Looking for the right present for the dog lover in your life? We're here to help. Tech isn't just for us humans these days – you can get all manner of clever gadgets for your pets, and here we're focusing on tech for your dog.
We're going to show you some of the best products your pooch can get their paws on, and to mix things up we've done our best to avoid including too many products from the same categories.
There are fitness trackers, automatic feeders and even the doggie equivalent of game consoles. Why should your dog miss out on the tech fun just because they don't have access to a credit card?
Pod 3 Tracker
The Pod 3 is, as we write this, about the most advanced doggie GPS tracker you can buy. It’s a little cylinder that attaches to your dog’s collar to monitor its location.
There are several technologies involved. GPS is the main one, and tracks your dog’s location, to the meter, when they're outdoors. Unlike most rivals, there’s also Wi-Fi for at-home tracking, with the Pod 3 using your home network to check your pet hasn’t strayed beyond its designated 'safe zone'.
It also has a 2G/3G mobile internet connection, which broadcasts location details to Pod’s servers, so you can monitor them on a phone wherever you are.
If you run with your dog you can even use the Pod 3 as a fitness tracker – although you’re not going to see reliable results if you have an Alsatian who laps you around the park.
There’s just one issue with GPS trackers like this: as they use a mobile data connection, you have to pay a monthly subscription to keep the Pod 3 working. It’s $4.95 (£3.95, AU$5.95) a month if you sign up for a year, or $8.95 (£6.95, AU$11.95) on a rolling monthly basis.
Don’t like the look of the Pod 3? Alternatives include the Tractive GPS and Whistle 3.
FitBark’s deal is so transparent, it’s almost a pun. This is a doggie take on a Fitbit tracker, and the data it harvests is almost the same. You attach the FitBark 2 to your dog’s collar with a pair of zip ties, and an accelerometer inside tracks their activity.
The FitBark 2 doesn’t track steps, though – it deals in BarkPoints. This scoring system gives more credit for vigorous activity, so the more the sensor moves on the collar, the more points they’ll rack up.
As well as being able to chalk up your dog's stats on leaderboards, you can look at the scores of similar dogs as a guide to how much exercise yours should be getting. The app also registers a 'sleep score', which tracks the quality and duration of their naps.
Importantly the Fitbark 2 is made of high-impact polycarbonate – we don’t fancy a Fitbit’s chances if your dog decides to have a play with it, but the Fitbark 2 should be fine.
Furbo Dog Camera
Owning a dog can be incredibly rewarding, but guilt issues can arise if you have a day job. Canine anxiety and loneliness are a real problem, and you can’t really tell how big a problem it is when you're not with your pet.
The Furbo Dog Camera lets you both keep an eye on your canine housemate while you’re away, and take steps to tackle any underlying anxiety issues.
Its key feature is that it listens out for dog barks, and sends you a notification if it thinks your pet is distressed. A speaker and camera let you see them, hear them and call to them, and as the Furbo has an ultra-wide 160-degree lens it can cover most of a room.
If your dog is lonely or bored there’s a play element too. Furbo holds up to 100 dog treats – just press a button in the Furbo app and the Furbo will dispense one for your pet.
The first iFetch caused a bit of a stir when it arrived in 2013, attracting more than 1,000 backers on Kickstarter. We won’t go as far as to say it’s perfect for lazy dog owners, but it does let your pooch play by itself.
Your dog puts the ball in the top of the device, and after a short delay iFetch fires it out of the side – it's the dog-powered version of a perpetual motion machine.
There are now three versions of iFetch, suited to different sizes of dog and differing levels of dog owner laziness. Want one for indoors? The basic model is the iFetch Frenzy, which just uses gravity to make its 1.6-inch balls fly out in one of three random directions.
You can still buy the classic iFetch, which shoots the balls either 10, 20 or 30 feet, and which is powered by a class-D battery. The iFetch Too is the best pick for larger dogs, as it fires a standard tennis ball up to 40 feet.
These are low-maintenance gadgets for high-maintenance dogs.
PetSafe Smart Feed
Automatic pet feeders are invaluable if you need to spend some time away from your pets. But some you wouldn’t rely on to deliver a snack, let alone a full meal plan. PetSafe is one of the highest-rated models around – and it can hold a whole lot of food.
