Thursday, December 8, 2016

Product Review: Tugaway Raccoon Reward Pouch

Zip thinks the Tugaway Raccoon Reward Pouch is the only thing worth getting excited about at agility class. This thoughtfully-designed toy has features a velcro treat pouch covered in soft fleece on one side, and a piece of real raccoon hide on the other. The handles are braided fleece with rope reinforcement inside.
Real fur agility tug toy
Photo by Erin Koski

I bought this tug toy for agility class, right before we took a break for several weeks. Sisci Godzilla is going back to basics for the new session, just because it fits my schedule better. Zip and I are doing baby beginner agility even though she has most of the foundation behaviors already. This is her very first class experience of any kind, ever!

Sometimes I forget what a big deal classes really are for dogs. Mine can do all sorts of wonderful things in my backyard, at work, or at the park. Put them in a new place with a bunch of other dogs and humans with varying concepts of manners and personal space, and it's a whole different game. Godzilla spent her first three agility classes stress sniffing and staring at everybody and everything. She was introduced with some agility obstacles, but mostly she just processed the general environment and became familiar with this new concept.
Jackpot treat pouch for dog training
Photo by Erin Koski
With this in mind, I had very low expectations for Zip's very first class ever. It was a very, very easy class, we worked on asking for and rewarding familiar behaviors, teaching our dogs to follow along on either side, tugging as a reward, and basic training concepts.

The first thing we started with was clicker training. Zip came to me terrified of clicking noises. We've slowly worked up to using a very quiet clicker as a marker for extremely exciting rewards. Half a dozen people popping noisy box clickers? Nope, nope, nope! We ended up taking a stroll while everyone else practiced their clicker skills.

Zip is not terribly food motivated, sometimes I think she eats the treats just to be polite. When the clicking stopped and we finally came back to class, she just sort of melted into the grass and couldn't engage with me. That was when I pulled out the Tugaway Raccoon Reward Pouch.
Dog toy with real fur and secret food pouch
Photo by Erin Koski

No exaggeration, Zip suddenly acted like a completely different dog. She's never seen this toy before, but she immediately became obsessed with it to exclusion of absolutely everything else in the park. From overwhelmed and shut down to focused and engaged in an instant.

Pros: Sturdy enough to handle a whole lot of tugging. The fur is attached very securely, more so than on our bunny bungee pouch. Secure treat pocket can be used to help motivate a dog that is less toy-motivated, or hold a squeaker. Two-loop design gives multiple option for holding the toy.

Cons: This is a shorter toy, so harder to keep your hands out of harm's way if you have an overly enthusiastic tugger. To get a choice of colors, you have to find a physical storefront and choose from their selection. I don't think Tugaway does custom colors.

Bottom Line: Tugaway is a home business in Wisconsin, and they care enough about their product to tell you exactly where the hides used in their toys came from, and what they were tanned with. Not only are their tug toys superior to everything else I've used, I also get warm fuzzy feelings when I give them my money. Go Tugaway!

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