BarkBox is arguably the most popular pet subscription box — I tried it and can see why dogs and their owners love it
BarkBox is a subscription box filled with dog toys and treats. Since 2012, the popular boxes have been shipped to more than 2 million dogs.
Prices range from $22 to $29 per month, and each box includes exclusive toys, all-natural treats, and a chew.
I tested it with my dog Archie who will chew on or play with just about anything, so I'm not surprised he loved the BarkBox toys so much. I'm pleased with their quality and durability.
Table of ContentsFrom groceries and prepared meals to clothing and beauty products, there is a monthly subscription service for everything — including dog toys. When it comes to monthly pet product subscriptions, there are several options to choose from. There are Petco's PupBox, Bullymake, and RescueBox for dogs, and boxes for our feline friends from Cat Lady Box and KitNipBox, to name a few. Add to that fresh food delivery services like The Farmer's Dog, NomNomNow, PetPlate, Ollie, and Spot & Tango. And then there is arguably the most popular: BarkBox. Since its inception, it's delivered boxes to more than 2 million dogs and partnered with stores like Target to bring their most popular toys to nonsubscribers. I decided to test the service with my dog Archie who loves to play with and chew on almost everything. How does BarkBox work?
To keep it simple, BarkBox sends you a box of toys, treats, and accessories once a month. Not only does BarkBox offer monthly deliveries of toys and treats, but each box has a unique theme. One month your dog might receive a collection of holiday-themed treats and toys while the next month his BarkBox might send him on a journey through Chewrassic Bark. Each box contains two innovative toys, two bags of all-natural treats, a chew, and a specially curated item from the month's themed collection. Every toy is designed by in-house industrial designers, made for the way dogs play and approved by the company's own test dogs. To sign up, all you have to do is create an online profile, answering questions about your dog's size and dietary preferences. You can also choose from the standard BarkBox filled with plush toys or the Super Chewer Box filled with fluff-free tough toys. From there, you can choose a one-month subscription ($29), six months ($25/box), or 12 months ($22/box). The entire subscription process takes less than five minutes. Testing the BarkBox To write my review, Archie and I received two BarkBoxes with assorted toys, treats, and chews from the Bark Slope Street Fair collection. Here's what we received:
Fresh Fair Treats, Lamb Gyro Recipe Fresh Fair Treats, Duck Shish Kabob Recipe Fresh Fair Treats, Chicken & Fish Taco Recipe New York City Central Pork Pizza Treats Plato Pet Treats Thinkers Chew, Salmon Recipe (2) Max's Maine Lobster Roll (Plush Toy) Gideon the Pigeon (Plush Toy) Bebe the Burrito (Plush Toy) Lickton Iced Tea (Spiky Core Toy) Shuck n' Chuck Corn Cob (Super Chewer Toy) The All-Powerful Pupsicle (Super Chewer Toy) Buns of Steel Hotdog (Super Chewer Toy)
From the moment I started opening the BarkBox, Archie was intrigued — the noise of the packing paper alone sent him into an excited frenzy. The first thing I grabbed out of the box was Max's Main Lobster Roll, one of the plush toys. I gave the toy a good squeeze and Archie's ears perked up and his head tilted to the side. I waved the toy around a couple of times then offered it to him. He immediately grabbed it out of my hand, ran down the hall into the bedroom, and started chewing. Archie loves a good plush toy, especially if there's a squeaker involved. But what he really loved about Max's Maine Lobster Roll was the crinkle noise it made. Several other toys in the collection made similar noises, and he seemed to prefer them above the hard Super Chewer toys. He gobbled up the treats (which was a little surprising since he's been picky about treats in the past) and he made quick work of the chews as well. I'm now writing this several weeks after receiving Archie's BarkBox. My bedroom floor is currently covered in tufts of stuffing ripped out of several plush toys I'd received as gifts. Archie's beloved stuffed lamb and puppy are no more, but his BarkBox plush toys are still around (though he did manage to get the squeaker out of Gideon the Pigeon and chewed that to shreds). Needless to say, I think he's a fan of BarkBox and so am I. What's the verdict? Archie will chew on or play with just about anything, so I'm not surprised he loved the BarkBox so much. I am, however, pleased with the quality and durability of the toys. Even the plush toys from the regular BarkBox stood up well, and I'm convinced the Super Chewer toys will last forever. Archie loves chews, so those are long gone already. I'm not sure that I need two bags of treats every month, though. One final thing I found interesting is that BarkBox is very allergy-friendly. Every BarkBox is free from corn, wheat, and soy, which greatly reduces the risk for triggering allergies and food sensitivities. There are also options for dogs that are allergic to chicken, beef, and turkey — you simply have to call BarkBox or use their live chat feature, and they'll send you an allergy-friendly box. To wrap up, here's an overview of the pros and cons for BarkBox: The pros
Everything is of the highest quality, including all-natural dog treats and innovative toys. Each box is tailored to fit your dog's size, and options are available for dogs with allergies. You can reorder certain items or purchase items from other collections online. There is a money-back guarantee if your dog doesn't like every item in the box. BarkBox donates 5% of their profits go toward supporting organizations that provide free or low-cost vet care through spay and neuter programs. Discounted prices are available for buying multiple months and for multiple dogs.
