Monday, March 21, 2011

JW Pet Co's Cuz: A Life Saver For An Anxious Dog

   Sorry in advance for the long review, but I write a great deal about Cassie and her exploits and thought for a change I would bring you up to speed on Tobey!  This is the story of how a simple toy, the JW Pet Co Cuz saved Tobey from himself.

   Tobers is a four year old Min Pin/Rat Terrier mix (we think) who came to my parents at about four months old.  Before he was picked up by the local animal squad it's believed that he spent much of his life, as my mother puts it with a pouty face, "on the mean streets."  As a result of this harsh upbringing, he came with some very significant guarding and aggression issues (not great in a house that at that time had two other dogs) that we have worked very hard to get him through.  In the beginning he was always tense, almost on a razors edge even when he was sleeping and would easily become fixated on guarding places, food, toys and people.  With some positive reinforcement and handling training and some exercise he has come a long way.  He still has a few grumpy moments, but his real 'problems' have pretty much disappeared, especially now that he's the only dog at my parents'.

   When he moved in it was also difficult to teach Tobey to play.  He was (and still is) very food motivated, so teaching tricks was easy, but really playing with him was hard to even get started.  I found he liked to chase balls, but was not happy to bring them back.   People often don't realize when they adopt a shelter dog that many have missed out on those important weeks of puppyhood where they learned things like socialization, sharing and yes, even play! This is no excuse not to adopt an older dog, but still an important factor to keep in mind.  Many shelter dogs will need some help learning the basics of what we consider 'doggie-hood.'

    My mother, for instance, was very sad that Tobey was not acting like a 'normal' dog and determined to find a toy he would like.  After some tennis balls and soft toys (which he liked to sit on), she brought home a red Cuz that came to be known as Tobey's friend.  This one toy would, in my opinion, go a long way to helping Tobey overcome not only his guarding issues, but his general day-to-day rubberband-like tension.

   It started out simply enough.  We gave him the toy and treated him for sniffing it and then picking it up.  After a little while we took it out back and gave it a toss and off he went as if it were a tennis ball.  We stood there watching him run like a shot in the direction the Cuz had disappeared and then started across the yard after him ready to lure it away with a treat when he ran off with it.   To our surprise a great squeaking could be heard and from the other end of the yard Tobey came charging with the Cuz in his mouth giving a squeak with each stride.   He loved it!  When he reached us I quickly pulled out a treat and as he opened his mouth I said: "Drop it" and placed the treat in his mouth.

  From that moment he wouldn't let the Cuz go...he raced around the house by himself squeaking the Cuz as he ran, he would chase the Cuz when we threw it for him and bring it back.   Interestingly, he would even lie on his blanket and just squeak the Cuz with his eyes closed.  I wish I had pictures of this, but sadly I don't.   The Cuz did more than give Tobey an outlet for his nervous energy (though that did help I'm sure), it's hard rubber had just enough give to make squeezing it pleasurable.  As when people who are stressed grind their teeth, nervous or anxious dogs often carry a lot of pent up energy in their jaws.  T-touch massage techniques teach you to massage the anxious dog's jaws by holding thier heads or using a circular motion, but for Tobey (who didn't like people touching his face), chewing on the ball seemed to relieve his anxiety.  The Cuz acted as a self-soothing device and allowed Tobey to see that when he was more relaxed the world wasn't such a scary place!

   He has gone through many Cuzes since that first one and now doesn't really need to use it that much, though he still loves it.  Since then he has learned to love other types of play as well and I am thinking about starting him at home with some agility training very soon.   He's very smart and still super fast!

  Though this is a great story it's not much of a review, so here you go:

   The Cuz, like most JW Pet Co toys is very durable.  The hard pliable rubber is a joy for dogs to chew, but seems to outlast even the strongest chewers I've seen!  Cassie has a few of these types of toys and they have lasted well over a year.  With Tobers, his first Cuz lasted about a year before the squeaker fell out inside of the Cuz and a new one had to be purchased.  We've since bought him two others and the squeaker always seems to be the fail point.   They bounce very well and because of the odd shape and the feet at the bottom the bounce is unpredictable, making the dog have to think while they are chasing it.  The squeaker is the best part; it gives a loud and satisfying sound that seems to drive the dogs crazy!

  Cuzes come in a variety of sizes (S,M,L) and colors, including: red, green, purple and yellow/orange.  They also come in both a Good Cuz  (no-devil horns) and a Bad Cuz (with devil-horns)...Tobey started out with the Bad Cuz, reflecting my mother's feelings at that point in his life and now has two Good Cuzes.   You can buy a Cuz at Petsmart, Petco, Amazon or many other places online from between $5-$10 depending on size and style.   They're a great foundation to JW Pet Co's squeaky toy line from which many other shapes can be purchased, even a Cuz with a fluffy tail!  Overall, a stimulating alternative to a boring old tennis ball and one that will last for ages!


  1. We have several of the cuz and bad cuz balls and love them as well. :)

  2. Is there any way a dog could chew the feet off the bottom and swallow them? I would get Riley one but I don't want her swallowing the feet.

    Oh, and Riley's birthday Wubba is still completely in tact in the backyard! She's just been shaking it and chasing it. She has been chewing on her blue one because we brought it inside to give her something to do while Chloe's been on crate rest.

    Thanks so much for the birthday wishes for Riley!! :)

    Elyse and Riley

  3. What a good story. Mr. B doesn't play much...I wonder if it's for the same reason. Though he really does love his huge stuffie bones.

  4. Thanks for the review! We have a nervous tennis ball chomper here and I'm always looking for an alternative to the tennis balls. I've always love the look of the Cuz, but never really heard good or bad thing s about it before. Are they made in the USA? I'm kind of a stickler for that and just learned there are no more tennis balls made in the USA anymore. How sad.

  5. ForPetsSake, I know that JW Pet Co's Megalast brand is made in the USA and JW Pet Co is a US company (located in NJ), but I'm having trouble tracking down the place of manufacture for the rest of their products (including the Cuz). I'll keep searching and update you if I find anything! If needs be I'll just write to company! Good question!

  6. ForPetsSake, I just got an email back from JW Pet Co. Here is what they had to say:

    Dear Jessica,

    Thank you for your interest in JW Pet Company products. The Cuz is manufactured in China and tested in the U.S. Our entire line of rubber dog toys are made of 100% natural (non-toxic) rubber infused with vanilla extract. Every toy is designed to be sensitive to the health and well being of the pet.

    Best regards,

    Barbara Palermo

  7. Elyse, Cassie has had these and has never been able to chew through them! The rubber is really strong. Even though Cassie has carried hers around for ages there is not so much as a tooth mark! I think Riley would be fine.

  8. Aw, what a great story about Tobey. I think that's a very good point about shelter dogs not knowing all of the finer points of doggie-hood. I've definitely found that with Bella too.