Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Product Review: Huntboo Escape Proof Dog Harness

 I ordered the Huntboo Escape Proof Dog Harness off of Amazon as a mobility aid for my dog that broke her leg in December. After gloriously shredding a Ruffwear Flagline harness, I decided to save myself some cash by ordering the cheap off-brand version along with a giant donut cone to prevent future shredding incidents. How did it hold up?

Not very well. This harness is marketed as escape-proof due to the third strap that is intended to sit behind the ribcage to prevent the dog from backing out. It's basically a knockoff of Ruffwear's Web Master harness. The handle at the center of the back is intended as an aid to help your dog over obstacles on the trail, but it has a lengthy history being used for light mobility. The Web Master and Ruffwear's newer Flagline harnesses are a fantastic, durable option for dogs who don't need quite as much support as offered by a two-piece dedicated mobility device like the Help 'Em Up harness

But the Ruffwear harnesses retail for $60-$70. Two weeks into her healing process, Moon decided she was feeling a bit better and celebrated by ripping off her splint and shredding her Flagline harness. I could have ordered a new harness from Ruffwear and gotten all of their customer service and warranty value, but shipping would have taken well over a week and I was going to feel utterly ridiculous spending that much only to have another harness shredded. 

So I went with the cheap option and bought a $25 harness with two-day shipping from Amazon. I will say I got my money's worth. Right out of the package, I could tell I was working with a different level of quality. The straps on this harness are just sort of free-floating. The ends aren't sewed down, and can slide all the way through the buckles. Useful if I want to change out the buckle for some reason. Not so useful if I want to make sure it stays on my dog.

I was honestly expecting the straps on this harness to slide through the buckles more than they did. Especially when using it as a lifting harness, I genuinely expected it to loosen up right away. I did have to tighten the straps pretty regularly, but there was no catastrophic failure. The harness actually held up for the entire three months that Moon was in the cast. That is three months of continuous wear, since I was using it for mobility I left it on her. It was comfortable and didn't rub or cause any discomfort. 

That said, the harness barely made it three months and didn't exactly survive unscathed. The most obvious damage is to the top piece where Moon would occasionally scratch herself with a back foot. It was no excessive scratching by any means, but the harness started to fray right away. The damage so far only affects the top honeycomb fabric and currently appears to be cosmetic, but I question how well the harness would hold up long term after the first layer has been ripped apart. 

  • Affordable
  • Adjustable
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Supportive
  • Easy to fit
  • Comfortable for long-term wear on a fluffy dog, not sure about short haired dogs
  • Not durable
  • Straps need to be tightened regularly
Bottom Line

I got $25 worth of use out of this harness, but that's all. If I had invested in a higher-quality piece of equipment, I would have gear that I could use in the future or resell for a significant percentage of what I paid. 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Most Durable Dog Toys: All-Stars

 I started buying dog toys in the mid-1990's when I got my first dog. The only toy that I bought then that I still buy for my dogs now is the blue spikey Nylabone Flexichew. I think I have consistently had at least one in my house for at least 25 years. Need to actually make a post about those sometime. Anyway, I was just scrolling through a decade of blog posts here and started thinking about the toys that were featured there that are still kicking around my house all these years later. This is several dogs, several houses, and a cross-country move later, so these are toys with major staying power. I'm not counting toys that I have replaced later because I or the dogs liked them so much. Just the ones where the original toy photographed and purchased is still here.

Tuffy Pteradactyl: Pictured in this review of Mighty Dinosaurs from the same company, I've had this specific toy since roughly 2007. It's a bit worse for the wear these days because it is quite popular, but it is easily the most durable stuffed dog toy I have personally experienced.

Blue Kong: I bought a few of these at once and then never again, so the ones laying around the house right now are the same ones I reviewed back in 2014. Apparently they last a while.

PetProjeckt Dogegg: Very stained and no longer squeaks after 9 years. 

Budy Buddy Booya: See above. Both relegated to the basket of ugly old toys we keep outside these days.

Tuggo: This hard plastic ball with a rope through it has been living in my yard since 2016. It gets dragged around quite a lot. The rope remains in decent shape and the toy is fully functional.

