As lovable as our pets may be, sometimes we need our furry friends to give us a break and entertain themselves. While fetch is usually a two-man, or two-creature, game — and doors tend to need a human to open — these five can help a pet parent take a few moments for themselves.
Certainly, our pets have provided us with some comfort over the past year amid the pandemic — whether we've been holed up at home, or even on the road, safely distanced outside, for a camping trip with our favorite pooch. And Americans coughed up an estimated $99 billion in 2020 on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association, up from the $95.7 billion spend in 2019. Here are some smart options then that won't cost nearly that much, but may be able to give pets some entertainment, and their humans a bit of rest.
Fi Smart Dog Collar
Fi is now on Series 2 for its collars, great for keeping an eye on your pet while they're out with a dog walker — but also if you're prone to taking them off leash in wilder areas and want to know exactly where they are at all times.
The Fi Series 2 collar also dovetails with a mobile app via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, that works as a fitness tracker to make sure a dog stays active. Dog walkers can also be added to the app. The collar starts at $149 and comes in four different colors.
Petcube Play 2Petcube
Petcube Play 2
This update from Petcube is designed for dogs, but is likely best for cats, a smart HD camera with a 160-degree field of view and keenly a laser light that owners can control.
Whether you're back in an office setting or even in another room with the door shut taking a Zoom call, Petcube Play 2 lets you talk or listen to your cat or dog, and also move the laser pointer along the floor which your pet can chase. And yes, you can even set the light to an autoplay mode when you need to focus on something else.
Alexa is also built-in inside, so you can ask Amazon's assistant to read a story aloud or even start some music to entertain your pet while you're cooking dinner. Priced at $199, you can sometimes find Petcube Play 2 on sale for less.
Cheerble Wicked BallCheerble
Cheerble Wicked Ball
From the company that brought you the Wickedbone, the colorful Cheerble Wicked Ball is a bit less expensive at $49. Crucially, though, it still moves on its own like its more expensive cousin, rolling about the floor and letting a dog or cat chase it on their own.
It recharges via a USB cord in just an hour, and can work for up to eight hours. Some users have said the ball hasn't stood up to their bigger pets which have managed to chew and destroy the ball fairly quickly. But for smaller dogs and cats, Cheerble may be the thing needed to give pets some active time — and an owner some downtime.
Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVIEcovacs
Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI
This vacuum robot is going to pull double duty for you — working to keep an eye on your dogs and cats, and also working to clean up after them as well.
The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI robot vacuum, which GearBrain reviewed, is excellent at pulling up dog and cat hair. But hidden inside is also a camera that can let you look around your home, turning the vacuum into a robot sentinel. You can get a live feed, capture still images — and even talk to your pet if you catch them doing something they shouldn't.
When it initially launched, the vacuum was priced at $799.99, but we've seen it online for much less at Best Buy and other retailers.
MyQ debuted the Pet Portal at CES 2021, a $3,000 pet door that opens when it senses a pet nearby. The sliding doors let a pet out only if it's wearing a sensor on its collar that's connected by Bluetooth, and the door can also be set to open only when an owner wants as well.
Notifications come via a mobile app, and a pet can be allowed to go into a yard whenever they want, or by request. Plus owners can get reports of how often their dog went in and out per day.
Currently, MyQ is only taking pre-orders on Pet Portal, requiring a $100 refundable deposit and saying "limited quantities" will start shipping in early spring.
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