Five dog-specific apps to Help you Live Better

Today, there are mobile apps for almost every conceivable topic or need and because so many people now own smartphones and tablets, mobile app usage has seen huge growth worldwide.  It is estimated that by 2020, mobile apps will generate a staggering $189 billion worldwide.1 

There are some really interesting apps that have been developed specifically for dog owners.  We’ve taken a look at five free apps (all available for Android and iOS), which could potentially assist dog owners with many aspects of dog care.

Dog Vacay

Despite the boom in dog-friendly hotel options across the nation, there are times when you need to travel but just can’t take your favorite companion with you.  Although there are excellent kennels available in the US, some people prefer their dogs to have a more personalized pet-sitting service and this led to the development of the DogVacay app.

Dog Vacay allows you to connect with dog sitters in your area who offer services ranging from dog walking, to taking your dog to vet appointments, or caring for your dog in your home or theirs when you are out of town.

With a 24/7 customer support service and daily photo or video updates, you can travel or use the daycare option knowing that your dog is in good hands.

Pet First Aid

Just like people, pets get sick and have accidents too.  Although many of us are familiar with the correct first aid procedures when dealing with people, we’re not necessarily as confident when required to be first responders in pet emergencies. The Pet First Aid app developed by the American Red Cross remedies that situation, allowing you to check symptoms and watch videos on how best to respond to common emergency situations.

You can learn about early warning signs, learn first aid steps, and take quizzes on pet health and safety. For more serious conditions, the app will also tell you the location of the nearest emergency animal hospital or veterinarian’s office.

A great app to use in emergencies and a great resource to help you provide emergency care for your pet until you can get to a veterinarian.



If you’re a dog owner, you will know that no matter how adorable your dog’s appearance, trying to capture “that look” in a photo can be extremely difficult.  This is where BarkCam comes in.  Using a variety of different sounds to get your dog’s attention, the sounds are linked to the camera’s shutter button, so you trigger sound and take the photo at the same time.

When you’ve got your favorite picture, you can edit to your heart’s content using filters, stickers or even text.  You can share pictures on the platform itself or share it on either Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.



This app requires a phone for you and a Whistle GPS collar for your dog, which then allows you to track not only your dog’s location but also his heart rate.  Designed to help avoid dog’s getting lost, it also allows you to create custom activity goals for your dog, based on breed, size, and age and can be modified depending on which family member is walking the dog at that particular time.

It is important to keep in mind that because this app has nationwide GPS coverage in the US, there is potential to run down your phone battery much faster on longer walks.

Although this app is free, the required collar costs around $50*.


Whistle GPS dog collar




There are plenty of apps on the market for runners and walkers and this app is quite similar, but designed specifically for those who walk dogs. The app gives you information on the best dog walking routes in your area and if you use one of these or add one of your own, the app allows you to track progress made and allows you to save this data to compare against future walks. Information on dog parks, waste-bag dispensers, dog-friendly areas and water fountains are all given in this dog-friendly app.
Once again, it is important to note that continually using GPS, does dramatically drain battery power.



We have only taken a look at 5 free apps, but there are far more on the market for dog owners to use. Why not look for one that would make your lifestyle easier?  As businesses are increasingly being encouraged to develop apps, it is possible that in the not too distant future we will see an even greater number of dog-friendly apps, which will likely become more interactive and more personalized to meet user need.

Do you currently use any apps on your cell phone or tablet that make your dog care duties more manageable or is there an app that you would love to see available for dog owners? Let us know which apps make your life with your dog better.

*Price correct at time of article posting.










Taking the plunge with dogs and kids: Part 1

Many families like to vacation near beaches, rivers or lakes and all of these have one thing in common – water!  When there are large bodies of water present, we should always think of the safety of our children and our dogs.  This two-part series looks at how to keep dogs and kids safe so that everyone can have a fun and safe time on vacation or on weekend trips.


Part 1: Kids

Ideally, swimming is an activity that should be introduced when children are still infants.  Many pools and community programs offer instructor-led “Mommy and Me” swim sessions that allow the babies to get used to being in the water and are great for Moms and babies to bond further.


It is preferable to then progress to swimming lessons with a trained swimming instructor who can show your child the correct techniques from the beginning – it is a lot more difficult to unlearn bad habits and techniques.  This type of swimming instruction is usually available on a group or an individual basis.  Group sessions tend to be less expensive, but as there are more children involved there tends to be less actual swimming time.  If your budget won’t stretch to professional lessons, you may want to consider teaching them to swim yourself. This does not always work, as learning to swim can be a frustrating process and sometimes kids will take instruction better from a swimming instructor than from a parent. It is also problematic if you have multiple children. If you are keen to give it a go and will be working with just one child, here are some ideas to make parent-child swimming instruction successful.

Make it a regular date

In order for parent-child swimming instruction to work, kids need to swim regularly and preferably once a week.  Make a point of assigning this time in your calendar once a week and sticking to it, except when your child is sick.


Keep it short and keep it varied

Swimming is a very tiring activity and as much as we want our kids to sleep well at night, having prolonged swimming sessions when they are learning to swim can be counterproductive.  It’s far better to keep it short (15 – 20 minutes for very young and new swimmers) and to keep lesson activities varied.

