Friday, August 5, 2011

Cover Your Ears! Kong's New Squeezz Line

   Wandering around PetSmart the other day I decided it would be fun to take advantage of their recent rash of sales.  The problem was there just isn't a lot of new stuff and I couldn't really think of anything we needed.  I turned out to be mistaken on both counts, as there was something new that we, of course, had to try:  Kong's new line of Squeezz toys.

     I'm very fond of Kong as a brand, but have in the past been a bit harsh on their overall durability (especially when they venture out of their traditional red rubber realm).   However, I inspected these pretty throughly and thought they were worth a try!  They're made of a transparent non-toxic thermo plastic rubber and come in a variety of shapes (balls, sticks, dumbells, rings, bones), sizes and colors, all of which come with squeakers and have a nice strong, but bendy quality.

Demon dog and her stick
     Cassie is very fond of the squeaky toys from JW Pet Co (the chickens are her favorite), but the Kongs came in such nice sizes and colors.  On top of that the Kong Squeezz's have a quality I look for in toys that's a bit hard to describe.  The best I can do is to call it "bite resistance."  I'm not talking about durability here, though that is very important too.  By "bite resistance" I mean the amount of give a toy has to allow the dog to bite down and derive pleasure from that chewing sensation, without the toy falling apart.  There must be a technical term, but when picking up a toy (especially rubbery ones) I always give it a squeeze to feel how much give the material has behind it.  Too much give or "bite resistance" and the toy is no more fun to play with than your average rock (and it probably won't bounce well either).  Your dog will most likely loose interest and you've wasted your money. Not enough "bite resistance" and the toy will be too prone to damage and not provide your dog with that real pleasurable sensation that dogs take from biting and chewing.  It's something I think Kong has always been really good at getting correct in the past with such lines as their tennis-ball material Kong Air Squeakair toys.

    With their new Squeezz line they get the "bite resistance" balance spot-on!  Another thing they got right was the squeak-factor.  The squeakers are actually buried inside the body of the toy, which makes me feel safer, but this also seems to produce the most joyous, gleeful squeak I've ever heard!  Cassie seems to agree.  I selected the large stick for Cassie (due to her size and bite strength).  I figured we don't need another ball and a stick would make it like we were playing a good-old-fashioned game of fetch (she normally gets real sticks taken away).   She loved it!  She ran like mad first around the house and then around the yard happily skipping and flipping the Squeezz stick in the air and thoroughly enjoying the sound it produced as she chewed on the trot!  As a play-by-yourself-for-awhile toy it was a great success.

   I do have some reservations about these toys though.  Firstly, the sticks (and other longer shapes I tested) don't seem to bounce much when thrown.   I tested the stick indoors on hardwood and carpet and outdoors on grass and decking...a dull thud was pretty much the best that could be expected (I managed to catch the best one on video).   This shape certainly doesn't, as Kong claims, "causes [a] fun, erratic bounce."  Well, I should be fair and say it doesn't create a big bounce, but rather nobbles around for a second on the ground.  It was a bit of a let down for our game of fetch...though I guess real sticks don't bounce much either.
Hard to see recessed squeaker
    The other area for some worry is that (once again) I'm not entirely confident about the toys durability.   Care should be exercised any time that you give a pet a be-squeakered toy, as those little noise makers are just too easy to dislodge and swallow.   Though Kong points out the toys have a "protected recessed squeaker," I'm always a bit cautious.   So far, Cassie's not succeeded in so much as scratching the Squeezz stick.  I did, however, also buy one of the Squeezz dumbbells for the infamous Guinness after his Hol-ee Roller escapade  and it had to be taken away from him fairly quickly as the damage ensued (he's a toy monster to be fair)!

     The Kong Squeezz line ranges in price from $3-9 depending on size, shape and where you buy your toys (available at Petsmart, Petco, Amazon, etc).  For most dogs they will be a load of fun and should remain very durable.  The squeakers do appear very well encased within the body of the toys and should prove difficult for  a dog to remove and even more difficult to swallow.  Kong's really got it right with these toys and I think from the video you'll be able to tell that the only thing that these toys are lacking are ear plugs!  That's some squeak!