Is Barkbox worth it?
Let’s review the BarkBox. There's a special bonus today: for each new subscriber to BarkBox who clicks through our link, the Barkbox company will donate a free BarkBox to an animal shelter in need at no extra cost to you. Sweet!
Downstay is not compensated for our review but we are pumped to facilitate more fun toys making their way to surrendered dogs, so please use our link.
BarkBox is the leading subscription dog swag company right now. They advertise that once a month you will receive a curated, themed box of 2 toys, 2 bags of treats, and a chew for your little hairball. Usually there is also a charmingly-printed decorative paper, a simple activity for small humans (or fun but bored adults), and a single-panel comic printed on the inside of the box to make you smile. There’s also an onslaught of dog-related puns that will make you grimace and chuckle simultaneously. If you are uncomfortable with a little poop humor, well, get ready for discomfort. Finally, there is often some kind of invitation to photograph your beast enjoying his or her BarkBox and post it to Twitter or Instagram.
The themes are charming--there’s no denying it. Your dog won’t care, but it’s fun for you. The toys are fantastic. We love the variety of sounds and textures for mentally stimulating your dog. We also like that the toys are exceptionally well-made and rugged. If your dog doesn’t like any of the toys, BarkBox will send you another one at no cost if you shoot them an email. We liked that a lot, although we’ve only used that option once. BarkBox also has a “super chewer” option that you can opt for, where they will send hard rubber and rope toys rather than the plush ones. This is great for dogs who gut their toys in an instant or who can’t be trusted not to eat bits of fabric or stuffing.
If you have kids, they will be pumped for the BarkBox every month too. In fact, the themed toys are so cute, you’re going to have to remind your young children that the toys are for the dog. The noisemakers inside the plush toys are so tantalizingly fascinating to young kids that the toys might get a little “help” being torn apart.
And BTW, self-rewarding behaviors are some of the most difficult to curb. That's some Ph.D.-level animal behavior/parenting humor right there.
BarkBox does their best to send treats that are inoffensive to humans in terms of odor and texture, and they will accommodate any allergies. Their nutritional value is acceptable as an occasional treat and they’re not packed with sugar, and always made in the USA or Canada. The treats are dry to the touch and usually have a pretty inoffensive odor. However--animal behavior secret right here--dogs like gross things, so these probably won’t be “high value” treats for your dog. On the bright side, these treats encourage the less dog-savvy in our midst to reward the dog for good behavior when otherwise they might not reward at all. The rest of us will continue to go on walks with pockets full of moist, floppy pieces of meat.
We give the chews a solid “meh”. We applaud BarkBox’s creativity when it comes to chews, as they have sent all manner of items that we’ve never encountered before or since. All of them were nutritionally acceptable to us as a one-time nom. Again, not too stinky for those of us who can't take our dogs' funkbreath. Most of the chews would be more accurately described as "slightly more challenging treat item", as our dogs ate each one in about 90 seconds.
But let’s talk cost. If you sign up for a year, as of 2017, each box is $31. Hold on to your hats while we do some hardcore maths here: 2 toys at $8 apiece plus 2 bags of treats at, let’s say $7 apiece, plus a $4 chew. That’s $34 dollars for what you get each month plus adorable extras. BarkBox must be aware of these economic considerations, as a one-time BarkBox shipment will cost you--you guessed it--$34. So each month you could save $3, and instead of spending time buying crap made in China at your local pet store, you can use that time to hug it out with your pooch while some high-quality made in USA swag makes it’s way to your door. However, if you don't want all of the items in the box, you're better off buying only the parts you like. If you’re not the subscription type, you can buy individual items in the Barkshop instead.
So our recommendation is this: if you have a dog that loves his toys to death or who needs lots of toys lest he reduce your home to a pile of splinters, we recommend BarkBox for you. If you have some expendable income and would love a fun surprise for your family and your dog to enjoy together, we recommend BarkBox for you too--BarkBox will put a big fat smile on your face every month. However, if you don't want the treats or the chew--you only give raw treats or whatever--you're better off ordering some nice toys from the BarkShop and skipping the subscription.
What's your experience with BarkBox? Have you tried any other similar subscription services for your companion animal? Tell us in the comments!