As most pet owners will attest, we're willing to try just about anything if it might make our four-legged friends' lives better. But with so many new-fangled gadgets on the market (and so many of us ready to return to work and travel), it's hard to know what's worth it. Ask any tech-savvy dog parent, and it's pretty likely that they're aware of the Furbo dog camera. It offers the ultimate wish of many pet owners: The ability to be there for your dog, even when you're not. The only problem? It's not exactly cheap, though you get a lot of high-tech features like a 1080p camera, 160° view angle, and built-in Bluetooth functionality.
When the fine folks at Chewy kindly offered me a chance to try the Furbo out myself, I knew I had to find out. Plus, an upcoming trip served as a great opp to test out all of the premium features. Ahead, me (and my rescue, Miso) get immersed in the Furbo experience.
I consider myself a decently tech-savvy person, but I have a feeling even the most Luddite among us would agree that the Furbo was super easy to set up. The box came with the device (which is about a foot tall), a charging cable, and a quick start guide — no extra bells and whistles.
Next, I downloaded the Furbo app from the App Store — it's free, but keep in mind that the Furbo Dog Nanny subscription (which includes cloud storage for videos, among other premium features) is not. However, every Furbo comes with a free one-month trial of Dog Nanny, so you can test it for yourself before paying.
It took me about five minutes to set up my Furbo from the app. After plugging it in, I created an account, paired it to my phone, and added a name. Last step: Filling the base with Miso's favourite pumpkin-flavoured treats.
At first, I positioned the Furbo facing my apartment's living room. Miso is a total couch potato, so I figured he would spend a lot of time there when I was not home. However, after tuning into the Furbo remotely, I saw...nada. While the Furbo can give you a pretty wide view of your space, the camera itself can't move (though it can zoom in and out). When my boyfriend came home that afternoon, we decided to move the Furbo's location to face the front door in an attempt to witness more pup action. The next day, we were not surprised to see that Miso spent a lot of his time sitting and/or sleeping on the doormat. It was adorable, heartbreaking, and wholesome all at once.
As you can see, the video and picture quality of the Furbo is actually pretty good. Once we figured out the best view, I also loved zooming in to get an extra good peek at Miso. Another A+ feature is the option to take screenshots or videos from the live feed; all in all, the Furbo is there to make all your #content dreams come true.
Tech specs are nice and all, but let's get onto one of the Furbo's biggest draws: The ability to toss treats to your pet from your phone. I wanted to love this feature so much, but in all honesty, I rarely used it during my five-day trip. The set-up instructions encouraged a positive association with the device by feeding your dog treats from it early on, but the sound that it makes while dispensing still spooked Miso a bit and made him bark. This is not Furbo's fault in any way, but still, something to keep in mind with smaller or anxiety-prone pups.
While you may not be keen on signing up for more push notifications on your phone, I will say that Furbo's were quite useful. You can set up alerts for audio cues like barking, howling, and crying, in addition to visual ones; these include when a person enters the frame in addition to whenever your dog is walking around.
Another key feature of the Furbo is the two-way audio, which allows you to listen and talk to your dog via the device. This ended up being somewhat helpful in calming Miso down if he was barking, but also confused him since he was all, where's Karina? That said, if you're not above cooing to your phone in public (totally normal pet parent behaviour, right?) then this will prove to be one of the best features Furbo has to offer.
After trying the Furbo out for almost a full week, I have to say: It's pretty awesome. Since I adopted Miso during the pandemic and have been spending lots of time at home, I wasn't clamoring to buy it just yet. But as things open back up, I know that our "new normal" wouldn't last forever. This past trip was the first time I'd left him at home, but it likely won't be the last, and the separation anxiety (from me) was definitely real. In that sense, Furbo came through in a major way since I could still keep an eye on him and make sure he was okay.
While Furbo isn't without its faults — for one, it absolutely drained my battery life, and a 360° lens would be a game-changer — I'd definitely consider buying dog-parent friends and coworkers this as a gift. I have a feeling it beats any of the cheaper knockoff devices in terms of performance and quality any day. (Plus, when it comes to paying for quality pet products, the limit doesn't exist.) At $200 (£146), it's not an inexpensive item, but if you're lucky you can find it on sale. It's currently $162 (£188) at Chewy!
Oh, and did I mention that Furbo compiles a daily highlight reel of what your dog's antics set to a soundtrack of generic jaunty music? Feast your eyes on the adorable-ness, below.
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