Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Barley Tries the GameChanger (Review)

Long time readers of the blog know that Barley likes to find ways to entertain herself--even if I've only turned my back for half a second. Usually, Barley chooses forms of entertainment that are highly inappropriate--like digging my carpet or eating things out of the trash. For that reason, we love interactive toys that keep her busy in safe ways. Recently, we got the opportunity to review a new interactive dog toy, the GameChanger by Bark Busters.

The GameChanger is a treat dispensing toy made out of non-toxic, BPA-free polyurethane material. The GameChanger can be hand washed and it comes in four different colors: red, blue, lime green, and yellow.

Barley thinks that any mail that comes is for her, so she was really excited when I brought the package inside. She was very impatient to see what this new thing was, so she wouldn't smile at first--instead, she gave the GameChanger her intense border collie stare and then shifted the stare to me.


The GameChanger is made of two separate pieces that you pop apart, fill with treats, and then push back together. It took me a second to figure out how to separate the two halves, but after I'd done it once, it was really simple. As soon as Barley saw this toy would be filled with treats, she was thrilled.

The holes are pretty small, so we used some Zuke's Minis and some Merrick Power Bites and they were perfect, but any smallish treat would work. I tried putting some of Barley's kibble--which is about the size of Cocoa Puffs (or at least the size I remember them being the last time I ate them)--and they were just a little too big. I'll be keeping the GameChanger in mind next time I make Barley peanut butter and banana treats and adjusting their size accordingly! 



You can choose two different levels of difficulty for the GameChanger; by aligning the holes on the two sides, you can make things more difficult and by not aligning them, you can make things easier for your dog. 

Barley tends to get frustrated easily when she's not getting the food she wants, so I meant to choose the easy mode, but I didn't read the instructions carefully and I accidentally put it in hard mode. Oops.

Barley didn't care, though. She picked up the GameChanger and went to work. She tipped it, rolled it, kicked, nudged it, laid down with it, carried it. She was so in to moving the GameChanger around, she didn't even notice when a treat fell out.


A video posted by Beth (@eedevore) on

Overall, we love the GameChanger. Here are our three favorite things about it:

1. It's durable. Barley is very enthusiastic about food and she can be very rough with treat-dispensing toys. She's been known to bang them against the wall or throw them down the stairs. One of her favorite treat balls is made of a hard plastic and I'm afraid it will crack if she sends it down the stairs, so it's a downstairs only toy. With the GameChanger, I don't have to worry about that. On the second day with the GameChanger, Barley did send it flying down the stairs and it was still in one piece. It did bounce quite a bit, so if you have breakable things at the bottom of your stairs, you'd want to be careful, but ours just careened off the front door and into the living room and made it even more exciting to chase.



2. It's quiet. Barley was loud. She growled a lot. She stomped a lot. But the GameChanger was very quiet. There were some soft thumps as it hit the carpet, but that was it. I left Barley upstairs with the GameChanger while I spent some time with quarantined foster dog Sal--I could hear Barley thumping around (because for an agility dog she is not light on her feet), but there was not the normal banging and crashing I normally hear when she uses interactive toys while I'm off somewhere else. Later on, I was doing dishes and Barley left the kitchen--she was quiet, so I was worried and snuck off to see what she was up to. She was in the living room playing with the GameChanger. Since we usually use interactive toys when I'm grading papers, quiet toys are a definite plus! 

3. It's fun. Even when Barley wasn't getting treats out of it, she enjoyed the way the GameChanger moves. It's thick enough that it can roll on it's side for quite some time. It's easy to flip over with her nose. It's flat enough and soft enough that she can pick it up and carry it around. Often with interactive toys, Barley gets them stuck under furniture and doesn't care enough to work to get it out and it stays there until I pick it up and get her engaged again. On multiple occasions, she's gone off and picked up the GameChanger on her own. Once, I couldn't find it when I wanted to remind her to play with it before I went to see Sal and I found it under the bed where Barley stores her favorite toys.


The GameChanger is heavy, so if you have a smaller dog, it might be more challenging to flip over or carry around. Bark Busters recommends using this for dogs over 15 pounds, but if you have a smaller dog, don't worry! According to the company's website, they're working on a smaller version that they hope to have ready by the end of the year. The only issue we had was that it took awhile for treats to fall out of the GameChanger in both modes--and Barley is NOT patient--but they seemed to follow out more easily the more Barley used it, so I think the holes just needed some time to stretch out a bit and Barley didn't eve mind that it was more challenging than some of her other interactive toys.

We definitely recommend the GameChanger by Bark Busters for all of our friends who need a little help entertaining themselves in healthy, fun, safe ways! I'm thinking this will be great fun for foster dog Sal, too, since he's still gaining the strength for longer walks and spends a lot of time inside--as soon as his quarantine's over, he'll be trying it out (I'm just so tired of disinfecting things that he has to wait a few more days). The GameChanger can be purchased through the Global Dog Company's website for $29.99 or other online retailers like Amazon

Disclaimer: We were provided with one GameChanger in exchange for our honest review, but all opinions are my own and we only share information we think is relevant and valuable to our readers. Bark Busters is not responsible for the content of this review. 

14 comments:

  1. That looks like a fabulous toy. Barley is having a blast. That would be something good for winter fun.

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    1. Yes! This might save my sanity when winter hits. It will also be traveling to my parents' house with us over the holidays so when Barley and her cousin take turns in exile, they have something fun to play with.

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  2. Barley really loves that! We can use treat dispensing toys much around here because Luke and Cricket will fight over treats. But if they need to be separated for any reasons it sounds great. I even think Luke might enjoy playing with it without the treats!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Barley doesn't like to share her treat toys, either. She has pounced her cousin for trying out her treat ball before. I bet Luke would love tossing it around--it really moves in a lot of different ways.

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  3. We have one that is very similar to that! This one looks a little more fun though!

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    1. I think I had just as much watching her play with as she did playing with it!

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  4. Ooh this looks like fun! I know what some lucky pup will be getting for Christmas ;-)

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    1. Well, some lucky pup could come try out his cousin's when she's not looking if he doesn't want to wait until December to have fun ;)

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  5. Ooh thanks. I don't use a lot of interactive toys but this might be one that Sampson could enjoy. I'm looking for ways to engage him since his exercise is limited.

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    1. We have really enjoyed it so far. It's heavy enough that it wears Barley out physically and mentally and she gets snacks, so we're all happy :)

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