Give an iPhone to a toddler and they’ll figure out how to operate it in seconds. Give an iPhone to a dog and they’ll just as soon eat it as work it. Dogs aren’t high tech. Loveable, cute, cuddly, and a drain on our finances they might be, but tech-savvy they most certainly aren’t. Which begs the question of why tech for dogs is suddenly becoming such a hot topic in the pet world. The answer lies in the fact that the tech in question might be for dogs, but it’s not the kind they need to operate themselves. There’s no canine version of Siri they need to wrap their head around, and no paw sized apps they need to learn to tap. What there is a bunch of innovative new technology that’s pushing the envelope on ways to keep our dogs healthy and happy, if not wealthy and wise. Here, we look at some of the latest technology for your dog that you need to know about… and very possibly buy.
Automatic Treat Dispensers
Furbo and Pet Tutor are two of the biggest names in treat dispensers right now. Why? The tech. Gone are the days when a treat dispenser was a packet, a pair of scissors, and you. Dispensers have gone high tech, and the end result is something that makes your life easier and your dog’s life happier. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Furbo is an interactive dog camera with a connected app that lets you keep a beady eye on your pooch when you’re away from home. It also lets you talk to them and dispense treats (which, in a nice little touch, are tossed just after the device makes a clicking sound – ideal if you’re using positive reinforcement clicker training). Factor in dog-friendly color signals to grab their attention, and you’re looking at one very smart piece of kit. Pet Tutor operates along similar lines. Marketed as a ‘revolutionary smart wireless training and game system’, it’s basically a computerized dog treat dispenser with a choice of dispensing settings that you can operate remotely through a smart remote or app. By allowing owners to combine training with interactive fun, it promises to reduce boredom, separation anxiety, fear, and excessive barking. For multi-pet families, some feeders can control food access by reading a specific pet’s microchip – something that, as wired.com notes, is perfect if your pets have different dietary needs or are restricted to individual prescription foods.
It’s not just people that are jumping on the fitness monitor bandwagon. These days, our pets can keep an eye on their step count as well. As hillspet.com reports, fitness monitors for dogs have taken off massively in the last couple of years, and little wonder. Tag a monitor to your dog’s collar, and you’ll be able to keep a firm track of their activity and fitness level, set goals, and track their progress. There’s even accompanying apps that’ll let you register on social networks and see how your own dog is doing compared to other dogs– and there’s nothing like a bit of friendly competition make those daily walks more interesting.
Ever wondered what your dog is getting up to when you’re not around? Thanks to modern technology, you need wonder no more. Wi-Fi-enabled cameras let you keep a watchful eye on your pooch, regardless of where you are in the world. “At-home technology has been great for dog owners to see what goes on while they are away,” Khara Schuetzner, chair of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, tells Wired. “Most people wonder what their pets do all day, so a lot of the web-based camera systems give you a way to see what is going on and communicate with your pet.”
Some dogs like to wander. If yours is more of a nomad than a couch potato, a tracking device will put an end to your worries about where they are and what they’re doing. Wearable GPS devices let you keep up-to-date with where your dog is at any one time – some are even programmed to alert you if they wander outside a pre-set area. If that wasn’t enough, there are currently even more advanced options in development that will keep track of your dog’s body temperature and alert you if they start getting too hot for comfort. There’s also plans to introduce a monitor that will alert you to water levels (great for poor swimmers) and even their moods.
Facial Recognition Apps
Losing a dog is something every pet owner dreads. While the chances of them getting lost are still as present as ever, making sure they don’t stay lost has never been easier. Finding Rover is an app that’s cottoned onto the advancements in facial recognition technology and applied it to the dog world. Once you install the app on your smart device, simply take a snap of your dog’s face and upload it to the database. If they get lost and wind up in a shelter, the shelter can use the app to find your contact details and reunite you with your lost pooch.
Dogs are sociable little creatures, and, as we all know, liable to get bored if they’re left alone for long stretches of the day. But now there’s a way to interact with your pet even if you’re in a completely different place. As NBC reports, PlayDate are among a growing number of companies exploring new territory when it comes to playtime. Their remote-controlled ball lets you keep your dog entertained while you’re sat miles away in the office.
While these kinds of inventions don’t replace physical interaction (and when we get as much fun from playing with our dogs as they get from playing with us, why would we want them too?), they do serve as a great way of keeping in touch with our dogs in ways we previously never imagined possible.