Coop has proven to be one of the most clever dogs we have ever fostered. While this makes him a very quick learner in training scenarios, it also means he can become a bit of a spaz when bored. We routinely help expend his young hound energy with both physical and mental tasks. Right now, we are really into puzzle toys. Coop is extremely food motivated, so treat-based toys that require a combination of smarts and persistence to get a reward are our favorites. I know all pet parents think their baby is the best and smartest, but Coop really is a boy wonder. We needed a serious puzzler with extreme durability, so we tried the Starmark Everlasting Groovy Ball.
Starmark has a wide range of puzzle toys and dog treats. This particular one offers a few different ways to dispense goodies, though the main feature is that it holds an Everlasting Treat With Dental Ridges, a hard chew. The toy comes with it pre-inserted, and refills are available in packages of two. The opposite end of the ball has an opening through which you can add training treats, medium-sized cookies, jerky treats — you name it. The last treat-based feature is the ridged exterior; you can slip small treats into the ridges or smear them with peanut butter or cheese.
We opted for the large toy for Coop. (It also comes in small and medium.) While the large Everlasting Treat looked pretty substantial, we went ahead and slipped a few cookies and jerky strips into the bottom of the ball, too, before Coop’s inaugural play. Did I mention Coop is a genius? He totally is. We wanted to maximize the difficulty level.
Coop LOVED this toy. He sniffed, rolled, and licked every square inch before settling on the task of eating/dislodging the Everlasting Treat. Within about five minutes, he had gnawed off the raised “dental ridges,” which just meant it would take more determination to reach the rest of the chew. But Coop is a genius, which I may have already mentioned. The package said it should offer “hours of chewing challenge,” but he had the Everlasting Treat out in 50 minutes.
Once out, he ate it immediately. Those 50 minutes may not sound like a lot of time, but it is the longest-lasting puzzle we have tried so far, so if your dog is not an extreme genius — and that is OK, because I am sure she is SUPER cute! — you will likely get the advertised hours. Regardless, we were pretty pleased.
Because we had inserted treats into the bottom, Coop still spent more time with the toy after eating the big treat. The design ensures that no Everlasting Treat need be present to keep the other treats in, so he still had another half hour of play before he just crashed out, totally, happily exhausted. The next morning, the very first thing Coop did on being released from his crate was pick up his Groovy Ball. He only put it down long enough to pee. He really likes this toy.
Alas, things changed the next time we loaded it up. Per the instructions, we dampened another Everlasting Treat and inserted it in the Groovy Ball at around 6 p.m. We gave him the toy at 8 p.m. By 8:05, the treat was out. We decided it might possibly be user (human) error. Maybe the treat did not dry enough before we gave it to him? So we put in another, without wetting it first. Same result. Now, I’m not sure if this is Coop H. Dog, Super Genius having figured out the toy or a flaw that the toy never securely holds Everlasting Treats again after the dog gets the pre-inserted one out. I just know that that feature no longer works for us; it is not, in any way, everlasting.
That being said, the toy still held interest for Coop, so long as we stuffed the bottom with alternative treats. And on day three, we tried stuffing small training treats into the exterior ridges, which also engaged and tested him. Overall, Coop enjoys the toy. The fact that the expensive Everlasting Treats didn’t really work out for us is not enough to keep me from recommending it. The multi-functionality makes this a perfectly serviceable puzzle toy even without it. But if that feature is important to you, be aware it may or may not work for your particular dog.
Quality: The actual toy is durable and engaging. The Everlasting Treats, not so much. Despite our not being able to effectively refill those, the rest of the toy has a very high degree of interactivity.
Style: It’s a dog toy. I guess the purple is nice.
Function: I have to give it a C. The complete failure of it as a holder for the Everlasting Treat part was not enough to fail the whole toy, but it is a pretty big flaw. I think this would have functioned perfectly as a puzzle toy if they had just left that feature off. And the other treat opening has great flexibility for you to use whatever kind of treats your dog prefers, which is nice. Other Starmark models only use the Everlasting Treat, and I would be wary of those based on our experience with this.
Creativity: There was definitely a lot of thought put into making this toy engaging on many levels. It’s nice to have a puzzle toy with more than one solution to keep your dog engaged.
Value: The large Everlasting Groovy Ball retails for $29.99, though it can be found online for considerably less. It comes with one Everlasting Treat With Dental Ridges. Refills for the large chew retail for $8.99 per package of two. That is a pretty expensive refill if you have a super chewer. If you even can replace those, and have to pretty often, the value is not so great. If you use the other features instead and choose your own treats, I think it’s a pretty good value.
I can’t tell you if your dog will have the same experience with the “everlasting” feature, but even he or she does, I think that given the other ways the toy can be used, the Groovy Ball is a good, engaging puzzle toy for dogs of all levels of genius.
After a good, solid week of nightly use as a puzzle and daily use as a toy, Coop found an easier way to get to the treats hidden inside the Groovy Ball. By customizing the opening himself. I had been finding new and more complicated ways to load and arrange the treats inside, and last night Coop decided to put an end to that. After a particularly long session, he went after the infrastructure of the toy. This is how it looks this morning. If your dog is a super chewer, this might not hold up. I still maintain it will be good for less intense dogs.
Read more Dogster reviews:
About the author: Lisa Seger (who goes by Blue Heron Farm on most social media platforms) is a former office drone turned dairy farmer and cheesemaker. She found that cubicle jobs just didn’t allow for enough quality animal time and so made animals her work instead. Like all dairy farmers, she has virtually NO free time, but what little she gets is generally spent in pursuit of rescuing, fostering, and placing homeless dogs. Or being a smart-alec on the interwebs. Follow her on Facebook.