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A little something for the dog days of summer

As a car guy (and a tech guy), I often find myself blogging about topics related to automotive technology. And then sometimes I remember that I’m also a dog guy (and a tech guy), and I start noticing that there are an increasing number of apps related to pet care. When it comes to pet technology, I’m a bit old school. Dog, meet dog bowl. Flea collar, meet dog. Yet I still find the technology aimed at pet owners pretty interesting.

You’ve probably seen ads on TV for dog walking startups like Wag, which is part of the “on demand” economy that includes Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit, the app that Wag is most akin to. Unlike TaskRabbit, which connects consumers to individuals willing to run errands, take care of household tasks (like assembling IKEA furniture), and pet care, Wag is strictly for the dogs. What the dog walking apps have in common with other “on demand” apps is their use of smartphone and location technology.

Dogs, of course, aren’t always out walking. In my experience, they spend a lot of time lolling around the house and napping. But that’s apparently because they’re bored. To manage pet boredom, and maximize your dog’s intellectual potential and engagement, there are a number of smart toys on the market. Personally, we spent more time maximizing the intellectual potential of our kids than our dogs, but it’s good to see there are options that go beyond stuffing peanut butter and cheese into a Kong to give your pups something to do when you’re not around. 

Varram is a pet fitness robot. You can schedule activities for your dog, or control things in real time via smartphone app.  Your dog chases the robot around, and the robot can even toss treats. iFetch and iDig are a bit less techie than the Varram robot, but the iFetch lets you automate the admittedly boring task of tossing tennis balls to your dog. And iDig gives your dogs the opportunity to dig something other than your rugs.

There are also apps that let you automate your dog door, and apps to control what’s dispensed in the feeding bowls.

And to make sure that your dog is staying fit and healthy, there are any number of pet fitness trackers on the market. Some of them double as pet trackers, too. If you’re worried about tracing your dog if the tracker is removed or damaged, there’s always the subcutaneous chip. Beyond keeping tabs on activity levels/fitness, wearables can be used to monitor your pet’s health and also keep track of different behaviors – like more trips to the water bowl – that may signal a possible health issue before it becomes a real problem.

Speaking of pet health, while I did note that we focused on the intellectual development of our children and pretty much have always let our dogs be dogs, I failed to mention that one of my daughters is a veterinarian. Allie, who from early on was an equestrian, specializes in caring for horses. There’s plenty of equine-related tech out there, and larger animal tech will be a topic for another day. In the meantime, Allie has two dogs of her own, and next time I see her I’ll be asking her what if any tech apps and devices she’s using for them.