Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Product Review: Patchwork Pet Pastel Caterpillar

Sisci Godzilla got this giant stuffed caterpillar from Patchwork Pet in her Easter basket. This thing is a huge 35" long, with a squeaker in each section. That's nine squeakers. It's fluffy, double stitched, and surprisingly durable. Patchwork Pet also makes a slightly more reasonable 20" version of the caterpillar, along with a bunch of other fun stuffies.
Giant stuffed caterpillar squeaky plush dog toy

I was totally unfamiliar with Patchwork Pet when I bought this toy. It caught my eye because it was giant, colorful, fluffy, and ridiculous. I figured the girls would shred in a day or two, I'd pick up all the stuffing, and that would be the end of it.

The caterpillar surprised me! It's way more durable than your average cheap stuffy. The girls dragged it around for weeks before it got so much as a hole. So far they've unstuffed the tail segment, and pulled the squeaker out of the head, but the caterpillar largely remains intact.
Giant 35" stuffed caterpillar dog toy


  • Comically large
  • Durable enough for playtime
  • Tons of squeakers


  • Won't survive a toy-shredder, dedicated unstuffer, or really wild play
  • Pastel color gets dirty really fast

Bottom Line:

Patchwork Pet makes some really high-quality BIG stuffed toys for dogs, and some really cute and clever cat toys, too. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for their products now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Treat Tuesday: Redbarn Rolled Dog Food

Redbarn makes both grain-free and grain-inclusive dog food rolls, this is their grain-inclusive lamb roll. I like using rolls as training treats because they are complete and balanced dog food, so I don't have to worry about filling up my tiny dog with things other than dog food. I can chop dog food rolls as tiny as I like, and each roll makes tons and tons of treats.

Good For:

  • Chopping into a zillion tiny training treats
  • Holding their shape and not crumbling
  • High-value training treats
  • Dogs with poultry, beef, wheat, egg, corn, lentil, or tapioca allergies

Not Good For:

  • Staying moist when exposed to air for more than a day
  • Dogs with lamb, rice, pea, or egg allergies
  • Diabetic dogs, all food rolls contain added sugar

How Much We Like Them:

This is currently my favorite food roll. It's not crumbly, it stays moist for a reasonable amount of time, it's easy to cut, and it doesn't go moldy when I forget it in the fridge for a week.,

Monday, May 29, 2017

Five Reasons to Use a Dog Stroller

I've always thought that pet strollers were for spoiled dogs, and crazy owners who refuse to let their small dog walk. Then I bought one for $5 at a thrift store. It turns out, there are more reasons to use a stroller than because you want your dog to be fat. Here are the ones I've discovered so far:

1. Your Dog Can't Walk 
Chihuahua in pink dog stroller
Spoiled, spoiled dogs.

A stroller is a fantastic way to include a dog with mobility issues on your adventures. Whether it's a senior dog that gets tired easily, or a young dog recovering from knee surgery, a pet stroller is a comfortable way to bring them along without overdoing it.

2. The Pavement is Hot

Summer is upon us, and so are all the warnings about the dangers of walking your dog on hot surfaces. How do you keep your pup's feet safe while you walk to the nice grassy park? Shoes are one option, a dog stroller is another.

3. It's Crowded

It's really easy to step on a tiny dog. While I hold a deep and abiding loathing for people who insist on wheeling any sort of human or dog stroller through serious crowds, I do see the value of using one of these things on visits to bustling downtown areas.

4. You Have a Baby Puppy

It's important to get puppies out and about to see the world before they finish their immunization schedule at 16 weeks, but you can't put them on the ground because pathogens like parvo can hang out down there for years. A stroller lets you take your pup around in a way that's comfortable for you both.

5. It's a Dog Crate on Wheels

This was my revelation, moments after sticking Ru in our thrift store stroller for the first time. I expected him to find it foreign and weird, but he just settled down immediately like it was a perfectly normal place for a chihuahua to be. The materials and construction are very similar to my fabric dog crates, it's just a different shape. With that discovery, I suddenly realized how convenient it could be to have a safe and secure mobile dog crate. I guess dog strollers aren't for crazy people after all!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Product Review: Rogz RFO Disc

The Rogz Flying Object is a soft foam disc that is easy to pick up. It comes in several bright colors, and it floats. The holes make it easy to get off the ground, unlike traditional frisbees. This is a surprisingly durable disc that is still soft enough for airborn catches.

