Swiftpaws offers ‘the best chase game’ for active dogs, but it’s going to cost you money
Keeping your dog entertained and engaged is an ongoing challenge for owners, especially those with pandemic puppies now in their teenage years where they are “acting,” just like human adolescents.“
As someone with two active dogs and a general feeling of worry that they aren’t as happy as they could be, I’m always on the lookout for interesting activities to engage them mentally and physically. In other words: Hello my name is Grace and I am the person who bought things like a herd ball, horse toys, tug, and one physiotherapy ball, all in a quest for enrichment for two dogs who generally also find their happiness in sticks on the ground and empty boxes.
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Enter: keen paws. Considered “the best chasing game ever”, the product adopts some of the basic mechanics behind lure course Where Fast CAT, dog sports where puppies hunt a mechanized lure, it’s also quite an investment at $ 449.99. Is it worth it?
Before even thinking about where to install the game, charge the battery as it will take a few hours before it’s ready. Take the time to read the instructions and familiarize yourself with the parts – I found the instructions confusing even after looking at the 14 minutes installation video. The main components of Swiftpaws are a main hub (powered by the rechargeable battery) and three pulleys, all of which you lay out on a flat, grassy area to create a course in your desired shape. The main hub drives a string through each pulley, whipping a plastic flag around the course under a user-operated remote control. Tip: The installation video mentions a specific knot to secure the twine or tie the flag, but using any knot you already know works well.
Take a look at what’s in the box.
Credit: Grace Lee Kang
I installed and tested Swiftpaws in two scenarios: a private yard with my two dogs, and an empty dog park (about the size of a children’s softball field) with five dogs. Based on both experiences, the product works well in a small suburban yard, but I highly recommend finding the largest area possible to maximize fun and space to run, as it is designed for 200 to 200 runs. 300 feet.
After finding a space to install the main hub and pulleys, be sure to plot your course. The route of the course is determined by where you decide to place your pulleys so that you can customize it. I created wide turns to avoid injury for horny dogs who don’t know better – consider making less of a square and more of a pentagon shape where the dogs don’t pivot so hard.
In the last step of setup, tie one of the included plastic flags anywhere on the string and press the remote to see how it works (no dogs). When testing the route, the rope and pulley setup was sensitive and a bit finicky, so you’ll likely need to adjust one or both to get the right line tension for your terrain.
The “best chasing game” in action
For dogs with less natural instincts, Swiftpaws has a guide on how to introduce them to play to encourage play. I tried the introductory protocol with my dogs (basically holding them back until they were interested) and they basically became possessed demons screaming to reach the flag as soon as it started to move. The flag whips along the course, changing direction with the user-operated remote control. At one point, my dogs evolved before my eyes and became the equivalent of jurassic park velociraptors open doors. Instead of running around like idiots, they found out that you could just get the flag by biting the string and cutting the line or, you know, knocking over a pulley. The main hub’s battery should last 10 minutes, but I’ve never had the chance to play this long due to their guerrilla tactics. After I reset the game I didn’t want to push them – they would have passed out from exhaustion before stopping to take a break.
Credit: GRACE LEE KANG
With the largest group of dogs on the largest course in the dog park, each dog interacted with them differently. Hudson, a golden retriever, was a dedicated athlete who never strayed from the course and forgot everything he had ever known or loved except the white flag that fluttered around. Louis the Breton spaniel became obsessed with pulleys and lay there watching them, licking the blanket, hoping more flags would emerge. Fred, an Australian Shepherd, believed to be the # 1 upcoming seed in the field, sadly passed away and only wanted to round up the other maniacs. He was sidelined and his career ended abruptly before it even started.
Is it good Louis?
Credit: GRACE LEE KANG
Play with caution
There are some safety devices like an automatic shutdown after 90 seconds of play (this may seem short, but that’s plenty of time for a dog to sprint), and a stall feature that cuts off power if it senses your pet walking on the line or if the line slows down from an obstacle (eg a rock).
Other than that, you should always pay attention to the way your dogs interact with the product. Follow the safety recommendations. Dogs with obsessive or over-stimulated tendencies? Probably not a big activity for them. Know your pet’s fitness level and monitor the temperature outside. Warm them up before sending them off for a full sprint. Keep water available and enforce breaks.
Is Swiftpaws Worth It?
keen paws is amusing. For a dog with any type of prey or prone to hunting things, this will be interesting for them. But it is also a flirt pole. Or a recovery game. And the setting up of the course is a little annoying each time for the 10 minutes of chaotic pleasure that we get from it.
If you are looking for a new game to play with your dog, or if you can share the cost with others, it is worth a try. Ideally, this would be something you could rent and play with rather than pouring hundreds of dollars into something you probably won’t use every day. Until then, Swiftpaws has a 30 day return policy if you are on the fence and want to decide for yourself.
Grace Lee Kang is a creative director and writer. She hates writing biographies, but enjoys writing about the romance of time travel as the # 1 entertainment genre, the niche cultures, and the various bloops that take up her brain space.