Which dog gadgets are worth your time and money? With the help of behaviourist Nick Jones, we round up some fun and clever buys that could help make yours and your pet’s life easier.
If you’d like to treat your dog to a high-tech gift – or you’re considering which pet gadgets might improve quality of life for both of you – be sure to choose something that fits their individual character, motivation and needs. A toy or tool that one dog loves might not interest another dog at all!
1. Pet camera
When it comes to investing in gadgets, a pet camera is top of our behaviourist Nick Jones’ list. As he notes, pet cameras are a great way ‘for owners to reassure themselves and check in on what their dog is doing when they’re not home’.
If you suspect your dog may have separation anxiety or other behavioural issues, you can use the camera to keep an eye on them and see if there are any problems to address. Equally, you might find that your dog spends most of their day snoozing on the sofa! Some pet cameras come enabled with snazzy features such as night vision, two-way audio or the ability to dispense treats.
2. Automatic feeder
If you have to be out of the house around your dog’s mealtimes, but you want to make sure they still get their food during the regular timeslot, then an automatic feeder can be a great idea. These release a set amount of dry food at a pre-programmed time. Some automatic feeders can be controlled via an app on your phone, so you can feed your dog remotely with the press of a button.
If your dog is on a diet and needs carefully portioned meals, then using an automatic feeder to dispense a precise amount of food can be a great help, even when you’re at home. Some automatic feeders even come with a slow-feed option that dispenses each meal over a longer period, which is a great feature if your dog tends to eat their food too quickly.
Automatic feeders may not be suitable for multi-dog households, since the dogs could compete over the food if the owner is not present to supervise.
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3. Puzzle toys
Toys that offer plenty of mental stimulation can be a great way to keep busy dogs occupied. Many are food-related and involve hiding treats for your dog to sniff out and retrieve by sliding or lifting different pieces of the puzzle. Other puzzles may have soft toys that you hide and your dog has to pull out. Thinking about whether your dog’s primary motivation is food or toy-related will help you decide which sort of puzzle would entertain them best.
As with any toy, it’s best to use these kinds of puzzles under supervision. Nick also mentions that toys like this ‘can become contentious in a multi-dog household, so may be best suited for single-dog homes’.
4. Automatic ball launcher
For active dogs that never seem to sit still, a gadget that automatically launches balls for them to retrieve could be the perfect choice. Most of these have a wide opening at the top for you to drop the ball into before it’s launched. Before long, most dogs will figure out that if they drop the ball in the opening, it’ll soon get launched out again.
Some of these toys are battery-operated, so you can put them in the garden without needing an extension cord. As with puzzle toys, these are best used under supervision. Nick notes that some dogs can become overly obsessed with toys like ball launchers, so playtimes should be limited to sessions of around 15 minutes.
5. Dog tracker
Popping a GPS tracker on your dog’s collar before a long, off-the-leash walk can be a great way to gain peace of mind in case they go a little further than expected. They’re also good for keeping an eye on your dog’s activity levels.
There are plenty of different options on the market, from basic Bluetooth trackers to more advanced systems that include the ability to track your dog’s exercise, amounts of rest, calories burned and more. Some dog GPS trackers are free to use once you’ve bought them, and others require a monthly subscription plan, so do shop around.
Quality time over gadgets
Gadgets and gizmos can make great presents for your dog, but remember that they’re simply no substitute for quality time with you. ‘Gadgets are great, but it’s important not to rely on them too heavily,’ says Nick. ‘At the end of the day, you can’t beat a good walk with your dog.’
What are your favourite dog gadgets? Tell us on social media using the tag #PethoodStories!