En español | People over 55 own 36 percent of the dogs in the United States — which works out to about 40 million dogs living with older people. There’s a wave of pet tech products to keep those pups entertained while their humans are gone. The gadgets will help alleviate the guilt you feel when you walk out of the house after telling your sad-faced pup “Mommy/Daddy will be back in a bit.” They’ll also keep your dog child from getting bored and eating the coffee table.
Ever wondered what your dog does while you’re gone? This app-controlled camera/treat dispenser has you covered. You can turn on the Wi-Fi camera with your smartphone to look in on your fur child and talk to him through a speaker. Fill it with treats and you can give your dog a goodie at the press of a virtual button. A tone sounds before the treat is dispensed, so your dog will learn to stand in front of the camera when you want to see him.
Play with your dog while you’re away with this toy you can control with your smartphone. It’s shaped like a classic Kong, and uses sounds and lights to give your pup puzzles to solve. When he does, the PupPod signals an automated treat dispenser that gives him a reward for being so smart. The puzzles get harder, so your dog won’t get bored. PupPod also keeps tabs on how many puzzles your dog has solved and how long they took him.
Your dog can play fetch even when you aren’t home with this automatic ball launcher. The device kicks on when your dog drops his ball in the chute, throwing it between 10 and 30 feet. As long as he keeps bringing the ball back to iFetch, iFetch keeps throwing it. There are three models: iFetch Original, which throws mini tennis balls for small and medium-size dogs; iFetch Frenzy, which throws small balls a short distance for small breed dogs in apartments; and iFetch Too, which throws full-size tennis balls for large dogs.
Turn on this motorized, bone-shaped toy before you leave and it will move around and play with your dog. GoBone is essentially a set of wheels on an axle with a bone-shaped covering. You can set the speed and how long it moves: faster and for longer periods for a younger dog, slower and for shorter periods for an older one. You can also control it with your smartphone and play with your dog remotely. If you work from home and are on a phone call, put your dog in another room with his GoBone on automatic and you can talk without interruption. Because nothing says unprofessional like being drowned out by a barking dog when you’re on the phone with your boss.
Music soothes the savage beast and the lonely dog. This Bluetooth speaker comes loaded with 90 minutes of music developed by sound behaviorists to lower stress in dogs. Pet Tunes is small enough to take when you travel or send with your dog when he goes to the groomer. You can download additional playlists of dog-specific music from Spotify, songs with titles like “Puppy Petting Time” and “Companionship.”
This is another remote camera you can control via an app, but the Petcube lets your dog call you. Yes, your dog can reach you. A motion-activated sensor will turn on the camera when your pooch steps in front of it and make a video. You’ll get a notification saying your dog sent you a “video call request” and you’ll be able to watch your dog’s selfie clip. You can also call your dog and talk to him, like Facetime for dogs.
This cable channel offers TV for pooches, not people. Its content is designed by animal behavior experts to calm dogs and keep them from feeling lonely. The channel’s on 24/7 and features short videos of happy dogs doing fun things: romping in a cornfield, chasing a Frisbee on the beach, riding in a car, playing with small children. The videos are even color-corrected to suit canine vision. Leave Dog TV on while you’re gone and your dog will be calmer and happier. Dog TV is available on Comcast XFinity, DirecTV and RCN and can be streamed via Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, iOS and Android.
Nothing stresses your dog out like getting his supper late because you got stuck at work. This app-controlled automated feeder lets you feed your pooch with your smartphone. You’ll get a confirmation alert on your phone when your dog eats, along with a report on how much he ate.
Pebby is a ball that’s equipped with a camera. So it’s part toy, part monitoring device. But unlike other pet-monitoring cameras that sit in one place, Pebby will chase your pet. Yep, you read that correctly. Put the PebbyCollar on your dog and the robot ball-camera will find him, wherever he is, and give you a live video feed of him. You can control Pebby with an app on your smartphone and play with him remotely, or you can set Pebby on automatic mode so it will play with your fur child when you can’t. The ball is made of shatterproof, industrial-grade polycarbonate, so it should stand up to the toughest chewer.
If the batteries go dead on the tech toys, order some human company for your dog with Wag, an app that lets you hire a dog walker. You can book a date and time in advance, or summon a walker to come as soon as possible. In many cities, you can have a dog walker at your dog in 30 minutes or less. Wag lets you track your dog’s walk in real time, on a map, and the walker can send you a video of the walk. You’ll get a report card at the end telling you the length of the walk and how your dog behaved.