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Who doesn’t love getting presents? If the spike of subscription box services has taught us anything, it’s that we love getting gifts in the mail. And if we have to buy them for ourselves, so be it. But, sometimes, we like to spread that love around. That’s where pet subscription boxes like BarkBox come in. Designed to delight our furry family members, these boxes ship stocked with treats, toys and more. When I set out to try the BarkBox — the dog equivalent of the subscription box trend — I expected a few toys my dog may or may not like. What I got was so much more.

BarkBox is a monthly subscription service that ships your pet a gift box full of themed goodies. Image courtesy of BarkBox.

How BarkBox works

First, I hate to break the news, but BarkBox is only for dogs. (But don’t worry, there are plenty of cat subscription boxes out there.) Now, let’s talk logistics.

Pricing

Each BarkBox shipment is valued at over $40 but costs notably less. How much you pay per box will depend on the length of the subscription you set up. Specifically, BarkBox costs:

  • $29 for one month
  • $25 a month, or $135 upfront for six months
  • $22 a month, or $239 upfront for a year

Based on the box I received, I’d say that’s a pretty great deal. But more on that later. We’ve got more details to sort out first.

Shipping

Each box ships free if you live in the contiguous United States. That’s pretty neat, huh? If you live in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rice or Canada, your shipping will cost $8.

Sizing

To make sure your pup is getting treats and toys he or she can truly enjoy, BarkBox comes in three different sizes according to your dog’s weight:

  • Small: 20 pounds or less
  • Medium: 20 to 50 pounds
  • Large: over 50 pounds

When you sign up, you’ll let them know which size box you want to receive. And, if you’ve got a dog who’s still growing, you can change your sizing throughout your subscription.

Themes

Now, BarkBox isn’t just going to send you a random assortment of junk each month. Far from it. They curate monthly themes to add some zest and playfulness to each month’s box, making it as fun for the owner as it is for the pup. Some past themes include:

  • The Knights of the Hound Table
  • Chewrassic Bark
  • The Good, The Bad and the Pugly
  • Throwbark Thursday
  • Bento & Blossoms
  • Sniffin’ Safari

The box I received was Valentine’s Day themed and came with a cute card with the following poem that I just had to share:

Noses are wet,

Violets aren’t food,

I’m looking for chew love…

And I think it’s YOU!

Customization

Want more or less of a certain type of item? BarkBox offers a TAILored program that customizes your box to your specifications. Contact their Happy Team to make your requested changes.

And, if you’ve got a pet with food allergies, you’ll be happy to know two things. First, BarkBoxes never contain wheat, soy or corn. Secondly, BarkBox offers an allergy-friendly BarkBox if your dog can’t handle beef, chicken and/or turkey.

Maybe food isn’t your problem as much as your pet’s play habits. If you own a four-legged friend who loves to destroy toys, you can choose BarkBox’s Super Chewer offering, designed specifically for dogs like yours.

Scout’s Honor

BarkBox has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee for both you and your dog. If you or your hound are less than impressed with an item in your shipment, you can get in touch with their Happy Team and they’ll make it right — scout’s honor.

Our BarkBox was very on-theme and very fun to open. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My first BarkBox

Okay, that all sounds pretty good, right? But what’s it like in reality? I took BarkBox for a test drive to find out.

The BarkBox I received was packaged inside a cardboard box for shipping and tied with a pretty red ribbon. I’m a sucker for good presentation, so my first impression was solid. And that continued as I opened the box, which was lined with a très cute V-Day themed liner and stocked with the aforementioned card, three toys, two bags of treats and a chew.

The very V-Day contents of our first BarkBox. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Specifically, our box contained:

  • Coco-Nuts For U Valentine’s Treats
  • Ham Over Heels Valentine’s Treats
  • Hearts and Farts Boxers
  • Be My Howlentine Rose
  • Squeakhearts (three small squeakable plush hearts in a crinkle bag)
  • I Love Chew

The Squeakhearts have been a huge hit at my house. The little bag in which they come has an easily openable velcro top. When my dog is driving me a little nuts while I’m trying to work (like at this exact moment, actually), I put a treat in the bottom, stuff the hearts on top and close it. It keeps him occupied long enough for me to at least type out a paragraph uninterrupted.

The Coco-Nuts treats were also a pleasant surprise. When I first opened the bag, I got a huge whiff of chocolate. Which is, uh, disconcerting, to say the least. But upon closer inspection, I learned that they contain carob, a dog-safe chocolate alternative. A perfect Valentine’s Day treat!

Between all the fun and romantic toys and treats, I ended up with a bunch of items I would never have chosen myself that both my pup and I have been loving. So if you’re looking to spice up your pet’s life, BarkBox is an amazing resource.

My dog got in the Valentine’s Day spirit thanks to his themed toys. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The pros and cons of BarkBox

All in all, my impression of BarkBox is extremely positive. Letting their pros hand-pick items for your four-legged friend is an excellent way to change things up if you often find yourself getting in a toy or treat rut. And I was personally really impressed with the quality of both the toys and treats in our box.

TL;DR? Here are the pros and cons of BarkBox:

Pros

  • Fun themes make the shipments feel extra special
  • High-quality items
  • Reasonable pricing and free shipping in most states
  • Customization options based on dog size, allergies and toy destruction levels
  • Scout’s honor satisfaction guarantee

Cons

  • Inability to control what’s in your shipment (I see this as a pro, but I can understand wanting to be more involved)
  • $8 shipping in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada
  • You’ll definitely need a bigger toy bin/box
  • No options for cats

Get your free BarkBox

Sound like something you might want to try? For a limited time, you can use our link to sign up your pup for a 6- or 12-month subscription and BarkBox will give you an extra month free! Just use the code FRESHOME. As they told Freshome, “If you’re a dog, there’s nothing better than BarkBox — a monthly delivery of toys, treats and everything that makes tails wag. If you’re a human, what’s better than FREE?”

We can’t really argue with that. And even if they weren’t running such a great deal, I’d still recommend giving BarkBox a try. Whether you choose a single box or sign up for years, your pet will definitely thank you.