December is that time of year when Santa brings gifts to all the good boys and girls. And I know of one very, very good boy.
This year is my border collie Boatmeal’s first Christmas with us. He is the smartest, most precious, most beautiful, best boy in the world, and he deserves a mountain of gifts befitting his station. Hopefully Santa agrees, and has a look at this list of gifts for furry friends.
This Gizmodo Gift Guide is brought to you by Nerf, which continues to bring fans the blasting power, distance, speed and accuracy they crave, like the Accustrike Raptorstrike, Modulus Regulator, Doomlands The Judge and Zombiestrike Dreadbolt!
CleverPet Hub ($US299)
I’m a big fan of enrichment toys for pets, and the CleverPet hub looks like a great one. This gadget trains your pet to touch a series of lights in order to obtain a treat. It starts out easily, giving out free treats so that your pet learns to associate the hub with tasty tidbits. It then requires your dog to touch a touchpad in order to get a treat, and ramps up the difficulty from there. Eventually, your pet will be touching lights in sequences, identifying which lights are brighter, and matching colours.
CleverPet adjusts the difficulty so it's just challenging enough to keep your pet engaged and exercise their brain, but not too difficult for them to figure it out. Further, it isn't only suited to dogs - it was designed for both dogs and cats, and has been used successfully by a variety of other animals as well.
Unfortunately, it currently only ships to the US and Canada, so you’ll have to drop a bit extra on a mail forwarding service as well. But isn’t your doggo worth it?
Petcube Play ($259)
Sometimes, when I'm having a rough day and just want to go home and snuggle up with my dog, I flick through Boatmeal's Instagram to help tide me over. It's a soothing balm, but what would be even better (though not quite as good as a snug), would be if I could see a real time livestream of the boy. Petcube Play not only lets you watch live video of your pet on your smartphone, but the two-way audio lets you talk to and hear them as well. There's a built-in laser toy so you can play with your pet as well, though this is probably more suited to cats than dogs.
If you want to fling treats to your pet while you're away, you can try Petcube Bites ($349) as well.
The PupPod is another enrichment toy that has puzzles which increase in difficulty as your dog learns. However, rather than automatically dispensing treats when your dog does something correctly, the PupPod signals you on a mobile app, telling you to toss that good boy a treat. You can get a Pet Tutor treat dispenser ($US300) which will automate the game, but then you wouldn't be spending quality time together.
The PupPod is a modified KONG wobbler, so you know it’s going to be sturdy enough to withstand the attentions of your pup. Using motion sensors, it starts by requiring your dog to be near the PupPod, then increases in difficulty to needing them to touch it. The puzzles continue to automatically increase in complexity when your dog has mastered them, making use of sounds, lights and timing to present a variety of puzzles, keeping your dog's mind sharp.
U-Pet Carrier ($US129)
Pet carriers often look like tiny isolation cells, with bars and plastic and indefinite detention without trial. They're also cumbersome to carry, only to be employed when moving home or going on a holiday.
U-Pet sells a collection of backpacks and bags specifically designed to carry your small animal companion as you go about your daily business. Rather than whipping out your phone to show people pictures of your cat, you can whip out the genuine article.
Much more aesthetically pleasing than your average carrier, U-Pet carriers feature a transparent hemisphere to let light in and the bag's occupant look out, a cushioned interior to keep them comfortable, and numerous air holes to ensure they are well-ventilated.
If my 30kg puppy fit in one of these, I'd take him with me everywhere.
SHRU The Intelligent Cat Companion ($US98)
SHRU is a cat toy is designed to mimic a small animal, allowing your cat to indulge its cruelty without any actual bloodshed. SHRU can itself on and off automatically throughout the day, so you can leave it for him to play with while out, or you can manually configure it for different modes. This toy will keep your cat's mind and body active, and it's also rechargeable, so you don't have to fuss around with batteries.
Dyson Groom ($89)
You've heard about the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, now get ready for the Dyson Groom tool. Our household recently endured Boatmeal's first shedding of his winter coat. This involved constant brushing, which did nothing to abate the discovery of stray dog hairs everywhere from on food to on toothbrushes. The Dyson Groom tool, which is suitable for dogs with medium to long hair, sucks collected hair straight into the vacuum, so it doesn't end ups coating your cardigans.
Vacuuming your dog. The world is a beautiful place.
FitBark 2 ($US81)
Do you worry that your pooch isn't getting all the exercise his little doggy heart requires? The FitBark 2 is a fitness tracker that attaches to your dog's collar, monitoring his activity and sleep to give you insight into their health. The data can be useful to help explain changes in behaviour and keep an eye on existing medical conditions, as well as to motivate you both to keep active. The fitness tracker just launched in Australia this year, and is capable of linking to your Fitbit, Apple HealthKit or Google Fit so you can keep track of both of your health stats together.
All For Paws Interactives Fetch ‘N Treat ($45)
If you aren’t quite ready to blow your holiday budget but your special boy still deserves something as special as he is, this gadget might do the job. Load up the Fetch 'N Treat with dry dog treats, and it will release them when a standard tennis ball is inserted into its top. With a little training, your dog can keep playing fetch with himself long after your throwing arm is worn out.
Sadly the Fetch 'N Treat doesn't fling the ball for your dog to chase, simply rolling it along the floor instead. But it still does the job if your pet prefers their exercise more gentle than a free and frenzied bolt across the yard.
A Pet Box Subscription
Pet box subscriptions are literally the gift that keeps on giving. Every month for the length of the subscription, your giftee will receive a deliver containing toys, treats and accessories. This is particularly good if the pet in question enjoys tearing their toys apart, as you can trust that a new one will arrive in a month.
There are a variety of pet subscription box services in Australia, each offering something slightly different, so you're spoilt for choice. For example, if you were only looking for subscription boxes specifically for dogs, your choices include Waggly Club (whose Christmas box is pictured above), Golden Swag, Olly's Box, So Fetch, GoGetMe and PetObsessed.
R2 Fish School Training Kit ($15)
Train your fish. Do it.