Every time I close the front door I wish I could be a fly on the wall to see what my dogs do next. Do they sit at the front door, waiting patiently for my return? Do they rush to the windows to gaze longingly after my car as I drive away? Do they pull out a deck of cards and resume their game of high-stakes poker (as CM Coolidge would have us believe, and as I have long suspected)?
I also worried a bit as when I’m at home, my dogs (both terrier mixes) bark loudly and enthusiastically whenever they hear anything, real or imaginary, and I didn’t want to annoy the neighbours every time I left.
Enter the Furbo Dog Camera.
There’s an emphasis on sturdiness rather than discretion – after all, its purpose doesn’t need it to be hidden from view - but with its elegant design it doesn’t look out of place perched on a table or shelf.
The reason for its sturdy appearance quickly becomes clear – it has a large, empty interior ready to be filled with treats in order to reward or reassure your furry friend whilst you’re out.
I plugged it in, downloaded the app to my phone, paired it with the Furbo camera and went out for the day to see how the camera faired.
It turns out that once my dogs have watched me leave, they curl up in their basket and go to sleep. No pining, no poker.
After a while my phone beeped, and I saw that the Furbo app had alerted me to the fact they were barking. I turned on the camera, said some reassuring words into the microphone, and pressed the button to give them some treats. Whether they were reassured or just baffled is a matter of opinion, but they were happy enough to see the treats and went back to sleep.
The barking sensor sensitivity can be turned up or down. The camera itself doesn’t move, but has a wide enough field of vision that it takes in most of the room anyway, and it zooms in when you pinch the phone’s screen. The picture you get is surprisingly high def, and only lags by a couple of seconds.
Although it seems my dogs do very little else other than sleep and potter around the kitchen for a snack or a drink, it’s been a great relief that I now know when they’re barking, and I can quickly distract them with treats to save the neighbour’s ears, and generally keep the dogs calmer and more contented.
Buy it on Amazon for £199
Automatic pet feeder and water dispenser
If you’re forgetful, or struggle to bend down, this automatic pet feeder and waterer pair could be the solution. One holds dry food and the other holds 3.5 litres of water, so instead of bending down to fill your pet’s bowl a few times a day, you might find you only have to do it once every three days.
Or if you find you’ve occasionally forgotten to check how full the bowl is, you can stay on top of it by refilling every morning, regardless of how much food and water your pet has consumed by that point.
It’s also reassuring that if you suddenly get called away for any reason, you know your pet won’t go hungry or thirsty in that time – although if you plan to go away, you should always have someone go in to check all is well rather than just loading up the food and water before you go and hoping for the best, but as a loving pet owner, you know that already.
There’s the additional amusement factor that it looks like your dog is having a chat at the water cooler.
Buy it on Amazon for £28.64
Paw operated water fountain
If your dog loves playing with water on a hot day, you might like to invest in a paw-operated water fountain.
Connected to your garden tap via a hose, all it needs is for the dog to stand on a rubber pedal in order to send out a jet of water – both hydrating the dog and cooling it down, with a minimum of effort on your part!
It’s also less water-wasteful than having a hose on all the time as the dog needs to stand on the pedal to activate the jet.
Buy it on Amazon for £20.98
Cuddly toy with a good heart
If you’re purchasing a puppy and want a way to ease them in to your home, this cuddly toy might be the key. The Heart Beat Sheep has a realistic heartbeat sound to reassure a pup that until recently slept in a basket with its mother and siblings, and gives you both the chance of a much better night sleep.
It’s hardwearing enough for the puppy to play with as it gets older, but the batteries are securely tucked away where sharp little puppy teeth can’t get to them – although this is worth checking periodically to make sure it’s still safely out of reach.
If you can, leave it with the breeder for a few days before you pick your new pet up so that it picks up the smell of home for an extra level of comfort.
Buy it on Amazon for £13.10