British researchers develop “Dog Phone” for dogs

As of: December 26, 2021 9:38 a.m.

The baby monitor has become an indispensable part of the household of young families. British researchers have now developed the “Dog Phone”: dogs can use it to contact their owners.

By Imke Koehler, ARD-Studio London

Did the dog call today? The question will soon be raised. Because masters and mistresses get a new way of communicating with their four-legged friend, or more precisely: The four-legged friend gets the chance to contact their owners – via “dog phone”. The dog phone has a motion sensor in a cue ball. The sensor is linked to a laptop. If the dog moves the ball, it triggers a video call.

Imke Koehler
ARD-Studio London

“These are social animals”

The head of the research project at Glasgow University, Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, tested the invention on her nine-year-old black Labrador Zack. “In the end, he called me about five times a day,” she says of the result of the three-month test phase. “Then he did different things: sometimes he threw toys at me, sometimes just looked, sometimes he came very close to the screen.” According to the researcher, it varied from day to day and from call to call.

Sometimes he just accidentally bumped the ball and was more interested in the basket than in the phone. At least she saw that the dog is doing well, says Hirskyi-Douglas. However, the Labrador ignored your own calls.

Help against the pain of separation

Nevertheless: The Dog Phone is said to help dogs with separation pain. Especially after all the lockdowns in which masters and mistresses were at home a lot, it shows how difficult it is for dogs to suddenly be alone for many hours again. In such cases the dog phone can help.

So then does the dog call its owner? Animal psychologist Roger Mugford is convinced that communication can work via electronic toys. “What makes this research really important is that it gives us more insight into how clever dogs are. And those are social animals,” Mugford told the BBC. “For dogs that are left alone, that’s a real hardship. Technology that gives them a more interesting life, they’ll use. Of course.”

More “participation” for the dog?

For the head of the study, Hirskyj-Douglas, the dog in the video call is only the first step towards a completely new reality for pets. “I think this is the beginning of how technology can give animals control over their homes: turn on the lights, turn on the heating, connect with each other or just control their surroundings,” she says, and is convinced: “That is the beginning of empowering the dog to do a lot more with the internet and have access to a lot more things. ”

Dog Phone: New form of communication for masters and dogs

Imke Köhler, ARD London, December 7th, 2021 6:27 p.m.

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