Waggly Club’s Subscription Dog Boxes Are An Event

Image: Lifehacker Australia

Waggly Club’s subscription dog boxes are an exercise in quality over quantity, and are the best we've come across at taking a theme and running with it.

First Impressions

Based in Victoria, Waggly Club’s sturdy purple boxes were the smallest of the subscription dog boxes we reviewed. Upon their arrival I wondered whether I’d feel as though I got my money’s worth when I opened them, and whether their presumably modest contents would be suited to my approximately 25kg border collie. Fortunately when I opened them, I found that while small and fairly unassuming, their contents were exciting.

What’s Inside?

Waggly Club sent us four different types of boxes they offer – their Original box, their Active Chewer box, their Birthday box and their Christmas box.

Original Box

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I didn’t expect Waggly Club’s standard subscription box to be themed, so was pleasantly surprised when I opened it up and found a small note welcoming me to my “Aussie Outdoors Waggly Box”. The theme was immediately apparent, with the box’s two toys being a plush kangaroo and a squeaky koala.

The koala actually had two squeakers positioned side by side inside it, which made it look a little odd - as though the koala had come out of an encounter with a semi-trailer. But this also meant it was large enough for my dog Boatmeal to get a good grip, while leaving enough room for me to grasp when taking it from him. He also really enjoyed squeaking it.

Considering the theme, I was mildly disappointed that they didn't push it further by including some kangaroo snacks. But the shark cartilage and lamb leg join they did include are fairly Australian as well, so I will allow it.

Waggly Club’s website says that their Original boxes include “two different toys” and “two bags of healthy treats”. On top of this, my box also included a pick up bag dispenser and bags. This is a useful little extra if you aren't expecting it, and the dispenser is one of the nicer ones I've seen, but poo bags aren't terribly exciting.

This box contained:

  • FuzzYard Plush Dog Toy With Squeaker ‘Bounce The Kangaroo’ ($14.95)
  • Zippy Paws Squeakie Pad – Koala ($11.95)
  • Waggly Snacks Shark Cartilage ($12.95)
  • Waggly Snacks Lamb Leg Joint ($12.95)
  • Zippy Paws Adventure Gear Pick Up Bag Dispenser ($12.95)
  • 15 Zippy Paws Pick Up Bags ($18.95 for 120)

Active Chewer Box

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As the name suggests, Active Chewer boxes are tailored for dogs that like to chew, and therefore may destroy standard plush toys quickly. These boxes include “one high quality toy” and “three bags of healthy treats”.

I was delighted to find a large KONG Marathon bone in my box. Despite some other services claiming to, Waggly Club is the only service we reviewed that actually included KONG products - arguably the most well-known high quality dog toy manufacturer. The box also included refills for the bone, which I really appreciated.

Boatmeal loved the treat, quietly setting to work on it as soon as it was given to him. Impressively, despite his single-minded effort the KONG Marathon bone managed to occupy Boatmeal for several hours. The bone feels very sturdy, and looked no worse for wear after Boatmeal had finished the treat. I'm confident it will be in his toy rotation for a long time.

The Active Chewer toys appear more robust than those included in the Original box, but if your dog does somehow manage to destroy the single toy included in this box he’ll have to do without a new toy until the next delivery.

This box contained:

  • KONG Marathon Bone Large ($36.19)
  • KONG Marathon Chew Treat Refill Large 120g ($9.75)
  • Waggly Snacks Shark Cartilage ($12.95)
  • SavourLife Australian Natural Salmon Skins 125g ($14.99)
  • SavourLife Salmon sample ($23.99 for 2.5kg)

Special Occasion Membership

Waggly Club offers a Special Occasion Membership, which supplies subscribers with four boxes throughout the year at special occasions - namely Christmas, Easter, Halloween and your dog's birthday. At $200, or $220 for an upgrade to an Active Chewer variant, it works out to be $50 or $55 per box. This option might be ideal for you if you like the idea of a subscription box, but don't want to shell out for a monthly delivery, or else are just afraid of spoiling your pup. As Boatmeal's birthday is near the end of the year (his existence on this planet being the best early Christmas gift of all), Waggly Club sent us both their Birthday Box and their Christmas Box.

Birthday Box

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Dog boxes are, by nature, a gift for your dog – a package of unknown toys and treats to unwrap and enjoy. Considering this, I wondered if there would be any difference between a normal dog box and a birthday box, speculating that perhaps Waggly Club would attempt to personalise the box to what they knew of Boatmeal (border collie, 11 months old, around 25kg, avid lover of kangaroo treats and chewing).

