Tech Trends in the Pet Industry
Dog accessories have become so high tech! It used to be that all you needed to have for your dog was a plain ole leash, collar, bed, and bowl. Done. Times are a-changin’! Just as you and I have to have the latest in electronics, nowadays your dog does too! The technology trends in the pet industry just prove that. And who doesn’t want to have the coolest dog?
Some mechanical or electronic items have become the “norm” over the years. We’re all familiar with automatic food and drink dispensers. Well, those items are quite antiquated compared to what we have to choose from these days! Even doggie hotels have evolved into luxurious lodgings with color TV’s and cable!
Let’s take a look at all the fun and functional electronic and mechanical items you can get for your pampered pooch!
Dog GPS Trackers
There are any number of GPS Trackers for dogs on the market. Some clip onto a dog’s collar and some are actually built into the collar. These are great to have, particularly if you have a dog who likes to roam. You can track your dog within a minimal .5 mile radius on up to an unlimited wide area via satellite. Some trackers actually monitor your dog’s activity and then record it on your smartphone (see activity trackers below). There is a subscription fee, or you can spend more upfront and eliminate a monthly subscription, however, many trackers still need to connect to a cellular service.
Pet Activity Trackers
Kind of like a “Fitbit” for dogs, lots of people are now monitoring their dog’s activity. In fact, one popular brand named “FitBark” is incredibly similar to the Fitbit. With a clip to collar FitBark, you can monitor your dog’s activity, sleep quality, distance traveled, calories burned, behavior, and overall health. You can also use this information to compare your dog to others of the same breed.
The PetPace is another very impressive activity tracker for dogs. In addition to the features of FitBark, you can also monitor your dog’s temperature, pulse, heart rate, respiration, calorie intake and calories burned. An app on your smartphone records trends, health history, daily progress and more.
Pet Music Systems
My husband is somewhat of an audiophile, so when he saw an opportunity to get our dog his own music system, he jumped on it. Now Rex has a tiny little stereo that plays pre-recorded pet-calming music when we are away. We bought the system particularly to use when traveling. Our hope was that the music would alleviate any anxiety Rex may experience when we left him alone in our hotel for short periods of time. It seems to work.
Pet music boxes are battery-powered or rechargeable so there are no cords or electricity to worry about. They’re small enough to place on top of furniture – away from your dog’s reach. They have an amazing tonality… not a transistor-like, staticky noise, but rather a rich, full sound.
There are several pet “music boxes” on the market now, claiming to be clinically proven to reduce pet stress. Music is a powerful tool in relieving stress for humans. If you have a “nervous nellie”, you may find that getting your pup its own music system is just the thing!
Canine Stress Relief Sonic Collar
This is similar to above in that this collar uses music to calm a dog that suffers from anxiety triggered by thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud noises. I’ve only seen one of these types of collars online, but what a cool idea. It’s nearly impossible to calm a dog when they are afraid of loud noises as their natural instinct is to run (fight or flight response). Snap on the collar, better yet – add it to a thunder-shirt, and you may have the perfect combo to comfort your noise fearing pup!
Pet Electronic Collars
While we’re on the subject of collars, let’s not forget electronic collars, or “e-collars”? Also known as remote training collars, this collar includes a wireless remote and receiver. With an e-collar, you can send a signal to your dog in response to unsafe or negative behavior. It is not intended as punishment, but rather a tone, vibration, or tingle that gets your dog’s attention.
Many people are afraid of electronic collars. I was too until one of our Holiday Barn Pet Resorts’ Professional Dog Trainers attached one to my arm to demonstrate what a dog feels when the collar is activated. It’s similar to a “tickle” … just enough for your pup to think, “Hey, what was that?”, or “Why does that happen every time I jump on the counter?” It’s annoying to them so that they will avoid doing whatever it is that produces the signal.
“No Bark Collars” also fall into the category of e-collars. These devices attach to the collar (or are embedded in the collar) and will send a signal via vibration or spray to the dog when he/she barks. Microphones inside the collar trigger the signal. These signals are bothersome to a dog and will discourage unwanted barking. No Bark Collars are for problematic dogs that tend to bark habitually – not to prevent your dog from ever barking. That would be cruel.
E-collars get a bad rap. Sometimes referred to as a “shock” collar, some on the market have the ability to go from a tingle to an unpleasant jolt. Because of the potential for over-correction, E-collars should only be used by trained professionals.
Electronic Tennis Ball Launcher
A friend of mine has a dog that is undeniably obsessed with chasing a tennis ball. No one has ever been able to tire her out during a game of fetch. An automatic tennis ball launcher would be “just the thing” for this active girl. Rather than continuously throwing a ball, just put the ball into an opening atop the launcher, and the ball is mechanically thrust though the air – much to the enjoyment of your waiting pooch! You can even train your dog to retrieve the ball and put it in the opening himself. The result? Hours of mental and physical stimulation! So cool.
I love knowing what my dog is doing while I’m away from home. When we purchased a camera that allowed a feed to my smartphone, I could watch Rex sleep all day! That’s pretty much all he did, but many dogs are more active when alone in the house and it’s good to be able to check on them. If you have a dog that is aging or ill, it’s great to be able to make sure they are safe and comfortable when you’re away. There are many cameras available with features ranging from motion-detecting to night vision. These cameras are also useful for home security.
