Product Review: Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel and Hide-A-Hedgie
One of the best things about my job is that I come across all sorts of things that I think my dogs would love. Which is why I work, because I just want to buy them all!
When I saw Outward Hound’s Hide-A-Squirrel, I loved the concept of something to keep my pups mentally challenged when they played with toys. They are young; two-years-old and seven-months-old, and they’re both smart. I adopted my Lab/Shepherd mix from Global Pet Expo and she’s probably the smartest, most driven dog we’ve ever called ours. I am always looking for ways to keep her brain going, and now with the puppy, especially things they can play and enjoy together.
So I bought the Hide-A-Squirrel and Hide-A-Hedgehog toys for my girls and waited anxiously for them to arrive. It’s winter and there’s not a ton of stuff we can do outside, but 15 minutes of mental stimulation and play with interactive toys is equal to about 30 minutes of physical activity. I thought these were not only adorable but would provide a mental and physical challenge. I wasn’t wrong!
When they arrived, my first thought was, “Oh, they’re going to eat these in 37 seconds.” And, if honest, I’m not wrong. They *would* if I wasn’t watching and interacting with them, so my first suggestion is that these are toys that are best used when you can interact with your pups, too.
First I brought out the Hide-A-Squirrel. I got the large one (though in hindsight, I probably would prefer the extra-large one if I was letting two dogs play and interact with it) and right off the bat, I noticed the squeakers were good and loud. Anytime I pull toys out of boxes, the dogs go nuts, and they did so for the squirrels because I accidentally squeezed one of the squirrels before I got him stuffed in the tree. The large one came with three, and they’re pretty cute and definitely intriguing for dogs.
At first, the ‘holes’ in the tree sort of stumped the dogs, like they knew they wanted to get to what was inside, but weren’t sure why they were tucked in in the first place. They played a bit, but it took me squeaking some for them to become interested in getting the squirrels out.
Once they realized that it was those squeaky squirrels making the noise, they decided they needed to get on it! They realized that when they took the ‘tree’ and shook it like all get out, the squirrels would come flying and they’d attack. We laughed watching them twist and shake and dive in to get the squirrels out, and that’s when I brought out the hedgehog–my older girl Lilly decided she was in it to win it by herself and that’s why I’d bought both. Even though they’d go back and forth playing, I wanted to have two sets.
I am not going to lie. I think the Hide-A-Hedgehog is the cutest thing ever. Whereas the hide-a-squirrel tree is made of furry plushy, the hide-a-hedgehog tree is more vinyl-feeling on the outside and gives a different sensory experience to the pups. Also, unlike the hide-a-squirrel, the tree for the hedgehog had a lid, and it was attached with an elastic pull that gave my dogs even more challenge to get those hedgies out. It was also bigger, and again made me wish I’d gotten the bigger squirrel one because I think that adds to the challenge.
Immediately there was a difference in interest because the hedgehogs can be tucked in deeper and the two hedgies fit in the holes so much tighter than do the squirrels. Their trick of shaking the tree as hard as they could didn’t work with the hedgies, so they had to really go at it to figure out how to get them out.
The squeaker effect wasn’t as strong in the hedgies as it was in the squirrels, so they didn’t get the same feedback and motivation to keep digging as they did with the hide-a-squirrel, but again, this is where you can bond with your pup and have a fun time by interacting and encouraging them in play. Once they realize that they can get those hedgies out (and chew on them, in my dogs’ case), they were definitely more motivated. Again, it was so much fun to see them really get into wanting to get those critters OUT!
Pros and Cons
As I said, for my dogs, once they get to whatever animal is in the tree, they’re going to want to destroy it to get the fluff out and get to the squeaker. That makes this toy one (for us, at least) which requires us to engage with them to be sure that they don’t do that, and to keep re-stuffing in the tree, but we love that time with them, so it is okay. Additionally, you can buy extra plushies to go in whatever set you get (there are Hide-A-Bee and Hide-A-Bird puzzles you can also buy) so theoretically, even if they do destroy it, it’s still a pretty long-living toy.
I noticed the stitching of the hedgehog’s tree stem I ordered was a bit loose, so dogs tugging on that could make that tear more easily, but one of the best things is that Outward Hound has excellent customer service. I am sure the mere mention of that concern would make it easy to trade out for one that was tighter.
The squeakers didn’t seem to match in the squirrels as they did in the hedgehogs, but that is most likely because the hedgehog is a roly-poly guy full of stuffing and it just may be a bit more muffled than in the squirrel. It certainly didn’t affect their play, I just needed to make sure they knew it was a squeaker too so I could pique their interest.
Additionally, you can play fetch with the animals, without even needing the tree, and my dogs loved that just about as much too–perfect for cold, inside days!
These toys were just as much fun as I thought they would be, and my dogs loved them! I prefer the hedgehog to the squirrel simply because it has an attached trunk and the holes seem a bit tighter for the challenge, but the squirrels (and I’d assume the bee and bird sets) were super fun to watch fly through the air too and I loved watching my pups’ interest being challenged. They’re machine washable, and with over 11,000 reviews giving years’ worth of 4.5-star ratings on Amazon, the durability and quality is clearly evident.
Mostly, though, I love how much my dogs enjoyed them. At first, I thought them to be a bit overpriced for ‘plushies,’ but they’re also mental challenges and interactive with the whole family, and that’s priceless. My eight-year-old spent a good 45-minutes playing with them, stuffing the trunks and encouraging my dogs to go after them, and that was worth the cost right there!
So go, check them out. They’re fun and engaging and perfect for dogs of any age to get some mental stimulation and activity. Plus, you just can’t beat how stinking cute they are, and if your dogs are anything like mine, they’ll want to play hide-and-seek over and over and over!
More by Lori Ennis