Durable foam frisbee

We've been trying out some new discs in our post-tennis-ball lifestyle, and this one is definitely a favorite. It's made from tough but squishy foam, so when they bite it they leave punctures without tearing through the material.

The girls love to catch our competition discs, but I save the Heroes and Jawz Hyperflites for structured training sessions. The RFO is great for the park, or just noodling around the backyard. It's durable enough to withstand a good gnaw from Zip, which is essential for casual play around here.


  • Soft, safe to catch at high speeds
  • Easy for dogs to pick up off the ground after it lands
  • Floats
  • Durable enough for some gnawing


  • Does not fly as well as a regular frisbee
  • Only comes in 9" size, too big for some small dogs

Bottom Line

The girls don't get to play with this disc unsupervised, but I don't have to keep it locked up for fear they'll destroy it the moment I turn my back.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Treat Tuesday: Pure Balance Dog Food Roll

Walmart's fancy house brand, Pure Balance, offers a dog food roll. I love food rolls because I can chop them up into zillions of tiny training treats. These are formulated as a complete and balanced dog food, so I can stuff my chihuahua with them without worrying about spoiling his dinner. This particular brand is a bit squishy and tends to crumble when chopped up very small, but that seems to be the case with all the grain-free rolls I've tried. I would guess that it's produced by whomever makes the Blue Buffalo Wild Rolls.

Good For

Grain-free beef semi-moist dog food
  • Tiny training treats
  • High-value training treats
  • Dogs with poultry or grain allergies
  • Very picky little dogs

Not Good For

  • Daily feeding of large dogs
  • Dogs that need a high-fat an high-protein diet, these are packed with carbohydrates
  • Fast, easy training treats, you have to chop these up

How Much We Like Them

Enough to chop them up and use them as training treats. Food rolls are awesome!

That Vegan Sled Dog Study

Whilst researching daily dental dog chews, I found myself on the V-Dog website. As a former militant rawfeeder, I've never considered vegan dog food worth researching. I decided to check out their guaranteed analysis, and quickly determined that their foods do not contain nearly enough fat for my working dogs. Their FAQ page is really interesting, though. It cites a couple of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that definitely deserved a closer look.

Vegan Sled Dogs?

Distance-racing Alaskan sled dogs have an amazingly high metabolic rate and energy expenditure when working for extended periods in cold weather. They have been used in various experiments studying the effects of different parameters on performance, sometimes with surprising results. A study in 2009 on racing sled dogs is rather well-known, but it's worth pointing out that this experiment was done on purebred Siberian huskies doing sprint races in mild weather in Australia. The study compared blood test results between dogs that were fed a commercial meat-based performance diet, and those fed a diet with the same nutritional parameters but no meat. The experimental diet used soybean meal and corn gluten as protein sources. The dogs did fine on both diets, their performance didn't suffer and their blood parameters remained the same.

Nutritional Equivalence
Carrot-shaped durable chew toy
Photo by Erin Koski

This study is widely cited by purveyors of vegan dog foods, as evidence that dogs can be perfectly healthy without consuming animal products. I don't have a problem with that claim, but I do have a problem with the vegan dog food choices out there, and how they compare to the foods used in the experiment. Essentially, the study proved that a specific meat-free diet was suitable, and the dog food companies like to cite it as evidence that all vegan dog foods are suitable.

Here's the details, for those that don't feel like fishing through the paper to find them. The commercial diet used was Pedigree Advance's formula for performance dogs. When I first read this paper I thought they must be using regular old Pedigree dog food in the big yellow bag, because that's the only food the company sells here in the USA. However, Pedigree actually sells much higher-quality products in other countries. The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, but the actual experiment took place in Australia. The Pedigree Advance product line sold in Australia includes and Active Adult formula that contains no by-products, and has 32% protein and 22% fat. This is a huge difference from the 21/10 food sold here.

