A big selling point of activity tracker technology is that it often includes GPS tracking for a small monthly fee. Dog owners are able to link the device to their home Wi-Fi, and anytime their dog leaves that area the app will send push alerts to linked phones. If the dog is with a linked phone belonging to a guardian, pet sitter, or dog walker, that information is displayed in the app alongside the dog’s exact location.
My dog wears a FitBark activity tracker with GPS, and I recommend it to everyone as added peace of mind. A GPS tracker, of course, is not a replacement for leashing your dog, and it’s no replacement for a collar with up-to-date tags and your dog being microchipped, but it adds a bit of security so that when a dog gets lost their location can be immediately pinpointed.
Unfortunately, not all wearables are good for dogs. Although most help dogs live safer and healthier lives, products like shock collars (or e-collars as they are sometimes called) have also become more prevalent. Although banned for being inhumane in many parts of Europe, e-collar technology that is designed to cause pain or discomfort remains in use in the US.
Programmable Bells and Buttons Make It Easier to Communicate With Our Dogs
Most pet tech helps us to learn more things about our dogs, but some actually help us learn from our dogs.
As a dog trainer, one of my favorite things about working with dogs is learning to communicate with a different species, and technology has made that much easier. The Mighty Paw Smart Bell is recommended by Khara Schuetzner, chair of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, as a “great tool for anyone who wants to teach their dog to indicate when they need to go outside to potty.”
The bell can be installed indoors or out, and the accompanying wireless transmitters allow it to be heard anywhere in your home. This is a high-tech version of putting bells on the door for a dog to ring when they want to go outside.
Looking for more advanced communication with your dog? A new dog-training movement inspired by speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger and her dog Stella have inspired a field called Alternative Communication dog training. Using recordable answer buttons like these programmed with words your dog knows, like dinner, play, and walk, and pressing the buttons yourself before each activity, your dogs will start to make the connection and soon press the buttons themselves to communicate with you. Combine this with a little patience, and your dogs can learn to communicate their wants and needs in a way we can understand.
Cameras and Treat Dispensers Keep Your Dog Safe and Happy Even When You’re Away
Ever wonder what your dog does when you aren’t home? Now you can watch them to find out! “At-home technology has been great for dog owners to see what goes on while they are away,” says Schuetzner. “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.”
Wi-Fi-enabled cameras you can watch from your phone can be especially helpful if you are raising a new puppy or supporting a new rescue dog adjusting to life in your home. With a puppy-cam you can see if your dog is calm or distressed. This can be particularly useful if your dog shows any symptoms of separation anxiety. Even better, you and your dog’s trainer will be able to look at footage and figure out what is triggering your dog. Is it the act of you leaving? Or is it something that happens while you have been gone?