Subscription automatically renews; you'll be charged and sent another box if you don't cancel. Some of the plush toys may not be ideal for heavy chewers and the stuffing could be a choking hazard — there is also access to the squeaker inside if your dog rips open the toy. The rubberized toys that come in the Super Chewer box are heavy and somewhat awkward.
All in all, I was very pleased with my BarkBox experience and I think it's safe to say that Archie is too. Join the conversation about this story »
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My daughter loves playing with these toy kits that encourage brain development in babies and toddlers
Lovevery is a new toy brand created by early childhood development experts that offers curated...Lovevery is a new toy brand created by early childhood development experts that offers curated play kits with age-appropriate toys sorted into two- to three-month age groups. You can subscribe to a plan or buy kits separately; subscriptions start at $36 a month and solo kits start at $80. Each kit comes with a number of toys as well as a comprehensive guide that helps parents present toys and activities at the right times and in ways that are most enjoyable and stimulating for their children. Lovevery toys are designed to entertain, but also to help a child's rapidly developing brain form connections between the billions of nerve cells just waiting to link up. Table of Contents Finding the best toys for babies and toddlers can be a serious challenge. If I had a nickel every time my son or daughter pushed a toy aside and instead played with a spatula or shoe, I'd have enough money to go buy another toy they might reject. So how to find the very best toys for a young child? With my son Ben, who is now 5 1/2 and onto Lego bricks, writing and illustrating stories, and (limited) use of technology, it was a genuine struggle. My wife and I wanted to make sure he had great toys that would make playtime both fun and meaningful in terms of mental and motor development, and usually, this meant doing a lot of research and buying things on a one-off basis. We found plenty of great toys, but his collection was never as cohesive as we would've liked, and it grew a bit too large after a while too because we were constantly playing a guessing game with our purchases. In the past year, my wife and I have found that trusting toy curation to the team of experts Lovevery works out quite well. The experts come from the fields of psychology, development, occupational therapy, and education, so when these folks set out to create a company that produces toy and activity kits that would help foster brain development, they went all in. But calling Lovevery a toy company would be like calling a forest a place with trees. Yes, there are trees, but there's so much more going on among them. What are Lovevery play kits? Lovevery play kits are broken out into six kits (or subscriptions, if you choose that plan) intended to be swapped out every two months for babies, and into four kits intended to be swapped every three months for the brand-new toddler kits. Each kit contains carefully selected items that will engage, entertain, and enlighten youngsters. There's the Looker Play Kit intended for newborns and babies through the first eight weeks of life. It contains things like a soft silicone rattle, cards with simple high-contrast images, and mittens with geometric patterns. Most of the objects in the Looker kit use only bold black and white colors because that's what a newborn's eyes can see, and the toys are designed for use by a little human who's not yet using his or her hands with any sense of control, or is just rolling over and still acting largely by instinct. As for the instincts that make them put toys into their mouths — each item included in these kits is made with nontoxic water-based paints or dyes, organic fabric, sustainably-sourced wood, and other safe, eco-friendly materials. For older children who are between 11 and 12 months, the Thinker Play Kit contains a colorful doll, weighted balls, books with full-color images, and multiple toys that require manipulation and basic dexterity. Basically, what each of these kits contain are objects that are developmentally appropriate for kids of the respective age. But kids don't simply move on from the earlier toys when they outgrow the kit's intended age group; instead, the way a child engages with the toys evolves as their abilities and interests expand. What they're like to use Our daughter Scarlett still loves many of the toys she has played with for a year, and now she carries them around while walking and talking (well, babbling) instead of kicking at them as she lies on her back on a play mat. The lasting power of these toys makes the $40 monthly expense seem quite affordable for my wife and I, especially compared with what we'd spend buying toy after toy that'd be rapidly discarded for a spatula. As kids enter their first full year, their development continues rapidly, but each child will hit milestones at different times, so the toddler kits are spread over three months instead of six, with four kits making up the whole year. "Year-two play kits cover three months of play to accommodate more divergent development