The experimental meat-free diet used soybean meal instead of chicken meal. Both diets also used corn gluten, but the meatless diet had quite a bit more. Both diets were made in a commercial facility, with the nutritional analysis as similar as possible. Both diets contained 32% protein and 22% fat. That's a good ratio for active dogs, but it's not what you'll find in commercially-available vegan dog food on the market today. If you want to feed your dog vegan kibble, your options are 24/10, 18/8, 20/10, 22/8, or 17/8. There is no high-protein, high-fat vegan dog food out there. Clearly, vegan dogs are supposed to be sedentary housepets on extremely carbohydrate-heavy diets.

What about That Retrospective Study?

Another journal article widely cited by people advocating vegan diets for dogs was published in an MDPI public access journal. This is already slightly suspect, as the reliability of MDPI journals has been repeatedly called into question. Basically, they will probably publish anything if you pay them enough, and their peer review process may not be rigorous or thorough. With that in mind, the publication of this retrospective starts to make sense.

I have issues with nearly every section of this article. When discussing studies showing inadequacy of vegetarian pet diets, the authors are quick to point out that anything published more than ten years ago is likely out of date. However, when discussing the inadequacy of meat-based commercial diets, the authors freely cite papers from two and three decades prior with no such caveats.

The authors include information from such biased sources as the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, books by vegan authors, and even vegan websites. Much of this information has to do with the evils of meat by-products, which demonstrates a lack of ingredient integrity in very low-quality products rather than an inherent evil of meat-based pet food. Meat-based pet foods in the same price range as commercial vegan pet foods are almost certainly not going to contain any of these horrors anyway, so the whole issue is a bit of a red herring.

While the sled dog study mentioned above shows some compelling evidence that dogs can be healthy on a vegetarian diet, the retrospective study simply shows that there is very little conclusive information out there. What information does exist is from small-scale studies, extremely biased sources, or poor-quality studies like pet owner surveys. Decent-quality meat-based pet foods are fine. Well-researched vegan pet foods are also fine, as long as you don't mind feeding a low-fat, low-protein, carb-heavy diet. If you want to build muscle or maintain a working dog, you probably need to feed a meat-based food formulated for active dogs.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Product Review: West Paw Zogoflex Air Dash

West Paw's Zogoflex Air disc, Dash, is a frisbee that can handle some serious chomping and chewing. Made with their proprietary air-injected Zogoflex material, it's tough enough to handle independent dog play. This disc is soft to catch, and easy to pick up after it lands. It floats, is dishwasher safe, and is made in the USA. The Dash disc comes in three colors.
Durable floating soft dog disc
Our Zogoflex Wox toy is still going strong after being fetched an infinite number of times, so I thought a Dash disc would be a good addition to our collection of safer toys.

Unlike most of our discs, this one is durable enough to be used as a chew toy, so it's not just for interactive play. It's also soft enough for the girls to catch in midair without hurting their mouths.
Sisci Godzilla can easily pick this toy up after it lands, she has trouble with regular discs. The Dash floats, and you can keep it clean by sticking it in the dishwasher, which I am totally going to test out in the near future.

West Paw has a really cool recycling program where they accept old and damaged toys. They process these into more toys, so the chewed up bits don't end up in a landfill somewhere. They also guarantee their toys, so if your dog destroys something you can get a one-time replacement.


  • Durable enough for regular chewing
  • Soft and easy on mouths
  • Center hole makes it easy for dogs to pick up
  • Floats
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Recyclable
  • Made in the USA


  • Does not fly very well
  • Center hole makes a great place to begin chewing it into oblivion

Bottom Line

Zip really enjoys a good game of fetch, and then she settles down to give the disc a good gnaw. We've lost a number of toys that way, but it looks like the Dash disc can handle it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dog Tech: The May Smartcollar Update

It's time to check in with our favorite up and coming smartcollar products! Technological development is a rocky road filled with bumps and setbacks, and it's a rare product that gets released on time. How a company handles those setbacks says a lot about the people behind the product. The world of pet wearables is always growing, it's exciting to see what might be on the horizon!
Dog GPS wearable trackers

Whistle 2 - currently using

Our Whistle 2 tracker has been in use for 4 months now, and at this point it needs to be rebooted and freshly paired with the base nearly every time I charge it. The tracker often stops working when we are away from home, and the only way to make it start working again is to go home and mess around with the base station. Tech support is happy to explain how to reset everything, but fails to recognize that the constant need to do so presents a problem.

