I was a bit skeptical of buying a Furbo for Cyber Monday of 2018. Though the training tool and pet camera was 50% off, I wasn’t quite sure if I actually needed the fancy tech toy.
I bought the Furbo anyway.
We set it up eagerly, filling it with rounded kibbles that shouldn’t jam the mechanism.
Setup overall was pretty easy for us. We shot treats out of it using our phones a few times to see how it worked.
Furbo Gives Peace of Mind for Owners
The next day we left for work. I checked the Furbo camera a few times throughout the morning and was relieved to see that Barley was NOT showing any body language that indicated anxiety.
He was sound asleep on our bed.
His anxiety has been getting a lot better, but it’s so nice to see proof of that.
The Furbo also alerts us if Barley barks. This allows us to shoot treats at him if he’s scared about a storm or the mailman. He already looks more relaxed!
If Barley DID have more serious separation anxiety, we would be able to use the Furbo in the following ways:
- Check up to see how he’s doing using Furbo’s camera. This way, we could determine how long he’s able to be alone and we could prevent panic attacks.
- Intermittently give treats to help counter-condition him to being alone. Most dogs won’t eat if they’re panicking, but the Furbo would allow you to feed your dog while you’re gone if your dog isn’t upset enough to stop eating. This also helps you test how stressed your dog is: if (s)he’s too stressed to eat, (s)he’s too stressed.
- Determine what’s causing the barking. If you’re not sure if your dog’s barking is separation anxiety or not, you can use a Furbo to see what’s going on. Maybe your dog is actually barking at something – and then you’ve got a different training plan than if you’re working through separation anxiety.
The only downside of the Furbo is that it doesn’t necessarily deliver treats with timely precision. The speed of the treat-dispensing depends on your Wifi connection, so there can be a several-second (or even several-minute) delay.
If your dog’s separation anxiety isn’t very severe, that’s not a huge deal. Just deliver treats every 5, 10, 20, 40 minutes – whatever you need.
But if your dog is in early training and needs treats every 30 seconds, the Furbo wouldn’t cut it. You’d want something more expensive (like a Pet Tutor) then.
The Real Reason I Love My Furbo
While it’s super nice to be able to keep Barley’s separation anxiety in check with a Furbo, that’s not the main reason I’m now a lover of this gadget.
It’s also not because the Furbo lets me see my dog’s beautiful face while I’m gone (though that’s great, too).
It’s because yesterday, my Furbo basically stopped a heart attack.
I was working on my laptop on a beautiful second-story coffee shop overlooking the Costa Rican Pacific coast. I glanced down just in time to see a sopping wet black and white border collie prancing by, his tail high.
Barley has white paws and his tail doesn’t curl when he walks.
Besides, wouldn’t my Barley be playing fetch with a hapless tourist if he’d actually escaped?
But I was still panicking. I wasn’t sure enough.
The dog disappeared into the crowd.
Doubt rose within me about whether to race home and confirm that Barley was safely at home, or to race after this dog to make sure it wasn’t MY dog.
Then I remembered my Furbo!
I checked the camera and saw Barley fast asleep on a massive pile of pillows. I tossed him some treats and took 10 deep breaths.
If I never use the Furbo again, it was worth it for that peace of mind.
Kayla is from Ashland, Wisconsin but currently lives on the Panamerican Highway. She holds a degree in biology from Colorado College and has spent years working in zoos, animal shelters, and as a private dog trainer. She is currently putting her knowledge to use as a freelance writer while she builds Journey Dog Training. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She shares her life with her dog Barley and her boyfriend Andrew.