A company called DogStar Life has created a new pet app for our phones that tells us how our dogs are feeling.
How does it know? Clearly they attach a device to the dog's tail!
By the time I had read that much about the product, my initial reaction was, “What a load of rubbish!” I will reign myself in for now while I tell you some more about this device.
It attaches to your dog's tail and feeds the data to the app. The analysis of the data is based on a University study into tail wagging. It always amazes me that people get paid for such studies. It's a bit like the study about how to make the perfect cup of tea! To be fair, it was done at a University's College for Veterinary Medicine.
Pamela Perry, a veterinary behaviour resident at Cornell University, who was involved in the study said that the tail is a dog's social indicator and is used to give signals that dogs can understand but that the owner may not.
“The tail is a dog's social interface, signalling behavioural nuances that other dogs recognize, but which humans do not always understand,” said Pamela.
The creators of the device have worked with vets and dog owners which on the face of it gives them credibility. However, if I was approached and asked to test a product like this I would not have agreed. My take on that is that a certain type of dog owner would like the idea of knowing what their dog was “thinking” and would be more likely to agree to take part.
The company say that the information gathered from the device will help owners recognize what situations and environments make the dog happy. It will also help them avoid situations and activities that induce stress. Like attaching something to their tail perhaps?
It's difficult to criticise the sentiment
We all want what's best for our dogs. I just don't feel I need my phone to tell me when my dog is stressed.
For example, my two dogs walk perfectly well on a lead but as soon as we take that turn, that usually means we are going to the dog field where they get to play off lead with a pack of dogs they start to pull. Do I need an app to tell me that they love the dog field?
Alternatively, if we pass Boo the Boxer who Charlie, my Kelpie GSD cross doesn't like, Charlie's tail drops and he will avoid eye contact with the Boxer. Will the app tell me whether Charlie is pleased to see Boo or does he just want to get past the other dog with no drama? By the time the app tells me that Charlie is stressed, Boo has him by the throat.
The company have produced a video to demonstrate how useful the app is.
As you can see, the owner of the dog on the video doesn't even know how to walk a dog properly! The dog is 10 feet ahead of her. She is on her phone and hardly looks at her dog. Maybe if she put her phone away and paid attention to her dog she would understand more about what makes the dog happy or stressed.
A selling point that the company gives is that if you are away from your dog you can monitor whether the dog is happy or stressed out. Dogs react to their surroundings and can get stressed for 4 or 5 seconds but will be absolutely fine after that. Maybe a dog they don't get on with came near them at Doggy Daycare or the dog walker didn't let them jump up at that nice lady with the dog treats.
Too many people these days get a dog for all the wrong reasons.
Some pet owners don't really understand what their dog needs or what certain body language can tell us. More than that is that they don't bother to find out. Everyone is different, but for me, a huge part of owning dogs is building a relationship with them and getting as much information as possible regarding dog behavior and body language is a lot of fun. You can't take shortcuts and you certainly do not attach a device to your dog's tail.
If you're considering buying one of these Tail Talk devices, do me and your dog a favour first. Leave the phone in your pocket and interact with your dog. It takes time and effort but you will soon work out what makes your dog tick. You will get so much more enjoyment from your walks and from the time spent with your best friend. Your dog will love you even more too!
Go to DogStar Life's IndieGoGo page to support the product if you're interested.