Barking Blondes: Doggy apps, lost pooches and ‘petworking’
Dogs are big business! As well as dog ownership doubling in six years, the pet industry has boomed in the UK, with an estimated value of £7 billion, increasing by seven per cent annually despite the recession. The past decade has seen an explosion of doggy gadgets, toys, clothes, beds, bowls, jewellery, collars and leads, not to mention foods, treats and doggy ice-cream.
Well, now it seems the computer age has targeted dog owners, with the app market believing it can enrich your relationship with your dog. They claim to deliver up to the minute information quickly and simply.
An app called Clickety Dog combines fun with learning about clicker training and offers hours of fun for the owner learning to train a virtual dog with the clicker. Providing the owner transfers this knowledge into actively training their own dog, this is a useful app that de-mystifies clicker training. It combines the world of computer games, peoples’ competitive streaks with clicker training, definitely more fun than playing a round of solitaire. Molly, our miniature bull terrier was clicker trained, leaving us wishing Matilda the bulldog had followed suit!
Doggity is an app that claims to be a touch point for dog-friendly dining venues throughout the UK and aims to ensure you and your dog stay together at all times. It’s interactive features mean you can add a venue, give it a review and share your experience with other mutts and their owners. Doggity’s mission is to promote responsible ownership. In principle we hail such a concept.
Another app called MyDogUK offers all this and more with a very clever feature called Lost Pet Alert that uses microchipping, GPS and database technology to help you find your lost dog. This really is quite impressive – any tool to help a distraught owner that’s lost their dog is worth its weight in gold. There’s other useful features like ‘petworking’ with like-minded dog owners. And planning a dog-friendly trip in advance, mapping your route around choice walks, attractions, hotels and pubs.
The Kennel Club’s Puppy Buying Guide app takes you on a journey from the thought of a puppy to bringing home the breed of dog best suited to your lifestyle. It’s an educational tool that’s really easy to use, bright picture led storyboards that are useful for first time dog owners.
With all these new apps on the market we have to ask how we managed before such choice and technological innovation? In the days of Barbara Woodhouse how did we learn responsible dog ownership? From books? Puppy classes? Is the typical dog owner so embracing of all this technology? For the two of us, there is nothing more exciting than discovering a jewel of a pub or tea room that will welcome the occasional,well behaved dog. Do we want hoards of “city types” with their dogs and offspring descending on the place because its been ‘discovered’?
Could apps be taking the adventure out of life, or our ability to research and source information for ourselves? No doubt the concept of offering information on dogs and living with dogs is a good thing, but the basic principles of owning and living with a dog is so far removed from interacting with an app that we hope dogs provide a needed anti-dote from our technology addiction.
We know information is power but can we have an overload? After all the relationship and living with dogs is basically the same as it’s ever been for over 10,000 years. Molly is 11 and has spent most of her life without the need for an app. It’s arguable that time spent interacting with technology is time that could be spent out walking the dog.
The Barking Hour’ is on Thursdays on BBC London 94.9fm from 3-4pm
For more information visit www.barkingblondes.netTagged in: dog apps, pet apps, pet care, The Kennel Club
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