The minute I knew we would be getting a puppy, I went full-on into buying mode. I’d like to say this was me being practical - puppies need a lot of things, from a crate for sleeping to teeny tiny collars and leashes and their own special food - but I can’t pretend that signing our family up for a BarkBox subscription wasn’t one of the more “fun” options on the long list of practical buys I was making. I’d seen friends posting about their BarkBoxes countless times on social media, but up until the fall of 2020 with the impending arrival of our own pandemic puppy, I hadn’t had a good enough excuse to sign up for a subscription. With a rambunctious corgi pup running through my living room and more than six months of this subscription under my belt, let’s look at what I really like about BarkBox and what I wish they would change.
6 Things I Like About BarkBox
1. The Complexity of BarkBox Dog Toys
Corgi puppies are known for being smart and their need to be challenged, and BarkBox toys are more than up for the job. Instead of filling the boxes with simple stuffed animals that can be ripped apart in minutes, each box includes an array of options to keep my puppy entertained. Sure, there are some straight up stuffed toys, but there are typically puzzle toys too, and features such as crinkling or the ability to stuff a treat inside that ensure my dog spends more than 5 seconds tearing through her new toy.
2. The Creativity of the BarkBox Themes
Like most subscription boxes, BarkBox themes every box . We’ve received licensed character themed boxes like Space Jam (with a mini Lebron James!) or Peanuts, as well as boxes themed around holidays like Valentine’s Day or something more generic like breakfast. Technically it’s not the themes they choose that impresses so much as how BarkBox executes on those themes. That breakfast box, errr... Barkfest in Bed box, cracked me up with toys like a “Frenchie omelette” and “Fresh squeaked OJ” — a crinkly toy shaped like an orange juice container with a little orange tennis ball that could be popped into the center. The thoughtfulness of crafting the toys to fit the theme while also serving a dog’s needs is appreciated, and frankly can be downright hilarious.
3. The Quality of the BarkBox Toys
Have you ever seen a dog toy that tells you when it’s time to be thrown out? I hadn’t… until my puppy chewed through a set of “playing cards” from her The Great Barkini’s Magnificent Magic Box earlier this year. The folks at BarkBox had printed a message telling my family it was time to dispose of the now destroyed toy. It was so simple, and yet one of those signs that BarkBox puts a significant amount of time and energy into making their toys. We’ve been so impressed with how well they stand up to our destructive doggo, that we’ve even grabbed a few BarkBox toys from the store shelves at our local Target, in addition to our monthly box!
4. The Instructions
I know, I know- dogs don’t read instructions. And they really don’t care to listen to them half the time either. But BarkBox includes a “manual” of sorts in each box that describes the toys, letting you know if there’s a surprise inside or ways to engage your pup with the toy. The Great Barkini’s Box, for example, taught me a “card trick” I could teach my dog with the goodies in my box!
5. The Personalization Factor
Personalizing subscription boxes to the subscriber is the mark of a good box, and BarkBox asks you questions about your dog to make sure they match the goodies to your pup. In addition to supplying my dog’s name, I was also asked about her birthdate, weight, gender, breed, and whether or not she had any allergies. Since she’s a corgi, my puppy was put in the “small dog” category, and we’ve noticed that the toys we get each month are all on the smaller side, which is perfect for her little mouth.
6. The BarkBox Cost
I first signed up for a six-month subscription with an extra toy added to the box each month (and have since re-upped for another six months), and with my multi-month discount I pay about $32 per month. For that price, my puppy gets three brand new toys, two bags of treats, and a stick chew, and shipping is included. Break that down further, and that comes down to about $5 per item (give or take a few cents). That’s really right on par with, if not less expensive than, buying dog toys from a pet store. And I don’t have to leave my house to get them!
2 Things I Don’t
1. BarkBox Treats
When you sign up for BarkBox, you automatically get a mix of toys and dog treats. That’s the deal. And don’t get me wrong, my puppy, and her older siblings, love the treats packed inside every month’s BarkBox. Aside from a package of “oinky rolls” that my corgi turned her nose up at (but my older dogs gobbled down), the dogs in my house have had nary an issue with the treats being delivered.
But as a dog owner, I am also highly aware that my breed tends to have obesity issues, so we’re extremely limited in how many treats we dole out. Even our older dogs get very few treats, as one has hip dysplasia and needs to be kept trim to reduce weight on her hips and the other is extremely food motivated. I realized this is specific to my home and my dogs, but I truly wish BarkBox offered a treat-free subscription option or at least let you choose the types of treats you want each month.
2. The BarkBox Add-On Process
Want to add on to your BarkBox before it’s delivered with some cool new toys or doggies supplies from BarkBox? You can… but unlike other subscriptions that shoot you an email to let you know that it’s time to check out add-ons, BarkBox expects you to remember and log into their system to make your add-on choices. That’s probably great for some people who don’t like getting their email box clogged with additional notices, and I can certainly see that it’s a good thing for people who just want the basic box — no add-ons necessary. But I don’t have the best memory, and I’d love a little reminder each month to go check out the goods!
Curious about BarkBox? Here's a little more about how it all works:
The Subscription Box: BarkBox
The Cost: Boxes start at $35 per month + free shipping to the contiguous US (add $8 for shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or Canada). Save with longer subscriptions.
The Products: Toys, treats, and grooming products perfect for your dog based on their size.
Are you a BarkBox subscriber? We want to hear what you love... and what you aren't so fond of!