Technolust: A dog's day

Garmin Sport PRO

As a dog owner, there are lots of things that I’d rather not have to do. But as a keeper of four-legged friends, there’s really no getting around some inconveniences, barring the invention of a robot that picks up dog poop for you. (I’m waiting for that day.)

Even though some things must be done, there are ways to make canine-keeping life easier. With my three huskies—Arjuna, Ali (short for Alison), and Sasha—as inspiration, I decided to look at what tech products could make life easier on canine parents. This was a little harder than I expected, since I already have Whistle GPS tags for two of the three dogs. But as it turns out, there are other products that pet lovers can appreciate.

Garmin Sport Pro Bundle

Training a dog is a necessary part of dog ownership. The younger you start with a dog, the more concrete the outcome as the dog grows. The Garmin Sport Pro is a $250 electric training collar and remote that work up to three-quarters of a mile away. The collar is capable of ten stimulation levels, in audible and vibration modes.

Now for those of you unfamiliar with training collars, these are training devices meant to be used as a reinforcement of vocal commands, not punishment. The idea isn’t much different than that of a prong collar, where you use the device to keep the dog’s attention, not to force compliance.

These types of collars very effective, even for big dogs. A friend of mine has a canary mastiff that weighs around 100 pounds. He’s used the similar (and cheaper) Garmin Delta to train his dog, which responds quickly even when far away. Several people have recommended the Garmin Delta to me, but the $250 Sport model offers more range and features. And after all, if the mastiff will respond to the Delta, I think that with training, my huskies will respond to the Sport just as quickly.

What does the Garmin Sport Pro offer that I don’t have now?

For my family, training the dogs is a constant effort. While we’re working on solidifying the basics for the two pups (Ali, 6 months, Sasha 8 months), Arjuna (5 years) is beyond the prong collar and leash training. We’ve had some success with using a 30-foot lead to train him to come at a distance, but other commands like sit or down are near impossible at that distance. We need another way to reinforce the command, and a wireless collar would provide us with that ability.

D-Link DCS-960L

For a long time, I’ve been skeptical about home wireless security cameras. The main reason for this has been, ironically, security. Call me crazy, but I’m not wont to keep footage from inside my home on a cloud server, nor do I want to transmit it over wi-fi.

I was pleased to find out that the $130 DCS-960L stores its footage on a microSD card. On top of this, the DCS-960L sports a 180-degree wide-angle lens. I looked at a lot of tilt-head cameras, but settled on the idea that glass that offers a wide FOV will miss less action than a narrower lens that has to pivot into position.

One of the key things I looked for in a camera was motion and sound activation. Arjuna has caused severe damage to items in the house more than once, and it would be nice to see what events led up to his reign of destruction and terror.

The addition of a web-enabled camera to my home would give me greater insight into what the dogs are doing throughout the day. While the Whistle GPS devices on Arjuna and Sasha’s collars record activity, it can’t tell you what that activity actually is. It would be nice to know if that activity is playing in the yard, pacing around the house, or scratching at the door.

iRobot Roomba 980

iRobot Roomba 980

If there’s one fact about living with huskies, it’s that hair gets everywhere. It’s on the floor, on the chairs, on your clothes, and in the dryer screen. There’s never any shortage of husky fur in the house, and the $900 iRobot Roomba 980 is a device that can help mitigate it.

Unlike other, cheaper Roombas, the 980 will actually clean a room using a coverage pattern that makes sense, instead of aimlessly bumping into objects and veering off in random directions. The Roomba 980 can be connected via wi-fi too, allowing for remote control via iOS or Android apps.

But what caught my eye about the 980 wasn’t it’s technical features, it was its chops as a vacuum. I found several accounts of people who have sheddy dogs too. One user said that the 980 handles shedding from a german shepherd, a golden retriever, and another dog like a champ. While huskies tend to take the shedding to a whole new level compared with other breeds, the endorsements from owners of large sheddy breeds is a big plus to me.

What does the Roomba 9080 offer that I don’t have now?

Living with three huskies means that the house needs to be swept almost daily. If it isn’t swept after two days, I’m convinced the little bundles of fur will slowly gain consciousness and rise up against us. The Roomba 980 would allow me to take back a half hour of my evenings, which are spent sweeping. That’s 30 minutes I can use to walk or play with the dogs instead of just clean up after them.

Alex Campbell
Alex first built a PC so he could play Quake III Arena as a young lad, and he's been building desktop PCs ever since. A Marine vet with a background in computer science, Alex is into FOSS and Linux, and dabbles in the areas of security and encryption. When he's not looking up console Linux commands or enjoying a dose of Windows 10-induced schadenfreude, he plays with fire in his spare time.