(Warning: This post has a ridiculous number of pix.)
For most puppy owners, choosing a new pet toy is simple. You head to the closest petropolis, make your way to the toy aisle, and stand there, staring at all the bright colors in wonder. Then you find something totally adorable, maybe a pink fluffy bunny that squeaks when you squeeze it, or a baby blue tennis ball with a bell inside. You buy the toy, take it home, little Sparky is overjoyed, and that’s that.
But for some of us, that’s just not how it works. Maybe Sparky aspires to be an agility champion when he grows up. For the rest of us, our dogs are aiming for a profession more along the lines of velociraptor, or Tasmanian Devil wrangler.
I keep seeing toy reviews that include things like flirt poles, and fancy stuffed animals. Here’s a review for the rest of our nutty dogs. The ones who don’t lick and nuzzle their toys, but who take it as a personal challenge to mangle their toys beyond recognition, and/or eat them for a midnight snack.
For those of you who aren’t up to speed on my little terror, she is a Border Collie pup. She is almost 9 months. We have very few toys in the house. I got her at 5 months old. By 7 months old, she had eaten over 60 toys, and Kedric’s beloved toy collection was gone. We are on a mission! Ked wants toys. And the only way to keep them around is to make sure that Rowan can’t kill them.
I have a small list of criteria:
1. It cannot do serious damage if swallowed. This means no hard plastic to break into sharp bits, no “string” type toys that can slice open intestines when swallowed whole (think rope toys), etc. No small, hard parts (choking hazards).
2. It cannot be so hard that it cracks teeth when bit down on. I have read way too many horror stories about hellacious vet bills from having to remove fractured teeth!
3. It cannot be so soft that she has it shredded and/or ingested within seconds of handing it to her. That means most stuffed, squeaky, and floppy toys are out. There’s really no point in even wasting my money on them.
So, without further ado, here’s what we’ve tried so far:
The reviews on this were pretty good. People said their dogs adored the balls and it was one of the only things their dogs hadn’t been able to eat. At just over $10 a ball, they weren’t too expensive (that’s velociraptor shopping for ya – a $10 ball is considered cheap!), so I gave it a shot. Handed it to Rowan, who looked delighted, and I felt delighted until she bit down on it. Holy Jesus. Who designs the squeakers in these things?! Seriously one of the most annoying squeakers I have ever heard in my life. Not to worry though! She laid down and was chewing happily on it while I played on the computer. After maybe 3 minutes I realized I wasn’t hearing the squeaker anymore, so I turned around to check on her. She had the ball chewed in half and was chewing it into pieces small enough to eat. A quarter of the ball was already missing, down the hatch. I would include a picture of the ball, but it didn’t last long enough to take one.
I kept hearing the word “zogoflex” when looking up tough dog toys. Turns out this company has some revolutionary new material that they “guarantee tough”. Okay, I laughed, but I’m game! 🙂 I tried out the Bumi before any other toy in the Zogoflex line because it looked cool, and I didn’t want to get the dog nothing but boring, round balls. The Bumi can be used for fetch or tug. It bounces, it’s chewy, and it’s super springy! Since I bought it from Amazon, and not the West Paw site, I missed the fine print that said this is one of their Zogoflex “play” items, not one of the “chew” items. Still though. My puppy had this a couple weeks before she figured out the secret to putting scratches in it. She LOVES playing tug with it. We had it 3 months before enough pieces were chewed off that I figured it probably wasn’t safe for her to play with anymore and took it from her. West Paw Design is so cool though that they offer a one-time free replacement. So we are sending the Bumi back, and trying out one of the “chew” items to see if it holds up even longer. I plan to buy another Bumi again as well, because it was great for tug. It offers lots of grip to the human, and lots of bouncy, chewy goodness to the dog. I’ll just have to put it away after tug so it lasts longer this time around. Rowan was a fan, I was a fan. It didn’t last, but it lasted longer than everything we’d tried before, which is amazing! I plan to try all the toys in this line. Added bonus? Zogoflex floats! Any dog toy that floats gets added bonus points from me.
I used to have an Orka ball about 10 years ago, and I thought it was the coolest material. Of course, I didn’t have a monster then, so I decided to give this a go to see how it would hold up. I bought the Tire in November, and it is February… Not a scratch on it. IMPRESSED, I am! The Tire is interesting. It feels very rubbery/flexible, like a giant LifeSavers Gummi candy, and has no nasty smell. It is hollow, but since the material is see-through, if the inside of it gets nasty, you can see it and easily clean it out. The way the tire is set up, I’m sure you could stuff treats into it to keep your dog occupied. The slit in the tire is on the inside of the ring, just like with a real tire. I think this is what keeps Rowan from being able to eat it. She tries hard to get her mouth inside of the tire, but rarely succeeds. If the seam was on the outside, I’m sure she would have eaten it by now. The Tire is AWESOME for tugging. Since it’s flexy and chewy, but has grip lines on the outside, Rowan can yank as hard as she wants, and the tire just keeps bouncing back. Also, IT FLOATS! Bonus points, ALWAYS, for floaty toys! 🙂 I really want to get another ball from this company, as well as the Jack. I’ve seen good reviews for the Jack, so I’ve got some high hopes there.
