Ever wonder what your dog does when you’re not home?
Fairly new to the market, treat dispenser cameras are providing dog owners with ways to interact and see their pets when they are away from home. The huge benefit is obviously dog owners can reassured that their dogs are not in distress.
But there may be other benefits, too. The devices might be used as part of a separation anxiety treatment program. Also, they may help to enrich the environment just a little bit more when you are out. See the benefits of environmental enrichment here for all dogs including aggressive dogs.
We looked into the features and benefits of what we consider are the four best camera treat dispensers for dogs on the market as of writing. Note that these are not “smart feeders” which automatically feed meals, nor are they straight forward security cams (which you can view the varieties of security camera systems currently selling on Amazon).
You can get overwhelmed with the variety of products on the market so it helps to think about how you will use it. If you just want to see what your dog is up to when you are out, a security camera might be best for you. If you need to feed your dog a meal for an occasional evening when you are out, a “smart feeder” might be best.
For our purposes, we researched the treat dispensers with these main questions to be addressed:
- Could the treat dispensers provide some novel environmental enrichment for while your dog is alone?
- Could they be used to help behavior modification for aggression or separation anxiety?
- Can they be used in a way that help alleviate worry for dog owners while they’re out?
Our top considerations were those devices that allowed you to:
- Give a dog a treat when you decided
- Make some kind of noise to attract your dog (voice was ideal)
- See and hear what your dog is up to
- Although these change over time, quality of customer reviews from actual buyers (we used Amazon’s verified purchases for this analysis)
- Cost – also changes over time as products might be discounted
Note: Might be possible to get free shipping for all of these through Amazon if you are in the US.
As a disclaimer, we link to all the products to Amazon in this article. It allows you to look at real buyers reviews, the questions they asked, the ratings and so on (plus they often have free shipping, their costs are often lower than anywhere else and they’re the largest trusted online retailer out there). But if you were to buy anything on Amazon we would get a small commission at no cost to you (Amazon takes the hit) and this helps pay for site hosting and maintenance. But this site is about helping dog owners help their dogs. Please don’t buy anything that you feel would not help you.
With that said, we found the top four treat dispencing cameras that have been rated well by verified buyers.
Number One Pick: PetChatz
PetChatz was our first choice because of some important options but at $380, the cost was a real stumbling block when the rest of them were under $250. (Prices can be changed by the suppliers. Amazon also discounts products at their own discretion from time to time). Now keep in mind our review criteria, so one of the other ones might be just what you are looking for at a lower cost.
However there were four features that made this one difficult to pass over.
- PetChatz’s ability to check in on your dog over a desk top computer was a tough one to give up. Streaming video over your phone can quickly chew up data.
- PetChatz will send alerts with it’s motion and sound sensing capabilities.
- PetChatz can deliver the most treats (100) over all the other ones (best for behavior modifiction)
- Scent dispenser which has the potential to help relax your dog
If we were to rule out PetChatz, deciding on which of the remaining three was a little more difficult. Here it really depends on what features each product has that delivers the most important benefit you are looking for.
Furbo ranks second over Petzi
We chose Furbo next because of the barking notifications, although we realize this could quickly become annoying for some dog owners!
It has the ability to deliver 30 treats which is half of the number that Petzi can deliver at 60, but you are unable to hear your dog with the Petzi. If you want to be able to hear if your dog is in distress, the Petzi might not work because you might not see that they are whining. If all you need to see if what they are doing and deliver treats, then the Petzi might be fine.
Both the Furbo and Petzi have night vision which may be a factor for you. Although leaving a light on might work just as well. On the cost front, if you can give up being able to hear your dog, then the Petzi is cheaper than the Furbo ($249 vs $169 for the Petzi as of the time of writing).
We quickly ruled out Pawbo being for behavior modification for the simple reason that it only delivers enough 9 treats before it needs to be refilled. Behavior modification works best when able to delivered a frequent number of small treats. However in combination with its laser toy, it may be good for environmental enrichment which is another review criteria we were looking at.
Some dogs become obsessed by lasers and some dogs ignore lasers so you’ll need to determine if this is a good thing for your dog. If they like it and don’t get to frustrated trying to find it after it stops, it gains a point on environmental enrichment because it offers more than one way to engage your dog.
