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!

9 comments:

  1. Hmmm...I'll keep my eyes peeled for some sales on the stick around here. Riley has had a couple of different rubber sticks in the past (can't even remember what brands, but not Kong) and she chewed them apart in a matter of minutes. She's a nut. She also pulverizes real sticks, so unless we find an extra huge one, they don't last long either. She loves stick-like shapes though!

    We had cut off about 2 feet of a somewhat small in diameter (maybe 1 inch or 1.5 inches) PVC pipe that has lasted us forever, but it's so hard that I'm afraid she'll either break her teeth on it or get impaled with it, so we stopped playing with it. I actually just finally pulled it off the top of our grill and threw it in the garbage can earlier today.

    Anyway, I've rambled on...sorry! I know you've said you don't use seat belts with Cassie, you use a crate instead in the car, but I was wondering which seat belts you've tried in the past with her? I purchased the CHAMPION seat belt system after doing loads of research and reading good reviews of it. Overall I'm pretty happy. I can tether it to the car seat hooks in my cargo area (I have a "sports wagon" Pontiac Vibe) and keep her muddy/sandy paws on the plastic back there instead of my fabric seats. My only complaint is that the mechanism to attach the tether to the actual seat belt harness on Riley is very difficult to use. I bought a climbing grade carabiner at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and it's much easier to attach with that.

    Riley figured out after a few rides how to turn around with it one and to put her head underneath the tether strap when she gets tangled up and she can untangle herself. She was a tangled up mess the first 2 or 3 rides!

    Wow, that was long...sorry!

    Elyse (and Riley)

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  2. Hey Elyse, We only tried one brand, the American Tourister Safety Harness. It worked tolerably well when Cassie was a puppy...except that the first one we bought she managed to chew through on one short trip. The second time around I purchased a size larger (she was growing fast) and somehow no matter how small I made the straps and no matter how tight they seemed when I put the harness on Cassie skillfully managed to get herself out of the harness. She had a really nice maneuver where she bent down, and used the tautness of the seatbelt strap to pull the whole thing over her head and wiggle out. After the first successful escape it became child's play and she was never in the harness for more than a minute into a car ride after that. It was then that I gave up and went to the crate.
    It sounds like Riley's a bit of an escape artist herself...I'm glad to hear you've found something that actually stays on. That was the only other thing I didn't like about the seatbelt harness, because when she couldn't quite get free Cassie would panic and once almost strangled herself on the way home from class (it's only a 10 minute drive). I just don't feel comfortable for myself or her safety using a seatbelt harness with Cassie...she's too determined to get loose. That said, since we started using the crate she has matured a great deal and might now happily relax in the back seat for all I know. I'm just too chicken to try it.
    It's funny you should bring this up now, as I've just bought a new car (a Forester) and have been deciding whether to go with a new crate or a simple barrier system for the cargo area. I'm sort of at odds with myself about it. I think the control freak in me likes the crate. Once when Cassie got loose from her seatbelt she managed to lick most of the lubricant off of the driver's seat mechanisms. I spent the next couple days sure that she was going to be sick. After that I was pretty sure there wasn't much I could do to "puppy proof" the backseats. If I do figure something new out, I'll write about it. Maybe it would be a good idea for a survey...I haven't had one of those in ages! I think we both have a lot to say on this subject.

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  3. We saw these at Petsmart and passed on them because they said they were not chew toys and my dogs would chew them I am sure.

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  4. That's true, I wouldn't let Cassie treat the stick like a pig ear and all toys should be supervised when you have a super chewer, but I have to say it has been remarkably durable. Cassie gives most things a good working over and loves nothing more than to chew the stuffing out of her friends, but so far the Squeezz toys have stoodup without a scratch. Cassie likes chewing the ends in particular and so far so good. Most Kong toys actually say they are not for chewing (even the original red rubber kongs). I will keep an eye out of course, but if you pups like squeakers you might think about giving it a try!

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  5. I just started a new blog reviewing the dog toys that my puppy tests out! Glad to see someone else who does the same thing, your blog is beautiful and very well done! I hope to one day be able to build mine up to be just as informative and fun :)

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  6. We will have to try those for our boys. Even the chew proof toys have shown no match for our boys!

    Sam

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  7. Sam, I'd give them a try, but do monitor! Since we've left ours outside, the stick is starting to show some wear and fading. The ones at the shelter are holding up very nicely though (the dumbell shape especially)! They have only been used indoors though.

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  8. These look like fun! Maybe mom will buy be one new toy. My toy chest is pretty darn full!!!

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