Furbo Dog Camera REVIEW
Everyone is entitled to down time. One of my favorite things to do when I have spare time is to go visit family and friends. Some of them live in town, while others live several hours away. No matter which I decide to spend time with, I end up having to leave our family dog at home. He does pretty well on his own, but he does have some issues with separation anxiety. There was a time where if he couldn’t see or hear us he would just spend his time panting and stressing himself out. This made it really hard for us to enjoy our time away from home because we were constantly worried about him.
In 2016, I started seeing a new trend in home security emerging — the pet camera. Pet cameras are designed to all owners see and hear their pets to ensure they are safe and not in distress. While some people may find this unnecessary, people who have anxious pets know it can really provide some great peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your time away from home worry-free. A few weeks ago, we received the Furbo Dog Camera and have been really happy with its performance as a peace of mind device.
Furbo is a one-way video/two-way audio camera that you can set-up anywhere in your home. Its main purpose is to allow owners to see and hear their pets when they are away from home. While there are quite a few options for pet cameras out there, I like Furbo because of its added treat-tossing feature. Furbo isn’t just a great option for viewing purposes, it’s also a training tool. The developers of Furbo worked closely with veterinarians and trainers to develop a device that would work in the same method as typical trainers do. There is a slight clicking noise that happens just before a treat is released. That ‘click’ mimics the hand clickers than many trainers utilize.
Furbo has an amazing 720P HD camera with a 120º wide angle view. You can zoom in 4x digitally and there is also an infrared LED for night-time viewing. In addition to the two-way audio from its built-in speaker and microphone, Furbo also has a specialized ‘snack call’ that lets your dog know when a treat is about to appear. One of my favorite things about Furbo is that you can use your own treats. It works best with rounded treats that are 0.4cm in diameter, but you can use others, too. I actually had a larger treat that I cut up into smaller pieces to work in the Furbo and even though the treats get stuck every once in a while, they will still launch from Furbo.
So how does it work exactly? Let me walk you through set-up and a typical interaction with your pet.
Setting up Furbo is very, very easy. You will need the following systems in order for the set-up to be successful.
- Broadband internet connection (1Mbps upload recommended)
- Wi-Fi or Ethernet
- Available power outlet
- iOS 8 or newer or Android 4.3 or newer
The first step is to pick a place for Furbo to live. Its design is so modern looking that it will fit with any decor and it’s structured with your pet in mind. 3M adhesive strips are included on the bottom so that you can secure it in its place. In the event that it would be tipped over, it’s unlikely that treats will spill out because the lid is a very tight fit. You do want to make sure that you have a good WiFi signal and available power outlet where you plan to place it. Once you have established its home, plug Furbo into power and wait for its status light to turn green. It can take up to one minute so be patient.
Finally, you download the app (on iOS or Android) and follow the remaining setup steps. Be sure to enable notifications since that’s a big part of how you can keep up with your pet. First, you connect to your Furbo via Bluetooth with your phone. If you’ve ever set-up any connected device for a smart home, this is usually the first step for those devices, too. It allows the connected device to share your mobile phone’s WiFi settings. Once that information is pulled over and Furbo can connect to your WiFi, it will finish it’s set-up process automatically. The note on the app says it can take 3–5 minutes. When it’s done, you will see a large check mark on your phone screen.
You do need to remember that even though you can open your camera feed on your phone at any time to check in on Fido, Furbo is a training tool. There is a bark alert, which will go off when any noise reaches a certain level within Furbo’s listening range. We had on a movie one night in the same room as the Furbo and I received a notification that the barking alert was triggered even though our dog was asleep at the time. The interface for the Furbo is really pretty fun. It’s set up like a game for the owner. You swipe your finger across the screen in order to toss the treat to your dog and there is a warning not to scare your pet by accidentally hitting them with a launched treat. I did do that once completely by accident when my dog wasn’t paying attention. It happens but try hard not to make a habit of it.
There is quite an extensive training process for both you and your dog in order for Furbo to be successful. First, you have to get your dog used to the location of Furbo. You stand next to it and toss treats to your dog from next to the device. This gets them used to the idea that treats come from that area. Once they have established that, you will then start using Furbo empty so that your dog associates Furbo’s noises with a treat. Then you start launching treats from Furbo. There is a really nice tutorial in the app that can walk you through the entire process. It can take some time for both you and your pet to get the hang of it so don’t lose heart if you can’t just use it out of the box.
I found Furbo to be very easy to use and I love how easy it is to check in on things with my dog and my home through the app. I never had a complete connection failure with Furbo, which says a lot because I have multiple WiFi cameras around my house and they aren’t 100% reliable 100% of the time. Furbo worked and it worked really well for that purpose. At a price point of $250, it’s really a pretty nice value compared to other home WiFi cameras — plus this has the added feature of being connected to your pet through the treats.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete training with my dog. We got Furbo set-up and started working with him, but he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) shortly after we introduced him to Furbo. He started exhibiting symptoms of extreme pain and we didn’t want to add any stress to him by trying to train him while he was in pain. He was beginning to recognize that the treat warning meant something was about to happen, but we didn’t get to fully make the connection with him. At the time of this article publishing, our dog is still with us, but resting with the aid of some medication from our vet. That said, I do believe that with the right circumstances Furbo can be a really nice training tool to aid with anxiety. Our dog seemed to be able to hear us through the speaker and we could see him quite easily.
Furbo is a really unique device for dog training and observation. I would recommend it for pet owners who want to keep an eye on their furry family members.
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Originally published at macsources.com on August 7, 2017.