With today’s ever-advancing technology, you can now buy a camera that not only allows you to see your pet but also talk to them and even give them a treat! It’s called the “Furbo Dog Camera”. Amazing, right? All we need now is one that also takes the dog outside for a potty walk in our absence, right?!
Automatic Dog Treat Dispenser
In addition to treat dispensers attached to cameras and electronic tennis ball launchers, there is one non-electronic gadget by ToomLight that does both. This product was particularly created for puppies. Your puppy learns that if he places a ball in the opening of the product, treats are immediately dispensed from the side and the ball launches from the front. Interactive toys like these are so good to entertain your puppy when you are not able to do so.
A “bark translator” is a mechanism you put on a dog’s collar, that translates their barks into human words. Do you believe it? The manufacturer of one of the most popular bark translators, Takara, insists that there is real science behind their product, the “Bowlingual Voice”. They say it is based on analysis by the Japan Acoustic Laboratory, a private research lab, of thousands of barks from over 80 breeds. The JAL grouped the barks into one of six moods according to the bark’s digital voiceprint or sound wave shape: happy, sad, frustrated, needy, on-guard and assertive. To make the translator even more fun, they added human phrases to coincide with the moods. For example, a barking dog while playing fetch translates as “happy”; so the human words behind the happy mood might be “Let’s do this all day!”
It sounds crazy, but some technology inventions are kind-of crazy, right? I think they might be onto something. In fact, animal behavioral expert, Con Slobodchikoff, has studied footage of dogs engaged in a range of behaviors including growling, barking and howling, and used artificial intelligence to understand how these animals communicate. He hopes that with the help of machine learning, computers can help humans understand what a particular gesture of pets such as the wagging of the tail or growling really means. I can’t wait to see the outcome of this research!
I must specifically mention the Dogness Smart iPet Robot… because it’s way-cool. Kind of freaky, but cool. This little robot is about 10 inches high, slightly wider because of wheels, and he looks like a two-tiered snowman (for lack of a better description). From your smartphone at work, you can walk him around the house and look for your dog (via its camera “eye”). When you find your dog, you can take pictures or videos, speak and listen to him, play with him, and even give him treats! Check out the Dogness Smart iPet Robot here.
The VARRAM Pet Fitness Robot is another type of robot that is really fun for your dog! It’s a rolling cylinder that zooms around the room inviting your dog to interact. When the dog interacts, it dispenses a treat. By use of a smartphone app (of course… you gotta have one of those), you can manage play times, the number of treats dispensed, and record sleep time. You can preset schedules of playtime too. How fun!
Smart Doorbells for Dogs
How cool would it be to train your dog to ring a doorbell when he/she wants to go out to go potty?!? You can also put a smart doorbell on the outside of your door so your dog can ring it to come back in. The doorbell generally lays on the ground but can be mounted to an object or wall. All your dog has to do is touch it lightly to ring. Some smart doorbells have custom sounds to choose from.
It’s a great idea, but I can’t help but think of my manipulative (lovingly manipulative, of course) little beagle that would act like she had to go outside to potty, but what she really wanted was to sniff around the neighborhood. She was very convincing, and she knew she could persuade me that she had to “go” really bad. And since I had a fear of her peeing on the carpet, I would take her outside every time. Brat. Anyway, my point is, she would be ringing that bell all day long!!!
There’s only so much you can do with electronic or mechanical toys because we both know that none are completely indestructible up against our powerful chewers! However, there are some really fun ones out there that claim to survive even the worst chomper.
I like the “Wicked Ball”, or maybe I just like the name! The ball will shake or move to get your dog’s attention. When your dog hits or pushes the wicked ball, it responds by shaking quickly or jumping. How fun is that?!?
There are several different brands of light-up balls. Some have an erratic bounce to them too. Dogs love ‘em.
The “Intelligent Escaping Toy” is really cool and fairly inexpensive. It’s shaped like an upside-down cup. The toy has sensors that detect when your dog (or cat) is near and it runs away from them with light flashes and sounds. Isn’t that hilarious? That should keep a dog engaged for hours.
Some of these electronic toys dispense treats too.
Sleeping Tools for Dogs
Let’s not forget therapeutic, heated dog beds for the ultimate dog spoiling. We laugh, but these beds can be very comforting for arthritic dogs, seniors, puppies, pregnant dogs, or dog that are recuperating from illness or injury.
Battery-powered “heartbeats” inserted in beds and toys are also helpful, particularly for puppies. Heartbeats remind a dog of their mother’s heartbeat and is very reassuring and comforting to them. The soft, rhythmic sound can lull a restless pup into a tranquil sleep. Also, many have found heartbeats helpful in calming dogs that are stressed or anxious.
And don’t forget to plug in an aromatherapy scent diffuser in your dog’s sleeping area. Some diffusers use essential oils to promote serenity, while others use natural pheromones that a mother dog emits after birth to help her puppies feel calm and secure. How sweet.
Albert Einstein said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Oh no, let’s not let that happen. Technological trends in pet care are convenient and useful in moderation, but nothing takes the place of playing with your dog, learning your dog’s language, and the giving of your time and affection.
If you ever leave town and need a dog daycare in Richmond, VA that will give your fur baby all the love and affection it needs, reach out to Holiday Barn’s Glen Allen or Midlothian location to set a time to see our facilities.