BarkBox Subscription Box
I decided to try BarkBox, a dog subscription box, for our Havanese’s birthday in August. I have wanted to try BarkBox for years because I thought it was such a great idea and I love to spoil my dogs, but I always hesitated due to cost. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I did not want to go my regular pet stores in SLC to buy presents and treats for the birthday girl (my favorites are Ma & Paws Bakery and The Dog’s Meow) and BarkBox was a great option.
How it Works
BarkBox has the most subscription plans and types of boxes that I have ever come across for a subscription box company. BarkBox offers multiple subscription plans and subscription boxes for pet owners, for example, they have a subscription box for dogs that are power chewers called Super Chewer, which sends a themed collection of super tough toys, treats and chews for your dog. They also offer a subscription box geared toward improving your dog’s oral hygiene called Bark Bright Dental, which sends a 1 month supply of dental sticks and 1 month supply of their Triple Enzymatic Dental Gel. And BarkBox has added a monthly dog food subscription box called Bark Eats, which sends curated kibbles, topper and supplements based on your pet’s eating habits to your door. But although I found the range of Barkbox’s subscription product lines impressive (and a little overwhelming), I will only be reviewing the original BarkBox subscription plans: Small and Cute (for dogs 0 – 20 lbs); Just Right (for dogs 20 – 50 lbs) and; Big & Bold (for dogs 50+ lbs).
All three subscriptions are the same price, regardless of the size of your dog and are available in 1-month ($35), 6-month ($25 per month) and 12-month ($22 per month) plans. You can add an extra toy for an additional $9 on the monthly plan or for an additional $7 for the 6- and 12-month plans. As part of the subscription process, you are asked for your dog’s name, birthday and allergy information, which helps to personalize your dog’s box. Every Barkbox is curated with a special theme and contains 2 toys, 2 all-natural bags of treats and 1 chew. However, if you do not want to commit to a subscription plan, there is also the Bark Shop, where you can buy treats and toys that are featured in the monthly BarkBox subscription plans.
I subscribed to BarkBox on July 22 for the Small and Cute plan with the extra toy and the Barkbox was shipped July 24 and I received it on July 29. The BarkBox arrived in a brown cardboard box with “Barkbox” on one side and an animated picture of a group of dogs on the other side of the box. July’s theme was TV and when I opened the box, there was a “Bark Guide” that was a spoof on the TV Guide and it had reviews of toys that were parodies of real tv shows, for example, “The Real Housepets” and “Law and Udder”. Additionally, the paper that wrapped the contents of the box also had the same parodied tv show titles as the Bark Guide. I thought it was very cute and clever. Here are the items that were in the box:
BarkBox Bigwalky Fanny Pack
BarkBox Push Play Remote toy
BarkBox The Bachelemeur plush toy
BarkBox Ring Under the Rosie plus toy
BarkBox Click Click Chicky Tenders – Chicken Recipe Dog Treats
BarkBox Oh Snap! Apple Snacks – Crunchy Apple Slices
Plato Pet Treats – Thinkers Chicken Recipe ($1.99)
What I Liked and Didn’t Like
There are many things I liked about BarkBox. First, I liked that the turnaround was so quick between subscribing and receiving the box. Also, I liked that shipping was free within the 48 contiguous U.S. (I hate when I have to pay for shipping for a subscription box!). Another thing I liked was that there were a lot of coupons for BarkBox available online. I always search online for coupons before I subscribe to a box and I found a coupon that gave me 50% off the cost of my first BarkBox. This is only the 2nd time I have ever found such a good coupon for a subscription box and I loved it! Additionally, I liked the quality of the toys as well as the fact that the treats were made in either the U.S. or Canada, where pet food recalls are less common than for food intended for people (funny how that works huh?).
The fanny pack was a great inclusion because it can hold treats, poop bags, a small wallet and a collapsible water bowl without having to carry a separate purse or backpack when you take your dog on a walk. I thought the curated theme was fun, it makes more enjoyable to open for the pet owner and also for the dog. And finally, I liked that they have a 100% guarantee on their boxes, so that if your dog doesn’t like something in the box, they will work with you to make it right. Although I did not use this service because my dogs love all treats and all toys, I still appreciated the guarantee because in my experience, not many boxes offer replacements or offer a 100% guarantee on the products in their boxes.
But there were a few things that I didn’t like about BarkBox. For example, although I purchased the plan for dogs 0-20 lbs., the treats included in the box were regular-sized, so I had to tear the treats into smaller pieces for my small dog. And, the toy that was shaped like a rose is too large for my dog to fit in her mouth, so she doesn’t really play with the rose. In other words, I did not like that in a box intended for small dogs, the extra toy and the treats were not mini-sized. Another thing I did not like is that when you try to cancel your membership, they offer a BarkBox – Lite, which includes 1 toy, 1 treat and 1 chew for $14.99 a month. I declined the offer but I wish that was a subscription option for new subscribers, and not something that they offer help convince you to keep the subscription. And, although I used a coupon, so the first month’s box was a great deal, if I had to pay the full $44 (monthly subscription cost of $35 + $9 for an extra toy), it would have been hard to determine if I got a good value for money.
I appreciate that BarkBox makes all the treats (except the chew), toys and fanny pack included in the box because then I can be assured of each item’s quality but this also makes it harder to determine whether I am getting a good deal on the subscription because I can’t cross check the price of the included items with price of those same items online. Lastly, although I liked the curated theme, it only applied to the packaging and the toys, the treats that were included in the box – the Chicky Tenders and the Apple Slices – did not share the TV Guide theme. One suggestion on how to carry through the TV theme to the treats would be to include some dog-safe version of snacks and candy typically sold in theatres, for example, carob (chocolate substitute that is safe for dogs) candy and kernel free popcorn.
Although I have many critiques of BarkBox, I think it is a good pet subscription box and I recommend it for busy dog owners, dog owners who don’t like to go to pet stores or dog owners with multiple dogs that fight over toys. I plan to try other pet subscription boxes in the future but BarkBox will definitely be the one to beat due to its range of products, level of personalization and the quality of treats and toys.