Starmark Treat Dispensing Looper: Has been tossed, carried, and attacked by litters of puppies with the ferocity of fluffy piranhas. Nobody has ever tried to give it a good gnaw though, maybe the shape makes it less chewable?

Original GoughNut: Another testament to the staying power of ring-shaped toys.

Planet Dog Diamond Plate Ball: Unless it has fuzz, balls are for fetching rather than gnawing around here.

West Paw ZogoFlex Air Wox: I think I got the first one at SuperZoo 2016. This is probably the toy that has seen the most mileage and the most playtime. A huge variety of dogs have had consistent access to it for the last 8 years and it is still holding up beautifully. This one probably deserves its own post too.

StarMark Bob-A-Lot: It's tough to clean so I don't trot it out that often. This is a puzzle toy that isn't just out for free play all the time, but I first reviewed it here almost a decade ago so it gets an honorable mention.

Ruff Roots Dog Chew: Currently one of our outside toys. I have no idea why this toy is still here because nobody has ever seriously played with it. I should have tossed it years ago. I think I keep hoping some dog will fall in love with it.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Fill a Bunch of Kong Dog Toys Fast

 Do you use a lot of frozen stuffed Kong or other food toys? Are you still filling them individually? You are definitely missing out. I have an ever-changing horde of dogs these days, ranging from puppies to seniors. There is often someone on cage rest or needing some extra enrichment, so stuffed Kongs are still my first choice for frozen licky entertainment. (That reminds me, I need to make a post about why I don't use lick mats.) 

I know West Paw's Toppl toy is becoming the new food favorite for the high-end dog snob crowd, and I have a couple of those as well, but I am still Kong fan for a couple of reasons. The first is durability, the reason I own two Toppls is because West Paw is wonderful and sent me the second after one of my dogs ripped a chunk out of the first. The second reason I prefer Kongs is price, with availability coming a close third. A large classic red Kong is currently $14 retail through sites like Chewy, and can also be purchased at a lot of big stores that have a pet department including Target and Tractor Supply. A large Toppl toy cost $25 and can only be found at pet-specific stores, and I'm not even sure it can be found at very major pet retailed. Do both Petco and PetSmart currently carry them in-store? I don't actually know anymore, I now live in the middle of nowhere and Tractor Supply and Walmart are pretty much it.

Anyway, I own a ridiculous number of Kong toys of various colors and shapes, and I know that filling them can be time-consuming and obnoxious. I used to use a baby spoon to scoop filling into each one individually. I no longer have time for that. What is the fastest method to fill a bunch of food toys fast? The pastry bag method. Not only is it fast, it is also very easy, makes minimal mess, and ha zero cleanup. Ready?

1. Find a container to set all your food toy in. They need to sit upright. I use a plastic storage bin from a discount store like Pic-N-Save. But it's not Pic-N-Save anymore, is it? It's Big Lots. Metal dog bowls can also work, or tupperware, or a cardboard box. No need to get fancy. Ideally you should have freezer space to slide your entire container in, but I won't judge if you need to stick the toys into nooks and crannies among your frozen foods either. I've been there too,

2. Gather your toy fillings. I typically use some combination of canned pumpkin, Greek yogurt, canned dog food, and peanut butter. It's ok to use the canned dog food with the chunks. You want your filling to be pretty thick, so it doesn't leak out before it freezes. You can get extra fancy and add in chunkier things like green beans and other veggies if your dog will eat them. You could even puree everything together in a blender or food processor, but that makes more cleanup.

3. Get a gallon-size resealable bag, Ziploc or whatever brand, and dump all your fillings in. Seal that bad boy, and start mooshing. Squish your filling goodies together as much or as little as you like. If there is something your dog doesn't particularly like, smoosh it together a bit more to get a good mix. If they like everything, maybe mix it a bit less so it's like that swirly ice cream with the two flavors together.

4. Cut off the corner of the bag, and pipe that goodness into your dog toys like a pastry chef. When you're done, toss the bag in the trash and stick your toys in the freezer. 

Did you know that you can stick all those toys in the dishwasher to get them clean? Kong and West Paw toys and natural rubber dog toys in general are dishwasher safe. I finally have a dishwasher so I am no longer scrubbing every food toy. Between the dishwasher and the pastry bag filling method, we have food toys down to a science. Maximum efficiency.