Planet Dog recycles all of their toy remnants into these awesome balls. They are hollow through the center, so I didn’t know how they would hold up, but they’re rank “5 out of 5 chompers” for toughness on the site, and I’d seen lots of protection-work trainers online raving about the Orbee-Tuff line, so I thought I’d give the crunchy-hippie balls a chance. 🙂 You never know what colors you will get, as the balls are made from remnants of other toys. I got green and bright orange. The balls are tied together on a rope. You can untie them and use them separately, or tie them up however you’d like, to create interest. Well, Rowan’s interest was keen, and that rope was in about 10 pieces in under 2 minutes, so so much for that. *lol* I hadn’t expected the rope to last anyway, so I wasn’t heartbroken over it. The balls have a soft mint smell to them, which you won’t notice unless you put it to your nose and sniff. They are SUPER bouncy, and about the same size as a regular tennis ball. Both of my dogs love to chomp-chomp-chomp them because they are hollow and make an interesting collapsing/suction sound when they are squished flat and then released. I suppose you could put small treats inside if you wanted to. The hole on one end is larger than the hole on the other, so that could create some interest, as larger treats would only fall out one of the holes. The holes are NOT large enough to reach into though, so cleaning out isn’t as simple as it could be. We have played with these outside and got mud in them, and I found it simple enough to pour a drop of soap inside and clean out. The larger hole is big enough to fit a finger into, so you can “scrub” the inside to make sure all the junk is out. These toys ALSO float (what luck!!!), which is both awesome and not so awesome, since Rowan likes to drop them in the water bucket, let them fill with water, then slowly pull them out like she’s bobbing for apples, soaking my floor. Oh well, at least she’s entertained. 🙂 She prefers the orange ball to the green ball. I think it’s easier to see when it lands on things, since it’s bright. After 3 months, these balls still look perfect. Not a single nibble taken out of them. Very impressive! And even though the rope didn’t last, I like that I can tie my own rope through the holes so it’s easy to throw without getting slobbery if I wanted to.
I have Ruff Dawg’s rubber bowl for traveling, and it works great. I also have a plethora of their K9 Flyers. I lovelovelove the K9 Flyers! They come in standard or mini. When we were training for agility, many moons ago, we discovered these. They can be rolled up and put into your pocket like a burrito for training purposes, and they are soft, so if you fly one right into the side of your dog’s head, they won’t hurt him. They are one of the only frisbees that Kedric will catch. With hard ones, he ducks as they fly by, then picks them up off the ground. They are also one of the only frisbees that he doesn’t destroy the second he catches them. Regular frisbees are gone as soon as they hit his mouth. He holds them down and crunches them into scary splinters, so they don’t even last a single session. That being said though, he CAN chew through them if you let him use them as a chew toy. Knowing this, I looked into the rest of Ruff Dawg’s products. The Stick had good reviews as a fetch toy, and the Peanut had great reviews as a chew toy. I found the 3-pack online, which offered a Stick, a Peanut, and a K9 Flyer. I can always use more K9 Flyers! 🙂 So these arrived, and I was excited to try them. Ruff Dawg’s products smell like rubber. Makes sense, right? They ARE rubber. But if you’re not expecting them to SMELL like rubber, you might be surprised when you first pull them out of the package. On top of the smell, they also do not float. That kind of sucks, since lots of people who play fetch do so around water. Well, long story short there. Rowan loved the stick. She held it down and had several pieces chewed off and swallowed within probably 2 minutes. That sucks. It does, however, work great as a tug toy. It’s really flexible and bouncy, and doesn’t seem like it will fall apart with vigorous tugging. Unfortunately, I have to keep it hidden in the closet outside of tug, because it’s way too easy for Rowan to eat like a big corn-on-the-cob. So I handed her the peanut. Higher hopes there, since so many people online said their dogs chewed the crap out of it and it held up well. I was hoping the shape/design would stop her from eating it. Well, maybe 3 minutes into that, and she had the end chewed off and swallowed. Luckily the material is soft enough that it passed through her just fine, but… Yeah, big waste of $20! (Except, you know, that I got a new K9 Flyer out of the deal… It was the same price to buy a Peanut and a Stick as it was to buy the 3-pack, so happy new K9 Flyer to me!)
I have a regular Kong, which used to be a Kong Tug, until Rowan ate all the firehose tug straps off. Now that it’s firehose-less and squeaker-less, she mostly shrugs at it. I think because it just isn’t very soft to chew on. So I bought a Kong Senior. It’s a bit softer than the regular Kong, but still tough. While she likes this toy, and she hasn’t chewed it to pieces yet, she’s just not very interested in it. Sometimes I find her holding it down and gnawing on it, which is more than I can say for the original Kong, but all in all, it doesn’t hold her attention too much. Ked, on the other hand, thinks it’s awesome. He gets worked up and holds it down and tries to tear it up. Other pros: You can put stuff in it. One of the holes is large enough to let you clean inside (with just a little hassle). You can also tie a rope through it, for easier throwing. Cons: Doesn’t float. 😦
The Snowball is made out of the same material that the Recycle Balls are, so I was expecting it to be pretty much exactly the same thing, but it’s not. This is a first-run product, not a product made of first-run product remains. The mint smell is much stronger. When you play fetch with your dog, your hands will smell minty afterward. It’s also thicker than the Recycle Balls. I was not expecting it to be hollow and have holes on both ends like the Recycle Balls, but it does. So cool points there for a design that allows you to tie a rope through it or put random little treats inside. Because it is thicker than the Recycle Balls, it also weighs a little more. It is also slightly larger than them. And I’m not sure exactly what the difference between this and the Recycle Balls is, but it almost has a sticky texture. I’m wondering if it’s from the mint. It seems to be lessening as they play with it more, and it still smells minty though, so I’m really not sure. We’ve had this ball probably a month, and it’s holding up perfectly. Again, added bonus points for buoyancy! 🙂
The next company I really have my eye on to try is Goughnuts. I really want their green doughnut, and yellow stick.
If you know of any other awesome products out there for power chewers, please leave a note!
When I try out new products in the future, I will leave more reviews on them. I’m always on the lookout for cool new “indestructible” (ha!) toys.