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Last year, a very intriguing new smart dog toy called Wickedbone appeared on Kickstarter. It was billed as the “World’s First Smart & Interactive Dog Toy,” and quickly attracted a lot of attention. Around 2000 people ended up backing the project across Kickstarter and Indiegogo, eventually raising $200,000.
Spoiler alert, I was one of those 2000 people who pledged $89 for the promise of previewing the future of pet entertainment.
What Actually Is Wickedbone?
The simplest way to put it is Wickedbone is a smart dog toy that will play with your pet. While most toys do little more than offer something fun to chew on, this device spins, moves, and makes a lot of noise.
To do this it needs to be charged via USB and managed with a free app you download to your phone. Unpacking and setting up kind of feels like unboxing a new Apple product. But once you’ve done that you can start to play.
The Wickedbone has two settings: you can control it remotely yourself, or put it into interactive mode and let it respond to your dog alone. It can also be programmed to run for a set amount of time per hour.
It’s the kind of toy you can leave with your pet when you go out to stop them getting bored. Encouragingly the tires can be replaced or removed to be washed, and all the external materials are FDA approved. So you don’t need to worry too much about what will happen to it when you’re not around.
Cool, But Do Dogs Like Smart Dog Toys?
To answer this, I turned to my beagle Snoop. He’s often cautious around new things so was quite scared to start with. Word of advice, don’t set it up on tiles (like I did at first), it can be pretty noisy. Once I moved it to the carpet Snoop approached it but lost interest when he realised it wasn’t food. After that he wasn’t keen on being in the same room as it–or at least wanted me between them.
I did notice it seemed to want to protect itself: if picked up it started spinning out of control and making a lot of noise.
While Snoop wasn’t a huge fan, I could see a smart dog toy being more interesting to prey-driven pups who would enjoy chasing and chewing it.
Although it felt solid, I personally wouldn’t be that comfortable leaving it alone with Snoop unsupervised. I could imagine larger dogs and more destructive chewers destroying it quickly. It does offer a one year warranty, but it’s unclear if that covers chewing.
There’s no doubt smart dog toys are a good way to keep your dog occupied while you are away, but they still need to be the right fit for their personality and interests. Additionally, they might not be the right fit for pups that tend to destroy things. Not only are they expensive, but they run the risk of exposing dangerous internal parts to your pet.
For more information on Wickedbone, head here.
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