Dog tech

There are so many gadgets and gizmos for dogs on the market, especially in the run up to Christmas. From training tech, canine wearables (dog activity trackers) and safety products to surveillance tech and ‘just for fun’ apps. They’re certainly not a replacement for spending quality time with your dog, but can they help? Because let’s face it raising a pup is a full time job.


A couple of products Molly’s testing:

Findster Duo+

Molly is now 15 months old and still a firecracker. We’re working hard at recall but every now and again those squirrels are simply too much and she disappears into the trees. We (ahem I) have lost her twice. The first time in a forested area near the dreaded north circular.

I had visions of her rushing across the motorway and my heart felt like it might break. I blew the whistle and held my breath. After what seemed like a lifetime she emerged from the brush a little bedraggled.

The Findster Duo+ is a GPS pet tracker. It allows us to track Molly’s location and activity in real-time. She wears a pet module on her harness and we carry a similar guardian module. Both are synced to an app on our phones via Bluetooth. The Findster boasts a range of up to 3 miles, although this is dependent on the environment and weather. She hasn’t ventured more than a few hundred metres yet, so we’re still to test the limit.

 
 

Things we love:

  • It was incredibly easy to set up

  • It’s shockproof and waterproof, which is handy as Molly loves a dip in the river

  • Unlike other pet trackers there are no monthly subscription fees

  • You can define safe zones known as ‘virtual fences’

  • It records a detailed history of walks

  • In addition to the tracking capability it logs Molly’s activity, inc. paws walked!

Room for improvement:

  • It’s pretty chunky. Molly’s a small breed, only 9kg. No doubt the next generation will be lighter and sleeker.

  • Battery life only lasts for about 2-3 days, so we need to remember to charge it regularly for those long walks

  • We use a workaround to access the app on both our phones - logging into one account and only the individual who’s walking Molly that day has Bluetooth turned on

Findster won’t teach Molly to come back when we call, but it does give us peace of mind for those slightly terrifying moments when she’s out of sight. Molly loves nothing more than to be off lead, running free. The pet tracker gives us confidence that she isn’t lost, simply rummaging in the forest a few metres away.


Furbo

When we first heard about a dog camera that tosses treats we thought it was madness. Who would need such a thing? Surely this is dog-market mania.

We’re lucky enough to work from home, so Molly is very rarely left alone. But on that odd occasion we need to pop out without her we’re never quite sure how she copes. Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and become extremely unsettled when left alone.

Furbo offers a little insight into those unknowns.

SUPPORTED BY FURBO

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Things we love:

  • The camera quality is incredible - full HD video - inc. infrared night vision. The wide angle means you don’t miss a trick.

  • You can take photos and videos

  • Barking alerts

  • Two way audio, although Molly finds it a little confusing when Furbo speaks

  • It’s beautiful

Room for improvement:

  • The treat tosser is unpredictable… sometimes 2, sometimes 10. As we monitor Molly’s calorie intake, it’s difficult to calculate.

  • Molly quickly figured out there are more treats inside and is determined to get them. She’s certainly testing its strength.

  • It can become all consuming as Molly tries to earn more treats. We’d rather she focused on outdoor adventures, so when we’re not using Furbo we keep it out of sight.

Furbo wouldn’t be in our ‘survival kit’ for dog owners, and we wouldn’t recommend investing in one to keep your dog occupied for long periods alone. It isn’t a replacement for one to one enrichment as dogs are sociable animals. It is however a fantastic piece of kit for those little life emergencies. Just like Findster it gives you peace of mind and we all need a little bit of that from time to time.

Are you trialing any dog tech? What would you recommend, and why?