Forget light-up balls and electronic doggie doors. Here’s some dog-related technology that’s actually cool. These toys range from totally useful to cute and slightly absurd, but we promise your dog (or your dog-loving friends and family) will love them.
Best of all, most of these gadgets won’t break the bank and will add something significant to the recipient dog’s health, well being, and peace of mind.
OK, OK. Buying a subscription TV channel for your dog sounds a bit … much. But DogTV is the kind of programming your dog wants to watch; it’ll keep her engaged and curious while you’re at the store or at work. And an engaged dog is a dog that isn’t eating your furniture or “crying” loudly enough that the neighbors write you nasty email.
DogTV is available from some cable providers and as a Roku channel.
About: “DOGTV’s 24/7 programming helps stimulate, entertain, relax, and habituate dogs with shows that expose them to various movements, sounds, objects, experiences and behavior patterns, all from a dog’s point of view.”
Perfect for: The dog who loves puppy videos on YouTube.
Price: $10 a month
For the curious or scientifically minded pet owner, check out these Wisdom Panel DNA kits. With a simple cheek swab, you can find out what breeds went into making your lovable mutt the gorgeous creature she is — or you can certify your high-dollar designer dog as the bona fide offspring of two purebreed parents.
About: “Where does Buddy get his curly tail from? Why does he love digging holes in the backyard? Could I be doing more to make him happier and healthier? Your dog may not be able to tell you the answers — but his DNA can. … When you understand your dog’s natural tendencies, you can tailor a training, exercise and nutrition program to his needs.”
Perfect for: Mixed-breed dogs and their owners, especially for newer pets.
Price: $75 for mixed-breed reports
Dogs don’t have thumbs, so remote-control toys are right out, but this laser tower from Sharper Image is the next-best thing. It shoots the (harmless, we’re told) laser in 16 pattern, with a 360-degree scope for maximum play benefits.
About: “Safe, automatic rotating laser provides hours of active fun for dogs and cats. It projects a safe laser dot across the floor in unpredictable patterns that oscillate, stop, and change directions. It’s been proven to tempt even the laziest ‘couch pet-tato’ to hunt, play, chase, and pounce.”
Perfect for: The dog who’s already obsessed with laser pointers — or the dog who has to spend a fair amount of time alone at home.
So, you know Fitbit and Nike’s Fuelband, right? Well, Wandant is basically like that but for dogs. Fujitsu’s latest gadget is a tag and collar that track your dog’s every move, including footsteps, shivering, and even temperature changes. All this info uploads to a cloud-based health diary; all you do is hold the tag near a computer or smartphone. In the service, you can also input details on diet, exercise, and “dog business,” aka bowel movements. The link above will get you to Amazon’s Japanese site, where you can buy the device now; Fujitsu hasn’t yet said when Wandant will wag its way to other markets.
About: “The Wandant tag uses a three-axis accelerometer and automated inference technology to count steps based on detected foreleg movements, the speed of foreleg movements, and leg length, resulting in the pet care industry’s first automatic pedometer fully adapted for dogs. This results in highly accurate pace counts, measured automatically.”
Perfect for: The health nut and his or her companion animal.
Price: ~$120 plus $5/month for the cloud service
What’s sadder than a lost dog? Let’s not even dwell on it; the holidays are not the time to ponder such depressing hypotheticals. Instead, let’s all buy one another Taggs for our roaming-prone pets. This device takes some of the pain and stress out of one of the scariest parts of pet ownership: despite your best efforts, the dog has wandered too far out of sight during off-leash playtime or has somehow escaped through an unseen hole in the fence. Tagg clips onto a collar and provides GPS tracking for your pet. It also monitors your dog’s exercise levels.
About: “Tagg, the Pet Tracker, is a purpose-built pet tracking device that uses advanced GPS and wireless technology to track your pet’s location and activity from your computer or mobile device, 24 hours a day. If your pet strays from your Tagg zone, the Tagg system alerts you by email or text message, so you can find him on a map and bring him home.”
Perfect for: Anxious pet parents or wandering dogs
Price: $100 and $8/month
Puppy Tweets is a weird novelty, but it’ll be the all-time perfect gift for that person who lives in the overlap of the Venn diagram of “social media whore” and “totally devoted dog owner.” Basically, it’s a clip-on device for your dog’s collar that tracks their activity — sounds, movement, eating, playtime — and posts to Twitter on their behalf.
The sad part: It looks like the maker is slowly going bye-bye. Grab the last few units on Amazon and eBay and set up your account while you still can!
About: “If your dog is barking, you might get a Tweet like ‘Bark … and the whole neighborhood barks with you!’ When she’s sleeping, look out for ‘Had a wonderful dream about you. You were bringing me snacks!’ And at lunch your puppy might say ‘You at lunch? Remember the two most beautiful words in the English language: DOGGIE BAG!'”
Perfect for: See above: “Social media whore” + “devoted dog owner”
Price: Check eBay and Amazon for listings.
Images courtesy of Jolie O’Dell, DogTV.com, Petsmart.com, Sharper Image, Fujitsu, PetLoveShack, and Puppy Tweets