Teach an Old Dog New Tech? Sure — Start With the iPad

The idea came from a joke, but Anna Jane Grossman is using the computer for dog-training.

Cathy Weselby  |  Aug 28th 2013


Think dogs aren’t up on using the latest technology? Think again. Dogs in New York City are now learning how to use an iPad. Anna Jane Grossman and her dog-training partner Kate Senisi run School for the Dogs in Manhattan, where they offer classes for canines to learn how to operate iPads and other tablets, according to Discovery News.

Grossman reports in her blog that she originally came up with the idea after reading a spoof article in TheAwl about an overachieving college student who, in addition to learning Mandarin, studying Borscht-belt comedy, and breeding Ibexes, was teaching her dog to use an iPad. Grossman thought, “I can do that.”

And so Amos, an eight-year-old Poodle/Yorkie mix, learned to use an iPad by swiping with his nose; To date, 25 dogs have gone through lessons.

“There’s not a huge amount of purpose to it — but the way I see it, we’re playing games all the time on our iPads anyway, so why not play games with our dogs?” Grossman told Discovery News.

Some dogs have required extra coaxing to adapt to the technology — and in these cases Grossman smears peanut butter on the screen. But not to worry, the iPads are protected in heavy-duty cases or wrapped in Saran wrap.

With dogs following their noses to navigate the Web, Grossman says the only thing stopping them from becoming more productive canine citizens is the lack of dog-oriented apps that are available. Buttons need to be a bit larger to accommodate the size of a dog’s nose and easy to activate.

Grossman uses an app called, “YesNo” by Simplified Touch, designed for nonverbal autistic people. Dogs nose-touch either the “yes” or “no” button, and Grossman is successfully teaching Amos to tell the difference between left and right using this app.

Grossman’s favorite app is “Big Camera Button,” which turns your entire iPad or iPhone screen into a camera. Dogs can snap “selfies” by simply touching the screen with their noses.

She’s also experimenting with using an audio-enabled app to get a seeing-eye dog to differentiate between dark and light pairs of socks to help a person dress. And a pilot client wants his dog to be able to touch his iPad to bring up the latest weather report.

Via Discovery News

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