Technology is constantly improving, including pet products. There are lots of ways we can interact with our dogs when we’re not home, but there aren’t any ways for dogs to initiate the interactions. So, researchers have come up with a way for dogs to contact us, and it’s called the DogPhone.
The DogPhone is an object that allows your furry friend to initiate a video call with you while you’re not home. It differs from other types of dog cameras because it gives both you and your dog options. So, if your dog is feeling lonely, all they have to do is grab a toy to see your face!
What is the DogPhone?
The device known as the DogPhone is a ball that triggers a video chat when it’s moved. If the dog picks up the toy or even just bumps it, the phone will start ringing. Then, the human can answer the dog’s call if they’re able. Humans can also call their dogs through the product.
“All this [existing] technology allows you to measure your pets’ steps or ring your pets or remotely give your dog food, but your dog doesn’t really have any choices,” said Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, the first author of the research used for this device.
Hirskyj-Douglas’ 9-year-old Labrador Retriever named Zack helped test this product. Zack used the DogPhone for 16 days while his mom wasn’t home. He called her an average of five times a day, but researchers believe most of the times were on accident. That’s because some of the times her called her, he seemed uninterested in the video chat.
However, researchers can’t rule out the fact that Zack might understand the correlation. Dogs could trigger the camera in unique ways based on what they learned in the past. So, just because it seemed like Zack was accidentally bumping into the toy doesn’t mean he had no idea what he was doing.
The Future of Canine Communication
Hirskyj-Douglas believes that this technology could greatly help dogs and dog parents in the future. Yet, there’s a lot more research that needs to be done. While the phone could help dogs with separation anxiety, it’s also possible that it could make them more anxious if they see their human on the screen but can’t see them in person.
As researchers improve this unique device, Hirskyj-Douglas is already brainstorming other ways to help dogs feel less lonely and more independent.
“Whatever form that takes, we’ve taken another step towards developing some kind of ‘dog internet,’ which gives pets more autonomy and control over their interaction with technology,” Hirskyj-Douglas said. “That could help the ‘pandemic puppies’ find new ways to deal with the stress of being home alone as their owners return to work.”
It might seem hard to believe that dogs can understand the correlation between a toy and a video call, but service dogs learn complicated skills like that all the time. The DogPhone might not work well or be helpful for every dog, but it’s amazing how pet-related technology is always advancing.