They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but a UK pet food brand Wagg thinks otherwise with the development of a TV controller for canines. Researchers claim that British dogs watch up to nine hours of TV per week, making it not such a barking mad idea after all. The mat-like remote, designed by computer designers at the University of Central Lancashire, and pet company Wagg, has three oversized dog-friendly buttons shaped like a bone, ball — and yes, a ‘paws’ button — so that pet pooches can switch the set on and off and change channels. Plus, to ensure that your mutt doesn’t make a meal of the device, it’s made of waterproof hard-wearing plastic. Wagg marketing manager Daniel Reeves explains why the gadget will be a howling success. 

What inspired you to create a remote control for dogs?

Dogs are such an important part of family life, so why shouldn’t they get the chance to control the TV, just like everyone else does? We created the dog remote control to coincide with the launch of the one off show, “Dogglebox,” which involves a cast made entirely of dogs.

What functions does it have?

It allows dogs to control the TV when the family leaves the room. It is the next step in the growing trend of animal computer interaction (ACI), which has seen many pet-focused apps and interactive toys launch over the past few years.

Why do dogs need a TV control? 

We carried out research to suggest that British dogs watch on average of nine hours of TV per week, with 91 percent of British dog owners saying that their dog regularly sits on the sofa and watches TV with them.

Is it easy for dogs to understand how to use it

This is what the testing process is for — we are still gathering the research and feedback from dogs and their owners, although we worked with Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, PhD Researcher in Animal Computer Interaction Design at the University of Central Lancashire, to develop the prototype, who has helped us design the remote to be as dog-friendly as possible.

What’s next?

The model remote is currently being trialed with a specialist panel of pooches, with experts monitoring their reactions to the buttons, sounds and colors. Following the analysis stage, we will approach tech companies with a view to putting the model into mass production.

-Dmitry Belyaev