Dog cams lead wishlists
Australian 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 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, with new devices expected to launch from companies including Samsung, Ring, Nest and Philips.
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.
“We spend billions of dollars a year in Australia on our pets and pet cams have become very popular,” she said.
Animal behavioural consultant Dr Cam Day said the devices, which ranged from $50-$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 at all,” he said.
He said installing an internetconnected camera at home had become the first step in diagnosing anxiety in dogs and developing treatment solutions, as owners could only treat what they could see. Symptoms of anxious dogs included whining, howling and crying, he said, though some dogs left alone could develop panic disorders, leading to destructive behaviour such as “pulling screen doors off their hinges” and destroying gyprock walls.
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said the smart pet technology could provide “useful insight to some pet owners into their pet’s behaviour while they are at work,” but warned they could not replace human companionship and should not be used in place of boarding or pet-sitting services during long absences.
“They are in no way a substitute for the physical care and attention that a pet needs” she said.