paths [with] more complex products," explains Emily Tetz, director of marketing from Lovevery. The toddler kits are larger and include more items in each box, allowing parents (or caregivers) to consider which toys to introduce over each three-month period to meet the abilities of a growing child and coax out their best efforts at problem-solving and critical thinking. This might be hard to believe, but don't worry, the kids will have fun in the process — they'll just form some new neural pathways while doing it. What makes Lovevery stand out While the kits are great, the play guide that comes with each kit is what truly sets Lovevery apart. The guides, which include full-color images and are broken down into easily-digested sections ("What and When," "The Playthings," and "More Activities") show parents and caregivers when and how each toy or item should be introduced and advise on how an adult can help a child engage with the item. Going beyond the toys themselves, these guides also explain what's going on with your child ("Learning to control his arms and legs" or "Recognizes people who take care of him," to name two examples out of dozens), what each toy is designed to help with (like sensory exploration or making connections), and even what you as a parent are likely experiencing at each stage. The guides even offer ideas for other activities beyond using the toys themselves, helping educate a parent or caregiver on how to make interactions meaningful and beneficial for both parties. The bottom line Now, I'm not a doctor so I definitely suggest talking to yours before incorporating these toys into playtime. In my experience though, Lovevery makes wonderful toys and well-curated kits that my daughter loved playing with. But to my wife and I, they're more than that. They're developmental tools that greatly benefits the child and caregiver who's also engaged in a learning process. Join the conversation about this story »
We tried the Furbo dog camera that lets you monitor and play with your pet from afar — here's what it's like to use
With the Furbo dog camera, you can keep an eye on your dog when you're...With the Furbo dog camera, you can keep an eye on your dog when you're away from home using your smartphone. Not only is the Furbo a pet camera, but you can also toss treats to your dog and it has a clicker sound for reinforcing training. I consider this dog camera a great deal and plan to continue using it well into the future. Table of ContentsI'm familiar with most of the pet cameras currently on the market, but the Furbo dog camera is the first one I tried for myself. My sister and her husband recently came home to visit, and they left their French Bulldog Hemingway in the care of his sister. Both of them work demanding jobs with long hours, so they were using the Furbo dog camera to stay connected to their pup when they were away from home. Curious to see the product in action, I asked them to show me how it worked, and I played around with the app a little bit. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to try the Furbo dog camera for myself, I pounced on it. Before testing the Furbo dog camera for myself, I knew a couple of things about it: It was designed specifically with dog owners in mind, giving them the ability to check in on and interact with their pet when they are away from home. It is equipped with two-way audio and 1080p HD video capability as well as infrared night vision. It's compatible with Alexa, though this was not part of my testing. It enables you to toss treats to your dog by pushing a button on the smartphone app. It can help you reinforce your dog's obedience training with a clicker feature, and it has an indicator light that changes color to attract your dog's attention. I'm lucky enough to work from home, so my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, Archie, spends most of the day by my side. There are times, however, when I need to leave him home alone. He is fully housetrained and does well on his own for extended periods of time, but I still feel bad leaving him alone — that's why I came to love the Furbo dog camera. I can still keep an eye on him using the Furbo smartphone app and can show him some love by tossing him a few treats. What's in the box When I received my Furbo dog camera, I was pleased to find that the package was very simple and produced very little waste. The device itself was packaged securely in a minimalistic box along with the power adapter, a 7-foot USB cable, and the quick-start guide. In terms of construction, I found the Furbo to be very well-made. It seemed sturdy and had a wide enough base that it wouldn't be easily knocked over. The lid covering the treat storage compartment was secure but easy to remove and unlikely to fall out if the device tipped over. I also found the USB cable to be plenty long enough to plug the device in where I wanted it. Setup Overall, the Furbo dog camera was fairly easy to set up (in spite of a few hiccups), and I found the app very simple to use. I was able to download the app quickly from the Google Play Store and logging in was a breeze. After logging in, the app automatically searched for and paired with my Furbo via Bluetooth. The device originally connected to my