Canine markets in everything

by on August 13, 2013 at 3:39 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

At a recent class in New York City on how to use iPads, an instructor had a remedy ready for distracted students: She smeared the screen with peanut butter.

One student, a Hungarian hunting dog named DJ Sam, ate it up.

Dog trainer Anna Jane Grossman began providing private iPad lessons to dogs last year. About 25 of her clients have signed up, and she is planning a 90-minute iPad clinic for dogs later this month, where they will learn to nose the screen to activate apps.

“People always say, ‘Oh, can you have my dog do my online banking?’ ” Ms. Grossman says. In reality, dogs don’t “necessarily do very useful things on the iPad,” she adds. “But I don’t necessarily do very useful things on the iPad either.”

Ms. Grossman is part of a nascent but growing group touting the use of apps for pets. They say the apps can entertain pets stranded alone at home, teach valuable motor skills and even promote social behavior by engaging loner animals.

Felines are involved too:

Brooklyn cat owner David Snetman intended to let his cat, Pickle, play with his iPad until he tired of it. An hour later, Pickle was still whacking at the screen. Although Pickle’s interest never flagged, Mr. Snetman hasn’t let him play again since. “It seems very frustrating for him,” Mr. Snetman says.

…He and business partner Nate Murray developed it after an app they designed for children flopped. They now have three cat iPad apps, including one that allows cats to paint on a screen and “Game for Cats,” which encourages cats to swat a laser dot, mouse or moth scurrying across the screen. Mr. Murray says the apps have been downloaded more than one million times. The basic version of the original is free; others sell for $1.99.

There is more here, interesting throughout.  At first I thought this was a kind of novelty item, but there is a good deal of evidence that many of the pets are quite absorbed in these games or perhaps even obsessed with them.  Is it wrong for me to think that some of these games are, using behavioral inducements, actually torturing the pet, a bit like perpetual catnip?

Andrew' August 13, 2013 at 4:56 am

Big mouse and big squirrel have finally joined forces. Follow the acorns, people.

Mark Thorson August 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm

He means, of course, that the NSA is monitoring our dogs too. Where the dog is, the master is.

Mark Thorson August 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

He means the NSA is monitoring our dogs too. Where the dog is, the master is.

dan1111 August 13, 2013 at 5:02 am

A free game that cats swat at? Sounds amusing.

An expensive private lesson to try to get dogs interested in using an iPad? Civilization as we know it is doomed.

Anonymous coward August 13, 2013 at 5:11 am

At first I thought this was a kind of novelty item, but there is a good deal of evidence that many of the humans are quite absorbed in these games or perhaps even obsessed with them. Is it wrong for me to think that some of these games are, using behavioral inducements, actually torturing the human, a bit like perpetual dope?

another coward August 16, 2013 at 12:01 am

At first I thought blogs were a kind of novelty item, but there is a good deal of evidence that many of the humans are quite absorbed in these blogs or perhaps even obsessed with them. Is it wrong for me to think that some of these blogs are, using behavioral inducements, actually torturing the human, a bit like perpetual dope?

ChrisA August 13, 2013 at 6:05 am

And people wondered where the jobs would come from to replace those lost to automation.

John Mansfield August 13, 2013 at 7:58 am

By the time this trend has run its course, a pet will be indistinguishable legally and socially from a 15-year-old human, except that the pets will be allowed in bars.

Tom Noir August 13, 2013 at 9:25 am

Is it wrong for me to think that some of these games are, using behavioral inducements, actually torturing the pet, a bit like perpetual catnip?

I always wonder the same thing about laser pointers… cats will chase the beam to the point of exhaustion, but obviously never catch it. At the end of the day it’s quite difficult to say, though. Animals are different from us and we can’t really ask them what they do or don’t like.

Linda Seebach August 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Cats differ. Some ignore the red dot, some run away, and of the ones who will chase it, most do so briefly, a couple of minutes tops, and then they yawn, sit down and wash. Never seen one chase the red dot “to the point of exhaustion.” Maybe they’re the ones who would be compulsive gamblers, if cats gambled.

Jeff J August 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

Is it wrong for me to think that some apps are, using behavioral inducements, actually torturing people?

Marie August 13, 2013 at 10:26 am

“The Fix” discusses how dopamine is now thought to be the neurochemical that governs “wanting” more than “liking”. “The Power of Habit” notes that in the brains (possibly rewired) of compulsive gamblers a near win registers chemically like a win, while in non-gamblers a near win registers chemically like a loss. Don’t know how that would transfer to a cat always wanting the laser dot, never getting it, always in a near-win situation.

ElamBend August 13, 2013 at 10:42 am

People really will pay for just about anything. Especially for their pets. I am often tempted to come up with some outlandish service-based business (like life-coach) and see if I can sell it. For a high hourly only, of course.

msgkings August 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I know some pet owners that would pay top dollar for a life coach for their cat.

David August 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Young cats will chase a laser point, old cats will look at it with mild curiosity and do nothing. Either they know better or don’t care any more. (Very young cats won’t but they also won’t react to small birds, until the circuits kick in, which seems to be about the time they can sit up. The first thing they do is stare at birds, if there happen to be some–in a pet shop for example).
Certain kinds of small jumping spider will also pursue laser points, and try to pounce on them when they get a particular distance and angle.

Are they frustrated and tortured. That’s one for Bertrand Russell and Ludwig W. to puzzle over.

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