Its food reservoir fits in 5,678ml, and it can release specific amounts at different meal times, right up to a huge 940ml.
If your dog is a food-hound who could inhale a three-course dinner, you might want to use the 'slow feed' mode, which releases food over a 15-minute window to stop them gorging.
There are two versions of the full-size PetSafe feeder. The Healthy Pet Simple Feed has a control panel with which you set up meal times and feed amounts, while the pricier Smart Feed version looks slicker, and has Wi-Fi, enabling you to set meal times with a phone app.
You can also fire off a feed 'manually' with the app, rather than scheduling. Use this along with a dog camera to feed your pet remotely and it's the next-best thing to being there with them.
PetNet’s SmartFeeder is perhaps the most tech-packed, and one of the slickest-looking, automatic feeders available. Most of the basics are familiar. It dispenses meals of up to 1.5 cups (208g) on cue, and a phone app lets you schedule meals or release food remotely.
You’ll also get notifications when feeds happen, or if the food reservoir is running low.
There are some features not seen in most rivals, though. It integrates with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, letting you fire off a feed or check when the last chow was delivered with a smart speaker command. The SmartFeeder works with the Nest camera too, so you can play lunch monitor.
The PetNet SmartFeeder about as clever as smart home tech gets. Capacity is only half that of the PetSafe alternative, however, which might be a consideration if you have larger dogs.
This feeder is only widely available in the US at present.
Think your dog is smart? CleverPet is a way to engage their brains, and see if they really are smarter than a bowl of dog food.
It’s an automatic feeder of sorts. But to unlock their treats, they need to play a game. Three touch-sensitive light pads sit on CleverPet’s front, and the aim is to get your dog to complete puzzles to earn food.
It starts off simple, though. For the first few days, CleverPet opens automatically every now and then. It’ll then start opening after a pad press. Once that's mastered, CleverPet teaches them to recognize that pressing an illuminated pad means food. And then color complexity is added, so they’ll eventually have to match pad colors, a game that could outsmart a small child.
If this all sounds a bit much for your dog, don’t worry. CleverPet adjusts the difficulty based on their performance, so it won’t make them feel stupid, even if – whisper it – they kind of are.
Note that CleverPet currently only ships to the US and Canada.
Pet Tutor and PupPod
$446 (about £350 / AU$600)
Here’s another pick to train your dog’s brain. PupPod is an interactive toy. It senses when the dog is near, and makes a sound. The idea is you use it to teach the dog to wait for a second sound before touching the PupPod. And if they do, they earn a treat.
The delay gradually gets longer, requiring more concentration and self control.
It uses Bluetooth to communicate with a companion app on your phone, which lets you alter the duration of the delay. Want to hand out the treats yourself? Just buy the PupPod on its own, without the Bluetooth element.
There’s a higher-tech option too, the Pet Tutor. This tower of dog joy releases treats when they successfully complete a PupPod challenge. The Tutor also has a mode that rewards your dog for being quiet.
Petkit Fresh Metal Pet Bowl
Now for something simple. Petkit’s smart bowl is simply a dog bowl with an integrated weighing scale, so you can make sure you don't overfeed your dog.
Is it really smart? Only just, but there's also a companion app to add a little more tech cred. This lets you know how much food your dog is likely to need based on their breed, age and weight.
The inner bowl is metal, and removable for easy cleaning. And it’s powered by a pair of easy-to-replace AAA batteries. This product may not be high-tech, but it’s one dog gadget that won’t be left gathering dust after a short period.
This is one of the neatest doggie gadgets, but let’s be honest – this pick is for you, not your dog.
GoPro makes an action camera harness called Fetch, which lets you capture action camera footage from your dog’s perspective. You can see some great samples of this in action over on YouTube.
If your dog is a waddling pug, of course, you might not get the most exciting footage. However, strap it onto a dog sprinting across a beach and you should get viral-ready results.
GoPro says Fetch is suitable for dogs up to 54kg. It uses the company’s proprietary mount, so isn’t much use for other action cams, but all GoPro models are supported. The Hero 7 White is the most affordable GoPro camera at present – it’s water-resistant, but it lacks the 4K capture and advanced stabilization of the Hero 7 Black.