Wi-Fi account quickly but, when it came time for setup, the connection failed several times before it began to work. As I was reviewing the setup guide again, I received an email from Furbo with troubleshooting suggestions and was able to reset the device and complete the setup. Before testing the camera, I completed Archie's profile in the app and adjusted some of the settings. Using a simple menu, I was able to adjust the video quality, turn the night vision on or off, set the time zone, adjust the volume, and toggle the Wi-Fi on and off. I was also able to record my own "Snack Call" for the device to play prior to shooting out treats. The treat-tossing function I opened the video feed and pressed the button to shoot out a treat. The Furbo dog camera played my recording then shot out four treats. Needless to say, Archie was immediately intrigued. The recording of my voice caused his ears to perk up and the mechanical noise of the treat feeder drew his attention. As soon as the treats were dispensed, he chased them down. I originally filled the hopper with the bag of Crazy Dog Train-Me treats that came with the unit. They are made with pork liver, barley flour, and whole ground potatoes, among other ingredients. They are small enough in size to fit through the hopper and they contain just 1.5 calories each. They are also corn-free and made in the USA. Unfortunately, Archie wasn't a fan of the flavor of these treats and I didn't like that the unit shot four treats out at one time. I ended up swapping them out for a handful of Archie's kibble. The audio and video quality After testing the treat-tossing feature, I played around with the app a little more to test the audio and video quality. Because I was in the same room as the Furbo at the time of testing, I noticed a slight lag in both audio and visual streaming. This lag is unlikely to affect the function of the device at all, however, since it is intended to be used from outside the home. I found that the Furbo dog camera can record up to 60 seconds of audio/video content and snaps pictures, which you can share via smartphone text message, email, or social media. The audio quality of the device left something to be desired, but that isn't a feature I intend to use heavily anyway. The picture quality was high, and the wide-angle lens allowed me to view the entire room, depending on where the unit was placed. The barking alert function Another feature the Furbo has to offer is the Barking Alert function. When the unit detects your dog barking, it sends a push notification to your smartphone. I wasn't able to fully test this feature because the only time Archie barks is when one of my cats is trying to eat from his food bowl. Based on other user reviews of the product, however, it seems that while the Barking Alert may be a useful feature it is a bit over-sensitive. If you find that to be the case, you can adjust the sensitivity of the feature or simply turn it off. The pros Specially designed for dog owners with input from thousands of dog parents, veterinarians, and professional dog trainers. Quick and easy to set up, connects to the smartphone app via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and sends real-time alerts and push notifications. Enables you to view video and hear audio both night and day when you are away from home to help you keep an eye on your dog. Has the ability to toss treats and has a clicker sound to use in reinforcing obedience training. High-quality construction and spill-proof design. Can be set up anywhere with a strong Wi-Fi connection. The cons Audio capability is fairly weak. Both the microphone and speaker could be of higher quality. Bark Alert feature could be overly sensitive. You may want to disable it or turn off the push notifications if you receive them too frequently. May not withstand heavy chewing if your dog knocks it onto the floor. Be careful where you place it to ensure stability. The device shoots out as many as 4 or 5 treats at once. Be careful to use low-calorie treats or switch to your dog's kibble if it is small enough. The bottom line Overall, the Furbo dog camera was well-designed and easy to use. While some improvements could be made to the audio quality and the sensitivity of the Barking Alert and treat-tossing features, both the device and the smartphone app are perfectly usable as they are. I was not disappointed by the Furbo dog camera, and I plan to continue using it well into the future. Whether you're seeking a way to keep an eye on your dog and ease his separation anxiety when you're away from home or simply looking for a fun way to interact with your pup, the Furbo dog camera is a great option. It may not be at the top of the list for things like audio clarity, but it is easy to set up, simple to use, and it gets the job done. Join the conversation about this story »
There are as many ways to store sex toys as there are types of sex toys,...There are as many ways to store sex toys as there are types of sex toys, and at the request of you, our beloved readers, in the upcoming weeks we’ll explore the different options that are available. Proper toy storage is an important part of sexual health—you should clean sex toys after every use, and then store them…Read more...