Smart technology is a powerful force. It makes our homes smarter, transforms how we connect to one another, and can even help us look after our animal companions. But are smart gadgets helping our pets lead healthier lives, or doing more harm than good?
The role smart technology takes in your pet’s life is much like the one it plays in yours. While gadgets make life more efficient, they can also lead to unhealthy behaviors. The secret is using smart technology to supplement what you should already be providing – love and quality care.
Here are some of the benefits – and concerns – of using smart technology designed for pets:
1. Gadgets can encourage your pet to stay active
Whether it’s a remotely controlled laser to paw at or a smart toy to chase, many products are designed to keep your pet active when you’re not at home. Pet activity trackers can monitor your cat or dog’s energy exertion levels and heart rate, supplying important data about his health. The downfall? These tools cannot replace good old-fashioned exercise, so make time to engage with your pet! Fresh air, interactive playtime and romps at the dog park will get you both moving and deepen your bond.
2. Technology can calm anxious pets
Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety? Two-way cameras can comfort your pet if you have to leave him home alone for more than a few hours – and let you keep an eye on him until you return. Research indicates that communicating via video may be beneficial for younger dogs who respond to high-pitched, excited voices. Older dogs, too, can recognize familiar faces on a large screen if the image is relatively still.
Just remember that your dog is comforted by your smell and touch, and that’s not something a screen can provide. While technology might be a good way to soothe his stress in a pinch, use positive training methods to combat his anxiety once and for all, or find a behaviorist who can help. If you do decide to invest in a two-way camera, leave an article of your clothing behind to add an extra level of comfort, and call on a pet sitter to keep him company if you plan to be gone for five hours or more.
3. Smart gadgets help your pet maintain a healthy weight
From smart and interactive feeders to automatic water bowls, smart technology can keep close tabs on what your pet eats and when. Some gadgets also have online apps that assess your pet’s diet and offer tips for improvement. Just remember that no amount of technology is a substitute for a healthy, natural diet. It’s up to you to determine what food is best for your animal’s needs, and ensure his mealtimes are engaging and structured to avoid behavior issues like resource guarding.
4. Technology is a tool that can keep your pet safe
Smart home technology can control pet doors for easy access to your fenced yard, and monitor carbon monoxide and smoke to provide an early warning during emergencies. GPS collars can locate your furry friend if he ever gets lost. But keeping your pet safe means being an attentive pet parent. Always supervise your dog in the yard, and keep him leashed in areas where you think he might wander off. Better safe than sorry!
5. Smart gadgets can be partners in your pet’s training
Ever wish you could catch your pet barking at the mailman, jumping on the couch, or scaling the curtains? Smart cameras can provide motion detection to catch your pet in the act. Knowledge, however, is only half the battle. You’ll still want to follow up with positive training techniques to help your pet learn from his mistakes. Use these gadgets as an extra set of eyes, and then redirect his unwanted behavior immediately.
High-tech solutions for pet problems abound – but technology can only do so much! It’s fine to use smart gadgets designed for animals, but never forget that all of your best friend’s needs can be met with tender, loving care!