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This site is called Tech For Dogs so I hope I’m not throwing in any spoilers when I say that the answer comes out as a Yes!
The first thing to point out is that dog tech is not limited to hi tech dog gear although it will cover a lot of that.
What Is Dog Tech?
A lot of technological innovation goes into modern fabrics and material to help keep your dog snug, warm or cool, and safe. Technology is used to design new and better dog products with no sign of a battery or microchip – think of the no tangle dog lead, for example – yes, there are such things.
So if it’s new, if an element of tech was used to design or make it, and if it can benefit you and your dog, we’ll take a look at it here.
When they hear “Tech for Dogs”, some readers may be thinking about hi tech, electronics, wireless devices and so on. And, yes, that is certainly one of our major areas of interest, too. After all, hi tech has benefited our lives, so why not see how it can help our furry pals?
Having said that, not everyone will want or need every bit of dog technology so it is worth discussing the idea, if only to see what you might be missing and how it might be helpful.
Before we get into modern doggie tech, let’s go back to when dogs were first domesticated. Depending on which source you believe it may have been anywhere from 12-17 thousand years ago. A bit before my time…
Back then the only ‘tech’ they had was probably a lead of sorts and a dog crate or cage. As I said in the About Me section, back in the day the most hi tech gear I had for my dogs was a retractable lead. And, let’s face it, until this relatively modern tech was developed, that’s all any dog owner had.
So do we actually need more dog tech? What can it do and what benefits does having a high tech pet offer?
Just to be clear, you don’t need dog tech. But then do you need your computer or mobile phone? Are you old enough to remember life without them? How did we manage?
Life Before Google
Remember life before double glazing? Jet airplanes? TV? Antibiotics? GPS and sat navs? What about searching the internet before Google?
Sure, we can live without all these things but when they make life better, safer, more entertaining, easier and more fun, why would you want to?
So when a new tool or aid comes along that might make your life or your dog’s life better or easier or just plain more fun, at the very least, it’s worth checking to see if it can be useful. I hope you agree.
One of the potential problems with certain types of new idea is that they may be a ‘Solution in search of a problem’.
A Solution Looking For A Problem
I absolutely love this phrase. It’s often some politician or company ‘boss’ or marketing ‘guru’ who floats an idea which filters down to grass roots and becomes a ‘product’. However, no research has been done on whether it is needed or wanted and continuation of the project is usually to further the politician’s personal ambitions, the boss’s golden handshake or the marketing guy’s bonus.
Ok, enough of the pseudo rant.
One example in the UK is the HS2, a proposed railway system linking London with Birmingham and the East Midlands. In 2013 a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Report on HS2 said: “The Department has yet to demonstrate that this is the best way to spend £50 billion on rail investment”.
£50 billion! And you can bet the price will double by the time it gets built. If it does. That could end child poverty. Probably total poverty in the UK. House the homeless. Boost the NHS. Make the rich richer. You choose. Er, well, no you don’t.
With so much money at stake/up for grabs you can see how invested interests will be lobbying to get it built.
Sorry any non-UKers or anyone who hasn’t the remotest interest in this. E.g., anyone living in the North or Scotland except it’s your money they’re using. Hey ho…
The Internet of What?
Let’s get a bit more techy, what about IoT – the Internet of Things? Technology allows us to connect just about everything – fridges, washers, cookers, lights, garage doors, TV… You may already have app-controlled lighting.
But really, do you need a device in your fridge that tells you when you’re out of coleslaw and orders more from the supermarket? Heck, maybe you do. But it’s like those mini bars in some hotels that know when you’ve taken out one of the over-priced miniatures from the fridge and automatically charges it to your room hoping you’ll be so drunk at check out that you won’t notice. Thing is – if you pick it up to look at it and then put it back, you still get charged. Doh! Massive fail! But I bet hotels have made a fortune by charging for drinks that haven’t been used.
But some IoT can definitely be useful. Switching your oven on when you’re leaving the office late for example, and heating control that goes beyond a simple thermostat. Even programming playlists on your speaker system, something a friend of mine does while we’re chatting or eating or playing games, and he can take requests without leaving his seat. But the IoT has yet to really take off. The IoT is neat but it’s currently looking for problems to solve.
There’s more about the technology behind the IoT here.
However, it has already found some dog tech things which we look at throughout this Tech for Dogs site.
Anyway, I’m simply saying that not all ideas are useful or practical.
Back to Dog Tech
Which brings us back to dogs and dog tech.
If you look at some of the developments in the dog tech market you may think they’re not for you and that’s fine. But some simple tech I could really have used with Murphy was a dog location or tracking device. They were available; I just didn’t think I needed one!
Lost In France
On holiday in France, he wandered off in a wood we were walking through. I didn’t know it well and he did not return when called. I ran all over the place, trying to get around its perimeter – I was much fitter then! – fearing he might have got lost or wandered onto the road or had an accident.
Half an hour later I did find him, coming out of the woods close to where he went in, wagging his tail. He’d obviously had a great time whatever he’d been doing. Grrr. Not a thought for the stress he caused his owner.
Great Dog Tech Ideas
That’s just one example. The potential is growing all the time. As well as trackers, there are devices to monitor your dog’s fitness and activity, help keep them safe, feed them automatically, ones to let you see and talk to them and even play with them remotely. Hmm, okay we’ll see how those check out.
There’s even – believe it or not! – research going on to learn how to communicate with animals. Give it ten years, they say. Hmm to that, too, but it would be nice to know what the growls and wuffs mean. Move over Doctor Dolittle!
Meanwhile, there is some very useful and practical dog tech around that you can use right now for both you and your dog’s benefit. You don’t have to use it but then you don’t have to use your mobile phone. No you don’t. Really…