Make it fun

Making the swimming lessons fun with games and other activities is crucial to keeping children engaged and in building their confidence in the water.  For very young kids, use games involving nursery rhymes and plastic toys.  As they get older, continue to use those techniques, but also introduce games such as “red light, green light,” (where children kick like crazy on green, slow down on amber, and stop on red) to help improve specific swimming techniques. As they get slightly older, drop the nursery rhymes and include the use of more games, varying the games from session to session.

Kids of all ages will learn better if there is variety in the lesson.  If they get to use kickboards, pool noodles, and other flotation devices once in a while this will be beneficial.  Using these items helps to improve stroke technique, keeps them interested, and will leave them wanting to come back for more.  Not all community pools will allow their use, so check on that before taking yours along.



Make swimming enjoyable

Building up confidence in the water is vital so that kids are not afraid of the water and want to swim. As your little swimmer progresses in ability and confidence, you may want to think about enrolling in swimming clubs where a range of swimming and social opportunities will be offered.

Set rules

Make sure that your children know how to stay safe near a swimming pool.  They must always ask for permission to go in a pool and must have adult supervision during this time.  Rules such as not running by a pool are really important to follow. Use life vests or floaties for young kids when they are not actually practicing their swimming strokes, but do not rely on the floaties for safety. For young kids and those who are not strong swimmers, life vests should be worn for activities such as river floating or when in lake water.  If swimming in the ocean, be conscious of the tide and possible currents.  Where possible try to swim in a lifeguard supervised zone.



Even when your child has become a good swimmer, it is possible to get into difficulties in the water.  Always ensure that children are supervised to minimize risk and ensure that you are all able to enjoy a fun and safe vacation.

Learning to swim is not a luxury, it is a necessity! Being able to swim is such an important skill to have.  Swimming provides fantastic exercise for able-bodied children and those with physical challenges and is an activity that can be continued throughout their lives.

Some of my happiest and most memorable times have taken place around water with my children. What experiences have you had? We’d love to hear about them.



Car Safety: Distracted Driving

Last week concluded the series about special activities to keep yourself and your dog busy and happy. Several of these activities meant going a distance by car. This led me to think once more about safety in the car. However, unlike my first series, these next few posts will not focus on accessories that can make driving safer. Instead I’ll be looking at how you can accomplish that by changing your own behavior. A lot of road accidents happen because people are distracted and miss something or don’t have sufficient time to respond to danger because of it. So in this series I will be talking about ways of avoiding distraction.

Trouble ahead if you don't pay attention
Trouble ahead if you don’t pay attention

First, let’s start with the obvious one: use of cell phones and smartphones. Some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking that you are tired of hearing about this. However, statistics show that a significant number of accidents are still caused by cell phone use behind the wheel. And yet, most people are aware of how dangerous this behavior is, but for some reason they feel invincible and think that they will never be in an accident because of it. They are wrong, so put that phone away and keep your eyes on the road!

Related to cell phone use is fiddling with the GPS or the in car entertainment system. When you really want to change the route or destination the GPS should take, try finding a safe place to pull over and do so. Or better yet, ask your shotgun passenger to do it. This way, you can keep your eyes on the road and keep your attention focused on the current situation and what other road users are doing.

Cell phones, the number one distraction
Cell phones, the number one distraction

Fiddling with the entertainment system can be a no-go too. It’s all right to change the radio, if you can do it quickly and preferably without looking for the correct button. But connecting your phone or any other device via USB, inserting or removing a CD or tape are all things that should be done at a standstill.

These are just a few tips on how you can avoid being distracted behind the wheel, next week we’ll be looking at some more ways, including some tips for parents, with children of human and canine variety. Until then, drive safely!

Traveling by car with your dog

Last week’s post was about the last of the car safety items: the hammock. Today’s topic is also about traveling but in a more general sense. I’ll be covering some tips and advice about traveling with your dog. Again, my focus will be on traveling by car, though some of it will be valid in other situations too.

Be prepared

Before going anywhere with your pooch, make sure you have packed all the necessary ready to go. This ranges from truly vital stuff such as a leash and food to more trivial things such as their favorite toy animal. The full list of basic doggy travel kit includes, in random order:

dog treats
Bring lots of treats
  • Food and treats
  • Food and water bowl
  • Water bottle for in car and on walks
  • Leash and collar, also a back-up one
  • Towels and blankets
  • Bedding
  • Brushes and other grooming tools
  • Bags to clean up after your dog
  • First aid kit
  • Toys and distractions to keep them busy during the ride
  • Any necessary medication
  • The number of a vet at your destination, and your own vet’s number too
  • crate, barrier or other preferred way of securing your dog in the car


I strongly advise that before you leave you take the dog for a check-up at the vets. This way you can both go on adventure without any worries. It also wouldn’t do any harm to inquire whether your pooch might need some vaccinations to protect him from viruses that are common in your destination. These might not be the same as can be found in your home area, thus your dog could be unprotected against them.

In the car

Make the car ride fun
Make the car ride fun

The day has come and now you’re in the car and en route to your great holiday adventure. Dogs are not people, but when it comes to car travel their needs are similar. Just like us they need frequent stops to stretch their legs and have a pee break. Make sure that water is always available to them at these stops to avoid dehydration.  And just like kids, you’ll need to keep your dog entertained. Some dogs may love just looking at the windows during the whole ride, but most dogs I know get bored and start fussing after a while. So give them a bone to chew on, or play a small game that will stimulate their minds.

Keep all this in mind and your trip will turn out great. What are the thing you do to prepare for a car ride with your dogs. Are there things that you just have to take along Let me know in the comments.