I did have occasion to use it to track Zip once, and it did indeed help me find her. On previous occasions, it was either unable to get a location, or I found her during the 10 minutes it took to get her location.

Whistle 3 - released!

Whistle 3 shipped out in February as expected! This new version of the tracker is smaller, lighter, and sends notifications faster. The company is doing a nice job of keeping on top of the PR machine, they have responded to every negative review on Amazon. The biggest downside to Whistle 3 is that it somehow isn't compatible with all WiFi routers, and the company recommends users with this issue just buy a new router. Wtf, Whistle?

Link AKC - released!

Link AKC was released in March, and it's not bad. It's just very new, and I don't think they beta tested it enough. The tracking is superior to Whistle. I really liked the idea of temperature alerts, but it kept alerting when my dog was in comfortable temperatures and definitely not laying on the device. I also really wanted the virtual leash feature, but again got many false notifications. I ended up returning this one because the single day of battery life was worrisome, and the tracker was beginning to show some wear and tear after only a couple of days.

Nuzzle - wtf?

I originally ordered three Nuzzle collars, hoping to use them for my dogs and maybe even the sheep at work. Unfortunately I had to cancel due to seriously shady behavior on the part of the company. They abruptly stopped communicating, censored everything remotely negative about their product, and blocked a bunch of users who pointed out that taking everyone's money without sending them a product for months is technically illegal. They finally started shipping this week, which is great news for the people that ordered back in 2015. Unfortunately, it looks like the features you get don't exactly match the features advertised. Temperature monitoring may or may not work, battery life is measured in hours not days, and tracking and boundary alerts are highly inaccurate. They've had well over a year to beta test this thing, but it appears they spent all the money on marketing instead.

Pod 3 - May/June 2017

Pod 3's release has been pushing from March to May or June of this year. I really want one, but Nuzzle has completely destroyed my trust in tech companies offering preorders. On the plus side, they're selling Pod 3 as a preorder right now, not as a finished and prepared product that just kinda won't be shipped for a few months.

Kyon - June 2017

Kyon has pushed their release date back to June of 2017. They've added more color options. With 30 days of battery life, and temperature monitoring, the only thing scaring me about this one is the $250 pricetag. This is another company that is being honest with their customers and selling their product as a preorder.

Scollar - August 2017

Scollar is still on track for release later this summer. This is more of a daily reminder collar for pets that stay at home, but it's still cool. 

Wuf - Fall of 2017?

Wuf has pushed their tentative release date back to fall of 2017. It's ok though, their website even has a disclaimer warning preorder people that the release schedule could change as Wuf is a product still in development. Nuzzle was not sold to me or anyone else as a preorder, despite being at roughly the same level of development.

Findster Duo - July 2017

This is one that I just learned about, a GPS tracker that includes a piece for the pet guardian to wear. Findster doesn't need monthly fee because the guardian piece communicates with both your phone at the pet piece. You can buy extra guardian and pet pieces for all the places, people, and pets in your life. I'm very excited about this one, but not enough to preorder it. Thanks again, Nuzzle.

Buddy - officially dead

The Buddy smartcollar's IndieGoGo page is now handing out refunds like candy. The project is officially dead, and the collar will not be released. Like most smartcollar crowdfunding campaigns, the backers were told they were funding the production phase of a working product instead of the development of a hypothetical collar that existed only in the campaigners' dreams. This has been the story of pretty much every pet wearable crowdfunding campaign to date, which means basically everyone who claims to have invented a smartcollar is lying about something. Buddy, DogTelligent, and Nuzzle have left me quite cynical indeed.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Product Review: Economy Center Ring Collar

Gun Dog Supply sells these 3/4" economy leather collars for $6. They come with a free engraved identification plate already riveted on there. The 3/4" collars come in three sizes to fit necks 11-19" around, the 1" version fits necks 12-24" around.
Economy center ring leather working dog collar
I'm not sure who makes these, but these are absolutely the best value collars I've ever seen. As far as I can tell, they last forever. The entire collar is cheaper than a good ID tag, so when your info changes you just buy new collars.