It turned out there is a noticeable difference, and that difference is theming. The toys in this box were a plush slice of cake with a candle, and a tennis ball with “Happy Birthday” emblazoned upon it. In lieu of lollies and party pies, there were yoghurt drops and snack-sized beef cubes. I'd never given Boatmeal yoghurt snacks before, but he stayed still and let us brush his tail if he was eating one of them, which is an achievement.

Even the one non-birthday themed toy included - an AllPet Monstaargh toy - was tied into the theme by sharing its pink and blue colours with the birthday cake. (Boatmeal loves his new monster toy, and I love that he loves it, but my mum absolutely hates it. It has a very loud squeak.) All put together, I was impressed by how much it felt like a birthday celebration in a box.

This box contained:

  • Blackdog Beef Cubes 80g ($7.95)
  • Blackdog Yoghurt Drops 250g ($7.95)
  • FuzzYard Plush Dog Toy With Squeaker ‘Cake’ – Pink ($11.95)
  • AllPet Monstaargh Toy – Medium ($14.95)
  • KONG Airdog Happy Birthday Squeakair Ball ($9 for three)

Christmas Box

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Waggly Club's Christmas Box supplied Boatmeal with one of the more interesting toys we've received in a dog box - a soft box containing several small reindeer plush toys, which are intended to be pulled out by your dog. Boatmeal had a good time doing so, and then playing with the reindeer individually. This was a terrific, unique inclusion, as it was a very different type of toy to the ones we had previously received from subscription dog boxes. I'm a big fan of enrichment toys, and this is a great one.

I was a bit apprehensive regarding the size and resilience of the Penguin toy - particularly its long, crinkly, prime-for-tearing-off limbs. Miraculously, the penguin currently remains intact, but I'm still leery. You'll want to keep a close eye on your dog when they're playing with this one.

The box included a Christmas bandanna, which thrilled me as it meant Boatmeal was appropriately dressed for family photos. I was mildly disappointed that the bandanna is designed to attach to your dog’s collar like a bib rather than tie around his neck, but I’ll concede that this decision means you won’t have to worry about it coming undone.

The Waggly-branded treats don’t tell you exactly how much you’re getting, which is irritating. If I wanted to buy them individually it would be difficult to evaluate whether I'm getting good value. Weighing the unopened bags myself, the Beef Liver came in at 82g, and the Lamb Crumble at 56g. Meanwhile, the Lamb Leg Joint and the Shark Cartilage from the Original Box came in at 218g and 62g respectively.

However, I was impressed that they went that extra mile and stuck Christmas stickers on the bags of lamb and beef treats - a small detail that seems inconsequential, but really adds to the box's coherence and the feeling that care was put into it.

This box contained:

  • Waggly Snacks Lamb Crumble ($12.95)
  • Waggly Snacks Beef Liver ($12.95)
  • Zippy Paws Squeaky Plush Dog Toy – Holiday Crinkle Penguin, Small ($11.95)
  • Zippy Paws Burrow Interactive Dog Toy – Reindeer Pen ($20.95)
  • Zippy Paws Christmas Bandanna – Large ($9.95)

Available Boxes

  • Original Box - $50 per month
  • Active Chewer Box - $55 per month
  • Christmas Box - $65 one off
  • Special Occasions subscription - $200 ($50 per box), $220 for the Active Chewer variant ($55 per box)

When choosing a subscription you are prompted to select the size of your dog as well. All Waggly Club boxes come with free delivery.

Overall Impression

I was impressed by how much opening each Waggly Club box felt like a special event. Though superficially a superfluous detail, each theme tied the boxes together. It was like going to a Harry Potter party or a Marvel superheroes party instead of just, well, a party. All parties are fun, but themes heighten the excitement.

Rather than a collection of disparate items, every box seemed carefully tailored, each item chosen to compliment the others and speak to a theme. You can tell care has gone into their construction, and every item is there for a purpose.

Waggly Club excels at creating boxes that, though small, feel cohesive. The toys are soft and items less plentiful than other services, so these boxes are more suited to well-mannered dogs that you’re confident won’t tear apart their things within minutes. But if you want a small selection of delicious snacks and thoughtfully chosen toys, Waggly Club is a solid choice.

We are trying out subscription dog box services in Australia, assisted by Very Good Boy Boatmeal. Read all our reviews here.


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