BarkBox is arguably the most popular pet subscription box — I tried it and can see why dogs and their owners love it

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  • BarkBox is a subscription box filled with dog toys and treats. Since 2012, the popular boxes have been shipped to more than 2 million dogs.
  • Prices range from $22 to $29 per month, and each box includes exclusive toys, all-natural treats, and a chew.
  • I tested it with my dog Archie who will chew on or play with just about anything, so I'm not surprised he loved the BarkBox toys so much. I'm pleased with their quality and durability.
  • How does BarkBox work?
  • Testing the BarkBox
  • What's the verdict?
  • The pros
  • The cons

From groceries and prepared meals to clothing and beauty products, there is a monthly subscription service for everything — including dog toys. 

When it comes to monthly pet product subscriptions, there are several options to choose from. There are Petco's PupBox, Bullymake, and RescueBox for dogs, and boxes for our feline friends from Cat Lady Box and KitNipBox, to name a few. Add to that fresh food delivery services like The Farmer's Dog, Nom Nom, PetPlate, Ollie, and Spot & Tango.

And then there is arguably the most popular: BarkBox. Since its inception, it's delivered boxes to more than 2 million dogs and partnered with stores like Target to bring their most popular toys to nonsubscribers.

I decided to test the service with my dog Archie who loves to play with and chew on almost everything.

How does BarkBox work?

To keep it simple, BarkBox sends you a box of toys, treats, and accessories once a month.

Not only does BarkBox offer monthly deliveries of toys and treats, but each box has a unique theme. One month your dog might receive a collection of holiday-themed treats and toys while the next month his BarkBox might send him on a journey through Chewrassic Bark. Each box contains two innovative toys, two bags of all-natural treats, a chew, and a specially curated item from the month's themed collection.

Every toy is designed by in-house industrial designers, made for the way dogs play and approved by the company's own test dogs.

To sign up, all you have to do is create an online profile, answering questions about your dog's size and dietary preferences. You can also choose from the standard BarkBox filled with plush toys or the Super Chewer Box filled with fluff-free tough toys.

From there, you can choose a one-month subscription ($29), six months ($25/box), or 12 months ($22/box). The entire subscription process takes less than five minutes.

Testing the BarkBox

To write my review, Archie and I received two BarkBoxes with assorted toys, treats, and chews from the Bark Slope Street Fair collection. Here's what we received:

  • Fresh Fair Treats, Lamb Gyro Recipe
  • Fresh Fair Treats, Duck Shish Kabob Recipe
  • Fresh Fair Treats, Chicken & Fish Taco Recipe
  • New York City Central Pork Pizza Treats
  • Plato Pet Treats Thinkers Chew, Salmon Recipe (2)
  • Max's Maine Lobster Roll (Plush Toy)
  • Gideon the Pigeon (Plush Toy)
  • Bebe the Burrito (Plush Toy)
  • Lickton Iced Tea (Spiky Core Toy)
  • Shuck n' Chuck Corn Cob (Super Chewer Toy)
  • The All-Powerful Pupsicle (Super Chewer Toy)
  • Buns of Steel Hotdog (Super Chewer Toy)

From the moment I started opening the BarkBox, Archie was intrigued — the noise of the packing paper alone sent him into an excited frenzy. The first thing I grabbed out of the box was Max's Main Lobster Roll, one of the plush toys. I gave the toy a good squeeze and Archie's ears perked up and his head tilted to the side.

I waved the toy around a couple of times then offered it to him. He immediately grabbed it out of my hand, ran down the hall into the bedroom, and started chewing.

Archie loves a good plush toy, especially if there's a squeaker involved. But what he really loved about Max's Maine Lobster Roll was the crinkle noise it made. Several other toys in the collection made similar noises, and he seemed to prefer them above the hard Super Chewer toys. He gobbled up the treats (which was a little surprising since he's been picky about treats in the past) and he made quick work of the chews as well.

I'm now writing this several weeks after receiving Archie's BarkBox.

My bedroom floor is currently covered in tufts of stuffing ripped out of several plush toys I'd received as gifts. Archie's beloved stuffed lamb and puppy are no more, but his BarkBox plush toys are still around (though he did manage to get the squeaker out of Gideon the Pigeon and chewed that to shreds).

Needless to say, I think he's a fan of BarkBox and so am I.

What's the verdict?

Archie will chew on or play with just about anything, so I'm not surprised he loved the BarkBox so much. I am, however, pleased with the quality and durability of the toys. Even the plush toys from the regular BarkBox stood up well, and I'm convinced the Super Chewer toys will last forever.

Archie loves chews, so those are long gone already. I'm not sure that I need two bags of treats every month, though.

One final thing I found interesting is that BarkBox is very allergy-friendly. Every BarkBox is free from corn, wheat, and soy, which greatly reduces the risk for triggering allergies and food sensitivities. There are also options for dogs that are allergic to chicken, beef, and turkey — you simply have to call BarkBox or use their live chat feature, and they'll send you an allergy-friendly box.

To wrap up, here's an overview of the pros and cons for BarkBox:

The pros

  • Everything is of the highest quality, including all-natural dog treats and innovative toys.
  • Each box is tailored to fit your dog's size, and options are available for dogs with allergies.
  • You can reorder certain items or purchase items from other collections online.
  • There is a money-back guarantee if your dog doesn't like every item in the box.
  • BarkBox donates 5% of their profits go toward supporting organizations that provide free or low-cost vet care through spay and neuter programs.
  • Discounted prices are available for buying multiple months and for multiple dogs.

The cons

  • Subscription automatically renews; you'll be charged and sent another box if you don't cancel.
  • Some of the plush toys may not be ideal for heavy chewers and the stuffing could be a choking hazard — there is also access to the squeaker inside if your dog rips open the toy.
  • The rubberized toys that come in the Super Chewer box are heavy and somewhat awkward.

All in all, I was very pleased with my BarkBox experience and I think it's safe to say that Archie is too.

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