My experience with Gun Dog Supply's economy collars is largely at work, on the sheep ranch. There are tons of these kicking around, and I've never seen one fail. Some have been around for years and years and years. We've left them on goats for months at a time. The working dogs wear them through heavy brush, barbed wire, and dips in the water tubs. The collars stay on, they don't get caught on stuff, and the engraving stays readable.

 I have some leatherworking background that tells me these aren't the most high-quality collars on the market. The little roller buckles and tubular rivets are inexpensive, but they get the job done.


Add caption
  • Inexpensive
  • Super durable
  • Comes with free engraved ID plate
  • Low profile, minimal hardware reduces the chance of getting snagged on obstacles


  • Lack of extra keeper means loose end flops around if your dog is on the smaller end of the size range

Bottom Line

If you want an inexpensive collar that will never fade or stretch, and will last forever, this is your best bet.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Treat Tuesday: Carnibar

I bought this Carnibar by Tucker's Dehydrated Food for Dogs at one of my local pet stores, because it was new and different. Turns out it's basically a meal replacement bar for dogs. Not just any meal replacement, either. This thing packs a whopping 48% protein and 28% fat. That's awesome for highly active dogs burning tons of energy!
Dehydrated packaged meal replacement bar for dogs

Good For:

  • Backpacking trips, at 500 calories per bar this thing packs a ton of energy at half the weight of kibble.
  • High value training treats, especially since this is a complete and balanced diet so you can just make it their whole meal
  • Working dogs that need a high-protein, high-fat diet
  • Dogs with allergies to grains, eggs, beef, chicken, peas, potatoes, or tapioca

Not Good For:

  • Fat dogs
  • Dogs that cannot handle large amounts of fat in their diets
  • Dogs with pancreatitis
  • Dogs with allergies to pork, lamb, or pumpkin

How Much We Like Them

At around $3.50 each, I'm not going to be feeding these on a regular basis, however they are insanely useful for some things. I am definitely taking these on our next backpacking trip.

Monday, May 8, 2017

What is the Most Affordable Daily Dental Treat?

I recently posted about Bright Bites daily dental treats, which had me pondering the actual cost of feeding dental treats every day. Little things like that really add up! I love collecting data, so I took a tour of the major online retailers to see how much, or how little, it would cost to feed my dogs a daily dental treat every day.

The Criteria
Photo by Erin Koski

For the purpose of comparison, I chose to include only products that were both marketed and packaged for daily use. Though I can find many individually-wrapped dental treats at my local pet stores, I only included those that could also be purchased in a larger quantity. Few people are going to buy 30 individually-wrapped Bright Bites for the month, but plenty will buy four bags of 8. A company that sells a bunch of dental chews in one bag is definitely taking that "daily dental care" thing seriously.

I also chose to specifically compare products intended for a size range that included both of my girls. So most of these are labeled for medium or regular-sized dogs. Sisci Godzilla weighs 28 pounds, and Zip weighs 36 pounds.

The Results


The absolute cheapest dental chew marketed for daily use is Dingo Dental Sticks, at 17-cents each if you buy the bag of 48 sticks on Amazon. The next cheapest is Purina's DentaLife treats at 23-cents each if you buy the package of 40, followed by Pedigree DentaStix, Purina Beneful Healthy Smile Dental Twists, and Milkbone Brushing Chews, ranging from $0.33 to $0.41 per chew. Yes, these are all grocery-store brands, mostly made from by-products. I expected them to all be made in China, but surprisingly all but the Dingo treats are made in the USA.


Greenies makes the classic daily dental chew, before them I don't remember anything being marketed for daily use like that. Their price point is right in the middle of the pack at $0.81 per regular-sized chew in a package of 36. Bright Bites were slightly more expensive at #1 per chew, along with KaNoodles and Ilio TeethTreats.


Every time I see Cloud Star's Dynamo Dog dental chews I am horrified by the price. In the largest package sold, these things will set you back a whopping $2.31 per bone. Yes, they are grain-free and potato-free, but they would also cost $70 per month to feed on a daily basis. Yikes!


Pretty much all of the dental treats (with one freakishly expensive exception) are made from wheat, rice, potato, rawhide, or a combination of these. Many of the more affordable ones are made with chicken by-products as well. I decided beforehand that my personal standards for a dental chew product was that it had to be made in the USA without by-products. I expected the least expensive daily dental chew that met these standards to be somewhere in the middle of the price range. 

