Smart way to calm pets Road app cost stays a mys­tery

Hu­man love best: RSPCA


PET own­ers are us­ing tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate makeshift dog­gie day­care cen­tres at home, in­stalling in­ter­net-savvy gad­gets to check on their pups from afar, host video chats, and even to throw them dog treats.

An­i­mal be­hav­iour spe­cial­ists said the tech­nol­ogy had the po­ten­tial to help anx­ious dogs and pet own­ers try­ing to soothe them dur­ing work days, but the RSPCA warned they were “in no way a sub­sti­tute for the phys­i­cal care and at­ten­tion that a pet needs”.

The tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing the new Petcube Bites de­vice and Furbo Dog Cam­era, is part of a grow­ing smart home trend that is fore­cast to rev­o­lu­tionise Aus­tralian houses next year.

Aus­tralian shop­ping ex­pert Kathy Sheeran said smart pet tech­nol­ogy was be­com­ing a huge trend this hol­i­day sea­son as con­sumers sought to buy some­thing for ev­ery­one in the fam­ily. “Pet prod­ucts are a big thing this Christ­mas,” she said.

“We spend bil­lions of dol­lars a year in Aus­tralia on our pets and pet cams have be­come very pop­u­lar.”

An­i­mal be­havioural con­sul­tant Dr Cam Day said the de­vices, which ranged from $50 to $400, weren’t just a nov­elty but a use­ful tool for treat­ing dogs with sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety dis­or­ders.

“They’re a great idea, mainly be­cause the way work rou­tines are go­ing none of us are work­ing the 37.5-hour week and many dogs don’t tol­er­ate ab­sences like that,” he said.

“Who cares about the smart air­con­di­tion­ers and the TV and the robotic vac­uum clean­ers? We need ro­bots to look af­ter our dogs these days.”

Symp­toms of anx­ious dogs in­cluded whin­ing, howl­ing and cry­ing, he said, though some dogs left alone could de­velop panic dis­or­ders, lead­ing to de­struc­tive be­hav­iour.

“I think these are won­der­ful de­vices,” he said.

A spokes­woman for the RSPCA said the smart pet tech­nol­ogy could pro­vide “use­ful insight”, but warned they could not re­place hu­man com­pan­ion­ship.

“They are in no way a sub­sti­tute for the phys­i­cal care and at­ten­tion that a pet needs,” the spokes­woman said. THE Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment has re­leased yet an­other app but doesn’t know what it cost tax­pay­ers.

The free Road Re­port NT app helps driv­ers map their jour­ney by pro­vid­ing up­dates on the lat­est road con­di­tions any­where across the Ter­ri­tory.

The new app joins the pre­vi­ously re­leased MyFuel NT web­site and an­other app for re­port­ing anti-so­cial be­hav­iour to be rolled out early next year.

The Gov­ern­ment copped flak when it was re­vealed its MyFuel NT site was ac­cessed just 26,000 times in a year, but cost $250,000.

A spokesman for In­fra­struc­ture, Plan­ning and Lo­gis­tics Min­is­ter Eva Lawler said the app meant in­for­ma­tion pre­vi­ously only avail­able on the road­ web­site would now be ac­ces­si­ble via smart­phone and tablet.

“With the wet sea­son upon us, the app is a free and easy way to check road con­di­tions any­where in the NT, plan a jour­ney and travel safely,” he said.

The spokesman said the Road Re­port app was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween de­part­ments and Charles Dar­win Uni­ver­sity. “It’s part of a pro­gram which de­vel­ops a wide range of projects and DIPL can’t put a spe­cific dol­lar fig­ure on the de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

The Petcube Bites smart home de­vice lets pet own­ers mon­i­tor their furry friends from afar us­ing in­ter­net-con­nected cam­eras, and even throw them treats re­motely

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