We came across K9 Connectables recently as they headed off to Crufts 2017. Their colourful 3D printed interactive dog toys looked and sounded really interesting, so we contacted them with a view to road testing them ourselves.
Step in our Head of Testing, Abby (my sister's dog), chosen because she is a particularly energetic chewer and very athletic Springer Spaniel.
As you can see, Abby carried out the tests using a variety of treats and K9 toy combinations.
So how did they rate?
It really was a 5* verdict. Abby just loves the toys, and really enjoys the challenge involved. When we say she is energetic and athletic we are not exaggerating, but these toys really do keep her occupied and entertained, something not easily achieved! These well designed and produced toys are intended to "engage, stimulate and entertain" your dog and they definitely passed with honours on all counts.
What's different about K9 Connectables is that they are purposely designed to engage your dog’s instinct to hunt and work for food, challenging them to unlock the treats inside. Another plus is that unlike other food filling toys you can increase the difficulty level as your dog gets better at the game by connecting more and different toys together.
Life span of K9 toys?
We hadn't expected to be able to pass judgement on this but it turns out that Abby has been chewing on a pair of The Original Orange & Yellow bought at The Doggie Do in Herbert Park last year. They are still in great shape and Abby is most definitely not an average chewer. We cannot think of a single other toy that has lasted anywhere near this long with her, including several big brand names (most recently, the ball launcher from a major American brand: Abby manged to burst the ball on its first outing!).
About K9 Connectables
Following the test, we did a quick interview with K9 founders, husband & wife team James & Lauren McIlvenna.
Can you tell us a little about K9Connectables, what you actually do?
- We design and develop dog toys that mentally stimulate and challenge dogs so they have to work for rewards.
Tell us a little about yourselves, how you came into being?
- It all started with our own dog Sandy! A high energy Labrador that we had to learn how to channel her energy into positive and appropriate play. We found existing dog toys to be really quite simplistic.. random shapes with holes in them for treats. It made me think there must be more we can do to really challenge dogs.
The toys are clearly very well designed - how long did the process take / what was involved in coming up with the finished product range?
- We started 3D printing prototypes about three years ago and we could produce soft plastics that we could give straight to Sandy and other dogs and see how they reacted straight away.
We designed, tested, improved and created over 100 iterations of the design until we were happy we had something we could go to market with. We worked with trainers and behavior advisers and of course lots of dogs and then took a business plan to Enterprise Ireland and got some funding to accelerate the business and make it a reality.
When did you launch?
- We launched the toys in November 2016.
How has business gone since your launch?
- Business has gone great since we launched, we have had a tremendous reaction from the public and their dogs!
How did Crufts go, would you do it again?
- Crufts was amazing, it was great to meet so many dog crazy people! They really got K9 Connectables and loved the idea of challenging the dogs for rewards.
Where do you see as your main market?
- We see our main markets as Ireland and the UK right now as there are 1 million dogs in Ireland and 9 million in the UK so plenty to keep us going for now.
What are your next steps / long term plans?
- More K9 Connectables ! We introducted the first three products to the market to really see how we got on and now we are gearing up to produce a Kibble dispenser rope toy and tug toy that all connect into the range and can entertain dogs for even longer! We are also working on K9 Connectables mini's for dogs under 8kg. Watch this space!
Where can people buy your toys?
- People can buy direct from www.k9connectables.com or else check out our stockists list to find their local store. We are currently rolling out in the UK and will be updating our UK locations very soon.
How can people get in touch with you?
- Directly through our contact form on www.k9connectables.com or else through Facebook.