Regardless, at only $30 more that the Petzi, it still is a contender for these reasons: The Pawbo gives you two way audio, it can be wall mounted and has a good wide camera view. So if being able to hear your dog is more important than delivering treats and cost is a consideration, you might think about the Pawbo over the Petzi. If delivering treats is more important, at more or less the same cost, the Petzi might be a better choice over the Pawbo.
If you have an old iphone, you might want to consider the Pawbo or PetChatz, as the Furbo requires IOS9, and the Petzi requires iOS9, whereas the PetChatz requires IOS 6.1 and Pawbo only requires IOS 6. We don’t have an android, so we’re not sure how they fare up there. (Anyone want to send us an Android?)
If you are looking to record video for a veterinary behaviorist video (or your dog is a YouTube sensation??), or to record behavior changes over time, all except the Petzi give you that capability. Petzi does allow you to take photos though.
Two way audio allows you to monitor if your dog is in distress
Not only does two way audio allow you to speak and try to get your dog’s attention (though you will likely have to train them to respond before hand). But more importantly it will allow you to hear if your dog is in distress. If we are to consider our criteria of alleviating anxiety in dog owners this is a significant benefit. All devices accept the Petzi have some form of two-way audio.
Comparison At a Glance
|Treat Dispenser Camera||Cost (prices keep changing, may be discounted, please check!)||How many treats can be loaded||Average stars on Amazon||Night vision||Two-way Video or Audio||Phone / desktop abilities|
|PetChatz HD Pet Camera Two-Way Audio/Video System that Dispenses Treats, Scents and Provides Motion/Noise Sensing.||$379||100||4.2||No||Yes||Yes|
|Furbo Dog Camera||$249||30||4.0||Yes||Yes - audio only||iOS(iOS 9) and Android OS(Android 4.4 Kitkat)|
|Petzi Treat Cam: Wi-Fi Pet Camera & Treat Dispenser||$169||60 "milk bones"||4.1||Yes||No||IOS & Android, looking to add computer next year|
|Pawbo Wi-Fi Pet Camera, Interactive Wireless Pet Treat Cam & Treat Dispenser||$199||9||4.1||No||Yes||IOS 6, android 4|
Before you buy a treat dispencer camera for your dog, you might want to consider these options in regards to your own needs:
- Angle of view (the wider angle, the more you’ll see)
- Is your dog likely to chew through cords?
- Number of treats to dispense at one time or over the course of a day?
- Does your dog require a special diet?
- Training your dog to like the device
- How important is it that you hear your dog?
- Video recording to show a trainer or behaviorist or to monitor typical behavior over time
The following features made the PetChatz the most desirable for the following reasons:
- You can view the video in a browser
- Can deliver the greatest number of treats compared to the others
- Has a motion detector up to eight feet in front of the camera
- Sound detection
- Two way audio and video
- Scent dispenser (more on that below)
- Narrower field of view compared to the others
- Requires you to use their treats or you risk voiding the warranty (although are high quality treats)
- No night vision (could just use a motion activated LED or lamp however)
- Currently US only
You can view the video in a browser.
PetChatz can be sued both with a mobile device on on a computer. But PetChatz’s ability to check in on your dog over a desk top computer was a tough one to give up. While all of them have apps for smart phones allowing you to check in on your dog from anywhere you have your phone, any kind of streaming video will eat up data faster than almost any other kind of media. Being able to connect in on a desktop from work was a real plus in our eyes! Of course, if you can connect via wifi with your phone covered, then this is not such an important issue.
PetChatz can deliver the greatest number of treats as compared to the other treat dispensers
We felt it had the most potential of all the others because of the capability of delivering up to a 100 treats and they can dispense one at a time. Rapid and frequent delivery of teats can be useful in behavior modification. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety it can be possible to train your dog to associate getting a treat when you move away from him or her, and eventually leave the room for example (more on that below).
Unfortunately, you can only use the treats they supply or you void the warranty. However the treats ingredients look healthy and contain no grain, corn, wheat, soy and have no added fat, artificial flavours or bi-products.
PetChatz’s scent dispenser
This was not something we were looking for in a treat dispenser. But was this something that could have some benefit? We looked into.
PetChatz uses a diluted form of essential oils (remember that dogs smelling abilities are far greater than our own). The ingredients are Jojoba, Marjoram, Orange, Lavender, Petitgrain, Vetiver, Chamomile Roman essential oils.
Research suggests that certain kinds of olfactory stimulation such as the use of lavender can help encourage more relaxing behavior.