Nope! It's Pedigree DentaStix, the third from the bottom at $0.33 per chew. Made in the USA. No by-products. Crazy.

I was also very surprised to see Missing Link's Once Daily dental chew towards the cheap end of the spectrum. This product also contains a daily dose of Missing Link's skin and coat supplement, and somehow it's only $0.52 per chew. I had dismissed the idea of daily dental chews as being too expensive, but it looks like they can be surprisingly affordable!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Product Review: Orbee-Tuff Cosmos Sol

This Sol ball from Planet Dog's Orbee-Tuff Cosmos line is exactly the sort of large-diameter toy I needed for my ball fiends. This is a 5" ball that rates 5 out of 5 on their toughness scale. It is hollow, with a hole that allows it to drop treats. It's also recyclable, made in the USA, and 100% guaranteed. Can't go wrong with that!
Large 5" diameter durable dog ball

Sol goes along with Planet Dog's 4" Luna ball, 3" Ringo ball, and their recently added 2.25" Lunee ball. These are fabulously sciency, geeky dog toys that are made to last. Sol is really, truly enormous. It's also flexible enough for he girls to chomp and get into their mouths.

Both Zip and Godzilla are seriously ball-crazy. A recent choking incident made me realize that standard 3" balls were small enough to present a choking hazard. I picked up over a dozen tennis ball-sized toys around the house and yard. The girls still had plenty of plush toys and chew toys, but I could tell they were missing their balls. This one is big enough for me to feel safe throwing it.


  • Big enough for giant breeds
  • Really, really tough
  • Not a choking hazard unless your dog is enormous
  • Smells nice
  • Made in the USA
  • Guaranteed, so if your dog shreds it or hates it, Planet Dog will replace it


  • The hole in the ball allows very determined dogs to hook a tooth in and rip the ball apart
  • Some dogs can't fit it in their mouths

Bottom Line

I was looking for something that rolled nicely, was easy on the teeth, and couldn't fit down the throats of my 28 and 26 pound dogs. Sol fits that perfectly.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Product Review: Scratch 'N Squeak Ball Launcher

Scratch 'N Squeak sent us a Scratch 'N Squeak Ball Launcher, and it's everything I hoped it would be! It scratches, it squeaks, it launches tennis balls, and it does all of these things quite nicely. This is a tennis ball launcher with a squeaker in the handle, and grooming bristles on the back so you can give your dog a good brushdown after you play. It is currently available in three colors, and fits standard tennis balls.
Dog toy launcher with squeaker and grooming brush.

It Squeaks!

We've destroyed a lot of squeakers around here, so I had some concerns about this one. Sometimes they're just built flimsy, and they give out in a few squeaks. Happily, the Scratch N' Squeak contains a nice, hefty squeaker that won't just fall apart. 

Why put a squeaker on a ball launcher? Because some dogs aren't natural retrievers, and need a little encouragement to bring the ball all the way back. The squeaker can help keep you dog focused on you, and the game, instead of the awesome ball they just captured.

It Throws!

I've been launching tennis balls with the same blue Chuckit for 17 years now, so I was eager to compare the performance of the Scratch 'N Squeak. This one's a bit shorter and doesn't launch the ball quite as far, but it also works in my smallish yard and doesn't have to be stored like a piece of sporting equipment. 

Tog brush squeaky tennis ball launcher
The circular ball compartment means I can also pick up and launch other toys with it. The Dogegg works if I balance it right. The Wox flops nicely over the end.

 It Grooms!

If you've used a ball launcher and then not scratched your dog's back with it, you're probably doing it wrong. This one goes step further with grooming bristles along the back. You can have a nice game of fetch, and then brush some loose hair off your dog in the great outdoors where you wont have to sweep it up. 
Dog tennis ball launcher


  • Allows you to pick up and throw tennis balls and other 2.7" balls without touching their slobbery wetness
  • Tough and durable squeaker built into the handle for building excitement
  • Brush bristles allow for a quick groom while on the beach or at the park
  • Long enough to throw balls a long way, short enough to fit comfortably in a bag or backpack
  • I am significantly less likely to whack people nearby with this thing (may not be true for everybody)


  • Currently only launches standard tennis balls, large and small sizes are not out yet.

