond to requests from customers. We can create new products, test them and bring them to market if they make sense. We only launch products if they are of high quality and address a unique need.
CLAWGUARD Tape, for example, was invented because of an issue our neighbor was having with his cat, Felix. The cat was scratching out the weather stripping. He asked if we had a product that could prevent Felix from doing that. The request prompted the invention of CLAWGUARD Tape to protect the weather stripping. CLAWGUARD Tape also protects windowsills—perfect if you have a dog who gnaws window sills when you’re away.
Q:If you could offer any advice to someone wanting to break into the pet industry with his or her own business, what would it be?
A:From an entrepreneurial perspective, don’t be afraid to tell the world about your idea. When I first started, I was afraid if I told anyone about CLAWGUARD, they would steal my idea. As your business grows, you need to be able to find the right supply chain, manufacturers and a plan in place for inventory management. Bottom line: Swallow our fears and dive right in. Network. Ask questions. Read about business. Become an expert in your field.
Epilogue: At its foundation, CLAWGUARD is a company dedicated to giving back to shelters. Kevin said that even though they lost so much money in pet deposits, they never stopped loving Foster or looking for a way to protect their home and to protect his paws from splinters.
He said he loves when he hears from customers who say, “Thank you for CLAWGUARD. You’ve helped protect our home and my dog’s paws and you’re helping us live happier lives together.” CLAWGUARD has made it a point to make donations to rescues and shelters to help pets find forever homes.
Foster, the inspiration behind CLAWGUARD passed away a couple years ago and the family welcomed their new dog, Charlie Bear.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.