In a study of 55 shelter dogs they discovered that dogs spent more time resting. Lavender and chamomile appeared to be particularly associated with those in behaviors we associate with relaxation in dogs. http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591(04)00197-2/abstract
Here is another study looking at the positive effect of scents in relation to dogs who have travel induced excitement. Not completely related, but still may talk tot he calming influences some scents have. http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.229.6.964 (travel induced excitement).
PetChatz has a motion sensor that can detect motion up to eight feet of the device
Another plus was that PetChatz will send alerts with it’s motion and sound sensing capabilities. There are some limitations on these, since the motion sensor senses at about 8 feet from the device at about an angle of 54 degrees. But it will send alerts to you and this allows you to interact when the dog is moving around and near by.
It also has a sound sensing capabilities so you will know if your dog is barking. This can be helpful for behavior modification using Classical Conditioning if your dog gets activated be people approaching the door or walking by windows.
The PetChatz can deliver the most treats (100) over all the other ones, so this makes the PetChatz stand out for this kind of behavior modification. It would require that you are tuned into the app most of the time, however, and that just may not be practical. By the time you get an alert, you might not be able to deliver the teat quickly enough. However, if you pre-trained your dog, it’s possible that your dog will learn to anticipate the treat even if there is a slight delay.
For separation anxiety
Any treat dispensing device that allows you to treat your dog when you choose, and one that has the ability to see and hear your dog (this rules out Petzi for its one way audio capabilities) can be used to help treat separation anxiety when done properly.
Keep in mind this is a process done in baby steps. For example you move a way only a few steps, and then give a treat, return. Move away a little more, deliver a treat, return. Repeat until out of the room, repeat extending the time, and so on.
The advantage of the camera and being able to hear your dog is you know if your dog is actually staying calm or not.
Our treat dispencer camera runners up
The Furbo tosses treats which makes this one kind of fun. The added benefit is that this feature may attract your dog more than voice alone would. As with all the devices, allowing your dog to get used to it is important. Mid range in cost. Furbo may be good for those dogs with special diet needs.
- 120° wide-angle view
- Barking Alert: Delivers push notifications to your smartphone when your dogs bark
- Video recording
- Can use your own treats
- Good customer service
- Good audio
- Night vision
- No desktop abilities
- Doesn’t wall mount easily
- Like all of them, can jam occasionally. May depend on the kind of treat used.
Maybe be preferable for multiple dogs.
- Up to 60 treat dispensed (less than PetChatz, but better than the others)
- Night vision
- Can we wall mounted
- Treats are tossed which can be helpful for multiple dogs
- One way audio only – Can’t hear your dog
- No video recording
- No desktop capabilities yet
- Quality of the camera is reported to not be as good as the others
- Like others may be prone to jamming occasionally
If you tend to worry about your dog and want to interact with them, this is probably not the treat dispenser for you. On the other hand if you simply want to provide treats to your dog from time to time and don’t want to fork out the high cost forth PetChatz, Petzi offers the advantage of providing up to 60 treats over the course of the day.
May be better for those focused on relieving boredom for their pet than anything else, assuming the laser toy works for your dog the way you want it to.
- Two way audio
- Video recording
- Can we wall mounted
- Laser toy
- Wide angle of view (110° degrees)
- Only 9 small treats can be dispensed
- Sound quality isn’t great
Training your dog to like whatever device you choose
You might think that your dog is going to like anything to shoots out food, but you may be unprepared for the possibility that the sound and the behavior of it may cause suspicion and even fear in some dogs. So make sure you properly prepare your dog and help them get comfortable with it first.
Fill it up with treats and allow your dog to investigate it before using it.
All of these treat dispensers will make sound. Give your dog a chance to acclimatize to both the sound of the treat dispensing and any tones or sound your voice makes through the device.
First think about making the sound as least threatening as possible, by using the dispenser when your dog is relatively far away from it, (for example in another room). When the dog hears the sound, act happy and offer your dog a treat – ideally a slightly less desirable treat than he or she will be getting from the dispenser itself.
If your dog is ls sensitive, simply using it will you are here and rewarding them immediately may be all that your dog needs.
Use a positive upbeat voice when you hear it. We want your dog to think you think it’s great. They often take their cues from you.
As with all dog training, slow gradual steps are the key. Bit by bit allow your dog to get used to the sound and as they do get a little closer. If he or she is apprehensive, don’t rush them. Before you know it, your dog will predict the sounds means the arrival of treats!