- This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
When we adopted our rescue Pepper, an Australian Cattle Dog mix, we knew from day one that we’d have our work cut out for us when it came to entertaining her. Thus it was with a lot of excitement that we set out to review the Wickedbone Smart Bone, a mechanized toy that rolls around on its own and (according to its makers at Cheerble) can even automatically adjust its reactions to your dog’s play style.
The need to entertain high-energy pups, rain or shine, has led to a wave of high-tech dog toys, which purportedly help provide them with more of the mental stimulation and physical activity they need, often with less effort for time-crunched pet parents. The Wickedbone is one of the newer and more popular entrants into the growing field of dog tech. Worth investigating? We thought so!
How the Wickedbone Smart Bone Works
The Wickedbone measures 8.3 x 4.7 x 3.5 inches, and the rubberized tires on the ends are removable and washable. The company also sells replacement tires in a few colors—that’s particularly handy if you’ve got a chewer like ours. Unsurprisingly, it’s also spendier than your average dog toy, usually retailing at around $60.
It requires users to downloaded the app, which directs you to charge the toy via its USB micro cable before its first use.
The app turns your phone into a remote for the bone, from which you can select either manual mode (you pilot the bone using your phone as the controller) and automatic mode. Automatic mode puts the bone through its library of tricks—rolling, bouncing, shaking, and more—at random for a pre-set length of time, starting at five minutes.
When the bone is charged, you will sync your phone to the bone. To do this, hold your Bluetooth-enabled smart phone close to the bone when the lights are blue and touch “connect.”
Or at least, that’s how it should work. It took a little fiddling on our end to get it right. Eventually, we realized the bone has to be unplugged to pair, and you have a relatively short window of time after unplugging it to connect it. This felt trickier than it needed to be.
Our Rover Test Pup’s Wickedbone Review
Pepper was immediately intrigued by the snazzy little white robot bone (along with its box, of course).
Once we got the Smart Bone up and running, Pepper, a fan of all things that move, took to the Wickedbone’s wiggling, shaking, flipping, and rolling antics right away. She chased it and grabbed it with her paws, pinning it so she could move on to her favorite activity: chewing.
We found that the automatic mode worked a little too slowly to keep Pepper really entertained. She would stare at it, waiting, then it would move in a short burst, which caught her interest. But the bursts were too short and the wait time in between was too long to make it truly rewarding or interesting.
The manual mode, though? It was great. My husband and I both had fun reviewing the Wickedbone’s variety of tricks through the app and watching Pepper try to figure this thing out. There are lots of customizable aspects that you can dig into in the Smart Bone settings. For example, you can put it in carpet or hardwood mode—each adjusts the toy to move more easily or more gently on those different surfaces.
Predictably, Pepper chewed a tiny hole in one of the rubberized, removable smart bone ends as soon as I left her a minute with it unsupervised. But that doesn’t matter—it keeps on trucking. And luckily, Wickedbone thought of the chewers: you can buy replacement tires (in different colors, even!), which are made of a safe, washable material.
The manufacturer, Cheerble, also makes other smart toys, like the Wicked Ball—for a dog like Pepper that likes to grab and chew, this could be an even better option because it’s harder to grab and will roll and react even more readily than the bone due to its shape.
It only took one session for Pepper to get excited to see the Wickedbone again and to seek it out. When we had the Smart Bone plugged in on the counter, she’d pop up on her back legs to check on where we put it—a sure sign of a winner.
In order to turn the toy off, you have to quit the app. To reconnect, you plug the bone in, unplug it, and re-pair it—this is a minor annoyance in an otherwise great toy.
Final Verdict: Is the Wickedbone Worth It?
We say yes! The Wickedbone Smart Bone is a good, solid interactive toy that should keep many dogs (and their pet parents) entertained. But our review revealed a few kinks, like the pairing situation, that are just annoying enough that the Wickedbone may not be the first toy we reach for when we’re up for a quick play session. As with most toys, this one needs supervision.
Who would like this:
- Pet parents looking for an interactive choice for indoor or outdoor play
- Adults and kids who enjoy exploring gadgets for their dogs
- Dogs who enjoy chasing things that move, shake, and make noise
- Anyone looking for novel mentally-stimulating challenges for their dog
- Pet parents who are less mobile or who generally prefer a way to play with their dog that’s less physically strenuous
Who wouldn’t like the Wickedbone:
- Pet parents who don’t like messing around with tech, especially if it’s imperfect—the phone pairing function of the Wickedbone needs some work
- Dogs who are super chewers—while you wouldn’t leave a dog unsupervised with this toy in general, a bigger dog on a chew-and-destroy mission could pin this down eventually for a chew session
- Dogs who are frightened of odd movements or noises
Find on Amazon Find on Cheerble
- Our 16 All-Time Favorite Dog Chew Toys to Keep Our Buddies Busy
- Ready, Set, Launch! 9 Favorite Ball Thrower Dog Toys for Active Dogs
- 6 Great Games and Activities for High-Energy Dogs
- Review: A High-Energy Pup Tests Outward Hound’s Indoor Agility Kit