How to Use Technology to Outsource Pet Care

In the end, pet owners will probably agree that technology isn’t an adequate substitute for human companionship. But some products are nice to have just in case you are pressed on time.

What follows are the products that did — and did not — make the cut after I tested them on my pet corgi, Max Fischer, and my cat, Cuddy.

The Best Pet Tech

Of the many pet products I tested, a few stood out: Wag, an app for hiring a dog walker; DogVacay, which is billed as an Airbnb for dog boarding; and Whistle, a tracker for monitoring your pet’s location.

Wag is an app that most dog owners should consider installing on their phones just to have as a backup option. It is the best-designed and most efficient app for summoning a dog walker with some or no advance notice.

The Wag app is surprisingly thorough from the start. After signing up for the service, it asks whether you want to receive a free lock box so that dog walkers can get your house key with a combination code when you aren’t there. I opted to get the lock box, and a courier delivered it a day later. Installing it was a breeze: A text message appeared on my phone with the combination code to open the box; I dropped a spare key into the box and attached it to my door knob.

Where Wag truly shines is the experience of connecting you with a walker. You can book a specific date and time in advance or summon a walker as soon as possible, and the app will match you up with someone who is available. When I chose to book a walk immediately, a walker showed up at my door to fetch Max about 30 minutes later.

The Wag app includes the ability to follow the walk in real time on a map. My walker even sent short videos of the walk and marked wherever Max relieved himself — a superfluous but strangely satisfying feature. After the trip was completed, I received a report card summarizing…

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