Earlier this month, a Japanese startup took pet tech to the next level when it revealed a specially crafted dog harness that senses your dog’s emotions. Langualess, the creators behind the invention, unveiled the hyped up product to the wonderment of dog lovers across the world.
While the perennial human desire to know what our dogs are thinking has not been cracked yet, the harness works by analysing the pup’s heart rate, and records its emotional state with the help of an on-board processor and colour-changing panel.
The product is expected to enter the worldwide market later this year. However, no release date has yet been announced, and while the company is not yet revealing its price tag either, one can imagine it’s no cheap thrill. So in the meantime, we thought we’d take a look at some of the more affordable and accessible ways in which owners can combine technology and furry friends into one portable, pet-proof package.
App store rating: 4.7
This versatile app offers a range of services for dog owners across the UK and beyond. It functions as a nationwide network of dog boarders, walkers and house sitters, allowing owners to connect with pet care services in their local area. It even provides doggy day care referrals and drop-in visits for those who just need a quick check-up or last-minute cover.
Founded in 2011, Rover calls itself the “world’s largest network of five-star pet sitters and dog walkers”. It works in over 34,000 cities, and more than 300,000 sitters are currently registered worldwide. It was started by three dog-lovers in Seattle’s tech scene, and since then has blossomed into a worldwide phenomenon that operates across the US, Canada and Europe.
The app is colloquially referred to as DogBnB, owing to the similarity with Airbnb of its interface and structure. It offers a wealth of security features such as identity verification, GPS tracking and safety quizzes for sitters and walkers. The app will also encourage sitters to provide photo updates, building a sense of trust between sitters and clients alike.
Cost: Free (with in-app purchases)
App store rating: 4.8
Puppr is the ultimate app for those in the most gruelling phase of puppy-training. Gone are the days of training books or puppy classes. Rather, this app offers a varied range of step-by-step video instructions that aim to teach your dog everything from basic obedience, such as “sit” and “stay”, to the more advanced tricks of “fetch leash” and “jump rope”.
Over 60 training videos are available on the app, each one led by celebrity dog trainer Sara Carson and her aptly-named ‘Super Collies’. The platform was developed by husband and wife team, Michael Gao and Alice Mongkonglitte, who saw a gap in the market.
Subscribers can chat with Sara in real-time, where she is on-hand to answer on-the-spot training questions that may arise. The app also comes with its own in-built clicker, in line with the app’s pledge to use “positive reinforcement” in training. Although the app is initially free, users are presented with the option of purchasing lesson packs whose titles range from ‘useful’, ‘charming’ and, for the more adventurous out there, there is even a ‘circus’ range.
Cost: Free (GPS tracker sold separately at £45)
App store rating: 4.3
Tractive uses live GPS tracking so you can always keep tabs on your four-legged friend. Pet owners can even use the app’s geofencing feature to map out a predefined ‘safe area’ for their pet. If they leave the confines of said area at any given point, the app will instantly alert the owner.
Although the app itself is free, users must purchase a GPS pet tracker that attaches to your pet’s collar. The tracker itself is waterproof, with a battery life that lasts between two and five days. The GPS signal can be located accurately from any given distance, meaning that even on far-away vacations, owners can still monitor their pet’s movements.
If your pet is inclined to sneak off on stray paths, a heat map feature is also included, allowing owners to note where their pet is spending most of their time. The most frequented areas will show up on the map as red, while paths less travelled appear as green or yellow.
Cost: Free (dog activity and sleep monitor costs £61)
App store rating: 4.6
Speaking of fitness, it’s no surprise to learn that certain apps set their sights on fitness alone. FitBark is one such addition. The app monitors your dog’s everyday activity and turns the data into “deep, actionable health insights”. One of its more unique elements is that users can link up their FitBit or Apple Watch, so you can review fitness progress in tandem with your pooch.
Don’t let the name deceive you, though, for this app is not just about fitness. Its nightly Sleep Score can track the development of skin conditions that may have previously gone unnoticed, tracking the intensity and location of scratching at night. It can also monitor mobility and pain, through monitoring both restless sleep and daytime activity.
Even trainers and vets have been known to monitor changes in mobility, osteoarthritis, or orthopaedic rehabilitation through the app, and the company has cooperated with at least 30 research institutions and vet schools. FitBark is so revered that it even played a central role in a Mayo Clinic study back in 2015. The academic medical centre used the app in its quest to evaluate the sleep of humans and dogs occupying the same bedroom, and whether this was conducive to sleep.
Cost: Free (excluding subscription)
App store rating: 4.7
Last but not least, and possibly one of the more surprising entries on this list, is the well-known, well-loved Spotify. Just this month, the streaming service announced it would be launching a series of playlists for pets, each once carefully curated based on owners and pets alike.
The launch was inspired by Spotify’s own research, which discovered that 71% of pet owners play music to their pets, while 80% believe that their pet actively enjoys listening to music. A further 46% of people felt that music was a stress reliever for their furry friends, so it’s no surprise that soft rock and classical music was unveiled as the “genre pets seem to prefer”.
In light of this, Spotify now creates carefully curated playlist based on pet owner’s tastes and pet’s character attributes. The app says the “unique experience” crafts algorithmically generated playlists for pets, based on their own traits and personalities to ensure that the right “vibe” is achieved.