Bottom Line

I love the amount of innovation that went into designing the Sns launcher. It was clearly developed by people who used existing products and went, "you know what would make this even better?" We haven't been doing much with standard tennis balls lately after learning about some unfortunate choking incidents, but I am thrilled to know that a large size is in the works. I can't wait to see this product in stores!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Is the Nuzzle Collar a Scam?

I've been an enthusiastic supporter of Nuzzle and their incredible smartcollar for a few months now, but things have changed and I am now seriously concerned that the whole thing is a big scam. Is the Nuzzle collar really as great as they claim? Can it really do everything advertised? Is the company being honest with their customers. In a word, no.

Open and Honest

In the beginning, everything looked great. The Nuzzle collar sounded amazing. It was going to have highly accurate GPS tracking, alerts when your dog left a specified safety zone, a virtual leash to let you know when your dog strayed too far, activity monitoring, and temperature alerts. 

It was the temperature alert feature that really got my attention. Still, I had some questions, so I reached out to the Nuzzle team. I ended up spending an hour on the phone with one of the developers. By the end I was convinced this was going to be the greatest smartcollar, the yardstick by which other smartcollars would be measured. 

When I ordered my collars in January, the shipping date given was in February. When that date rolled around, I received an email explaining how a manufacturing flaw was going to delay shipping by a couple of weeks. We were given a very specific timeline as to when they would be leaving the factory. The collars were supposed to ship out on March 13th.

Hiding Something?

The promised shipping date came and went, and eventually we got an extremely vague update. There were some minor software issues that needed to be addressed, but the team was working hard to get them fixed and would give us a shipping date as soon as they were able.

That was well over a month ago. No details or further updates have been given. Attempts to contact the company have been met with either generic responses that they would be shipping within a week or two, or no response at all.

Sell, Sell, Sell!

Look, I understand that product development is a rocky road. I understand that Nuzzle is supposed to be breaking new ground. What I don't understand is why they continue to aggressively promote their product when they have yet to ship any of them to anyone beyond their original IndieGoGo backers. They are busily doing giveaways and sweepstakes. They are aggressively advertising on social media. They still have not shipped a single collar.

Most disturbing is the prominent claim on their website that "new orders ship in approximately ten days". That claim has been up for weeks. Multiple people have messaged the company via Facebook, asking them to remove this blatant falsehood from the website, but it remains up. Nuzzle is lying to sucker in new customers, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying.

Nothing But Disappointment

The limited reviews available from the original product backers reveal some disturbing details about the Nuzzle collar. You won't see those on the website though, as the company is heavily censoring both reviews on their own site and any negative comments on their Facebook page. They don't currently appear to have a lot of audience engagement on social media, aside from angry customers asking where the collars are.

Fortunately, the company cannot censor the Amazon reviews for the product, which are universally bad. The battery doesn't even last one day, the boundary notifications are a joke, and the temperature monitoring was an outright bogus claim. The comments from the IndieGoGo backers aren't any better. The Android app has nothing but bad reviews, and the iTunes store isn't much better.

Buyer Beware

I finally asked for a refund for the three collars I ordered when the social media team spent an entire week claiming there would be an email update with a shipping timeline either "today or tomorrow". That was over a week ago. There is still no update.

They delete negative comments on their Facebook page very quickly, but if you're quick you can read some before they delete them. Some people placed their orders and gave Nuzzle their money well over a year ago. To date, nobody has received a Nuzzle collar except the original IndieGoGo backers.

The Nuzzle website and Facebook are designed to deceive you into thinking you are buying a finished product that is all ready to ship. When I bought mine, I believe I was just waiting for the manufacturing process to be complete. However, it turns out that Nuzzle is still very much a product under development. It is by no means a finished product. It is not a functioning smartcollar. 

When you give this company your money, you are not purchasing a smartcollar, you are funding product development for a project that may never be finished. Like Buddy and DogTelligent, this amazing dog tech project appears to be slowly sinking. If you purchased a Nuzzle collar, I advise you to get a refund quickly before the company goes under. No matter how much you want a Nuzzle collar, please be aware that it is, in fact, too good to be true.