By Kim Boatman for The Dog Daily
The same device you use to play your favorite tunes and stay in touch can now play a big role in your relationship with your pup. With the touch of a finger -- or in some cases a shake or two -- your iPod Touch or iPhone can help you get to know your pet better, keep it safer and even teach your old dog a new trick. Just visit the iTunes store for a number of software applications that target dog lovers and won’t put a dent in your wallet. Most are free or inexpensive.
Here are six worth checking out:
Bark Machine & Dog Tricks, $0.99 This dog-training tutorial offers step-by-step instructions along with 200 helpful photos. The application’s developers, Deidra Jones and Robert Maran, worked with their publishing house, which provided the source material for the app from the books Maran Illustrated Dog Training (Course Technology PTR, 2005) and Maran Illustrated Puppies (Course Technology PTR, 2006). Content covers basic commands as well as specific issues, such as chewing. The bark machine, a collection of noises that should attract your pup’s interest, is included as a bonus. Among the sound-producing objects are a squeaky toy, a clicker and a high-frequency whistle.
Dog-A-Log, $0.99 Justin Hall, an Australian, came up with Dog-A-Log while he was researching information about his bearded collie, Rufus, who kept escaping from Hall’s new house. Hall learned that this breed is known for its escape artist tendencies. “I continued to look through the dog breeds on Wikipedia and decided it would be great to have that information while I was walking at the park with Rufus,” Hall says. The app offers information and photos of dog breeds, culled from Wikipedia. “Now I can ask someone at the park what breed their dog is and find out all about it,” Hall says. “I think the simplicity of the app is what makes it appealing.” Since information in Wikipedia is open-source, coming from many contributors, Dog-A-Log should be considered a convenient resource rather than a definitive, expert look at dog breeds.
PetMD First Aid & Emergencies for Dogs, $1.99 This app offers clear, concise information about the symptoms and consequences of a number of medical problems your pet might encounter. Advice comes from PetMD, which offers pet health information gathered and presented by veterinarians. The goal is to give you enough data and advice to help your dog until you can get to a veterinarian or emergency clinic. The program rocketed to No. 3 in medical apps within three days of its release, according to a PetMD spokeswoman.
PetMD Pet Services Finder, free Traveling with your pet? Need help locating the closest veterinarian, emergency clinic, groomer or dog park? Here’s a great way to find dog-related services in unfamiliar locales. Users offer reviews and may add listings. You can see locations on a map and select the “Directions” function to receive detailed directions from your current location. Users have found the app a little buggy, but the developer says it will soon be releasing an update.
Dog Diary, $3.99 Store your buddy’s vital information with this app, which also lets you keep a photo gallery to show friends and family. There’s a section for medical information and another for identification, such as microchip number, registration, birth date and breed. A note-taking section allows flexibility.
Dog Whistler, free Turn your iPod Touch or iPhone into a fancy dog whistle with this app, which lets you choose your desired frequency by typing it in or by using a built-in slider. Judging from user reviews, dog owners have mixed success with response from their pooches. The Dog Whistler is one of several free dog whistler apps, so you can try your luck with your dog without spending a cent.
Look for more dog-related apps coming soon, say developers. “We dog owners really love our dogs,” says Hall. “We are getting a much better response than we expected.” Dog lovers want instant access to as much information about their pals as possible. Of course, we haven’t mentioned the virtual dog apps that let you adopt a cyberpup. After all, an iPod Touch or iPhone can do a lot of things, but it’s no substitute for your dog.
Kim Boatman is a journalist based in Northern California. She is also the managing editor of ExceptionalCanine.com. Boatman's work has appeared in The Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. She is a lifelong lover of animals, and a frequent contributor to The Dog Daily.