5 Virtual Assistant Tech Gadgets To Make Life Easier for Your Dog & You

Virtual assistance gadgets for your dog may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

As technological improvements like high-speed Internet, document sharing, and cloud storage have made working remote increasingly more efficient and feasible, virtual assistants have become commonplace. From research and billing to social media management and email overload handling, VAs tech gadgets save businesses and companies quantifiable billable time, as well as provide better control of time-sapping tasks.

VAs for dogs are similarly efficient and effective. If you work all day and aren’t ready to put your dog into daycare or hire a walker, or just need some occasional assistance, digitally assisted VAs can help. From food and treat dispensers to health trackers and behavior modifiers, here are some of the top new VAs for people with pets.

The Link AKC Smart Collar

As the brand name implies, this VA can help you keep track of your dog, allowing you to set up digital safe zones and receive alerts when he leaves those zones. It can track his steps, and measure his activity to see if he might be sleeping too much or pacing too obsessively. It can also let you know if the house temperature is too hot or cold for your dog.

The GPS-enabled collar also can be set to emit sounds that then can be used to help train your dog, and has a built-in LED light for night walks. The downside is the spendy collar also requires a subscription fee from $6.95 to $9.95, depending on the contract you commit to.

$149 | linkakc.com

Petcube & PetCube Bites

While the Petcube is solely a 2-way audio and monitoring device with an autoplay option, the Petcube Bites comes with a treat dispenser. Both offer a high-def camera that allows you to see, talk, play, and reward your pet remotely. The PetCube includes a built-in laser toy with an autoplay mode that keeps him entertained when you’re too busy to digitally interact. You can also play fetch and fling a ball remotely with an optional thrower arm (additional price).

The Petcube Bites flings him treats. The treat “flinger” holds up to 2 pounds (about 100 small dog cookies) of snacks and can throw them as far six feet. The camera for both of these devices streams in 1080p HD video with 3x digital zoom and 138-degree wide-angle view. It also offers a night vision option for low light and no light viewing. Sound and motion alerts let you know of major events at home (like someone breaking in or a weather event).

Petcube Play through the Petcube App on your phone—both iOS and Android compatible (iOS 9.3+ and Android 5.1+) eases the whole monitoring/interaction process. Sign up for Petcube Care to get cloud recording with up to 10 days of timeline history. The video recording is automatically triggered by sound, motion, auto play mode, and includes an optional Do Not Disturb mode.

$149 and $179 respectively | petcube.com

PetSafe SmartDoor

The electronic SmartDoor lets your dog in and out, but not any smart raccoons (they need a smart key fob for that). Using radio-frequency technology, the SmartDoor reads the unique signal of your dog’s programmable SmartKey, worn on his collar and triggers the battery power-driven, energy-efficient, insulated flap to unlock. Essentially, it automatically opens as they near the flap, and then locks when they get through it. The smart lock itself is electronic and can be programmed with up to five SmartKey. You can also fully lock the door to keep your dogs inside even if they’re wearing the SmartKey. The bad news? It runs solely on four D cell batteries.

$95 | petsafe.net

Garmin Delta Smart™ and the Garmin Canine™ App

Both a tracker and a trainer, this device and app use tones, vibrations and “stimulation” (yes, a “small electric shock”) to condition your dog’s behavior. It’s the perfect tool for the data geek; it lets you analyze data over time to see which stimuli is most effective in correcting pesky habits. An activity tracking feature lets you track when he’s active, for how long and at what intensity level. Use this data to gain insight so you can help him get healthier and more active.

The Delta Smart comes with customizable waterproof collar adaptor/device (attaches to collar straps up to 1-inch wide, and designed to withstand all the bumps, shakes and scrapes an active dog is likely to give it). The training features are also customizable, letting you select the type of signal/correction you want for your dog. “Keep Away Tags” (sold separately or as a bundle) help deter pets from accessing restricted areas. The mobile app lets you use your smartphone as a remote handheld trainer: press a key on your phone’s display, and he’ll receive a vibration, tone alert or corrective stimulation from the electronic collar. The Delta Canine remote looks and acts like a key fob. The three buttons let you control stimulation, tone, and vibration on your Delta Smart from up to 32 feet away.

$149.99 and more for optional devices | garmin.com

PetChatz HD

This wall-mounted 2-way audio/video monitoring system with built-in treat dispenser uniquely lets you FaceTime your dog via a full-frequency speaker system and high-def, low-light camera. It operates through any desktop computer or smartphone via the PetChatz app. Smartly, the monitor is mounted over an electrical outlet so no batteries or recharging are needed. It also is designed to release a calming scent.

The optional PawCall accessory, lets your dog call you. Place the shiny, durable, pet-safe 3″ x 4″ PawCall button on the floor or wall near the monitor. To let him know he can call you, simply schedule call times in your PetChatz web app. The paw-shaped light on the PawCall button will blink when you’re ready to chat. Dogs can be trained to press the button to initiate a two-way call with you—at least in theory, right?

$399 with call button | petchatz.com

Meet the Author: Jo Ostgarden

Jo Ostgarden is a former Dog Life columnist, and has helped vet and foster more than 100 dogs with a rescue group in Oregon for the last 15 years. She has a fur child named Nik, a tri-color English Springer Spaniel, whom she walks or runs daily, rain or shine.

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