After a chat with a friend of mine who works at a local dog walking and pet sitting company, Stan's Pals. I found myserf pondering. In my work I'm often looking at using technology to make a job easier or better. Often technology is pushed into a field and all it does is cause a headache because it simply wasnt needed or was poorly implemented. A dog walker and a pet sittersounds like they wouldn't really need technology much, right? Well I know this pet sitter uses technology a lot so I decided to look into what technology is good for someone in the field, what is bad and what is downright rediculous.
Pet Sitting on Socal Media - Good
When you hire a pet sitter you already expect them to feed and water your pet. Owning a pet is about more than providing sustainance though. Pets need love. Using social media our friendly pet sitters can send pictures to the owner showing how much fun their pet is having, and how happy they are with the pet sitter. To a loving doggy mummy knowing your pet is not just alive but is also having fun makes the service much more worthwile. Definately a good use of technology in pet sitting.
You could also use social media to engage with your users, posting heartwarming pet related stories, warning or local health scares or just providing helpful info. Social media can help you become more than just a service.
Dog Walker GPS tracking - Bad(ish)
While I can see tracking a dog walker to be really useful and have the potential to go well theres also the potential to go wrong. Imagine the dog walker collects the dog. They go just a quater mile to the park. Its a dog friendly park so the sitter sits on a bench, gets a ball out and plays fetch with the dog for an hour. They then walk the dog home. The dog owner decides to take a look where the dog went on its walk today and finds the dog went to the park, sat on a bench and went home. They instantly jump to the conclusion that the person walking the dog sat on their backside reading a book ignoring the dog. Granted its easy to explain the situation but you really don't want people asking the question, it gives the wrong impression.
If you have worked with people at any point in your life you will know even the nicest people can come up with rediculous stories based on incorrect assumptions and get really angry about them. While GPS could be great I can see this happening.
GPS Tracking Collar - Great
GPS tracking collars are prtty useless for most people. They usually have a poor battery life so you end up never actually using them. When it comes to professional dog walkign though its another matter. Even the best dog walker can have an excited dog pull the lead out of their hand. If your only fitting the GPS tracker to the dog for the duration of their walk then the battery is no longer an issue. you can leave the tracker on charge in the car until its needed. It will also re-assure owners that no matter how good their dog is at escaping, and some dogs are Houdini, you will always know where their dog is while its in your care.
Collar Cam - Bad
Cheap collar cams can provide some amusement for pet owners but do you know anyone who checks theirs regularly. Try these out as a dog walker and you'll probably get a lot of feedback that the owners loved seeing their dogs perspective of their walk. After the first or maybe second time though no ones going to look at them and your just left with a piece of tech wasting space and the job of uploading the videos.
Dog Walking Robot - Rediculous.
Sounds brillant doesn't it. you can get a robot to walk the dogs while you put your feet up. Theres a robot called Luna, amongst others thats been cited as being able to do a huge number of things because of the way its made to allow community apps and software. I won't go into too much detail. The robot has been seen walking a dog in a demonstration. This was however just a demonstration. The robot can't react if the dog gets excited and pulls on the lead, it can't tell if the dog is afraid of something and it can't give propper cuddles. Even if you can program it to do all this do you really want to be the first dog walker to tell an owner that your robot lost their dog.
Painful Training Collars - Rediculous
I'm going to ignore all the dog lovers I know here and share with you the opinion of the vets, dog behaviourists and dog trainers I've spoken to. Shock collars, or other collars that cause pain and discomfort are at best useless and at worst evil. I've seen some that detect the sound of a bark and some really fancy ones that have a long range remote. The idea is you train the dog to sit when the collar emits a sound. Saves you shouting if your in a large field. That aspect I really like. Why though does it need a shock function. Its easy to train a dog to sit in response to a noise. The shock only help lazy owners elicit a response from the dog. I'm yet to meet a dog trainer who thinks shocking the dog is a good way to train them.
Cat sitting with Lasers - Good
If your cat sitting a cat thats not allowed out for whatever reason theres always the worry that the sneaky cat might dive for the door when you go in or out. Laser toys are a fantastic distraction while you rin the house and you can shine them through windows to ensure the cat is away from the door when you come in. A great toy and has a practical use. My own cat once spent 2 hours sitting by the opening to my surround sound's sub woofer when I made the red dot run inside the sub and then I turned it off. The cat thought it was inside and sat theri ready to pounce when the red dot was brave enough to come out. While there are some really cool and expensive laser toys for cats if you just need a distraction a laser pen can cost as little as £0.99.