As Summer draws to a close and Christmas creeps into our thoughts, we get to combine two of our favourite things - gift ideas for dogs and dog owners, with the help of our three review dogs, Mia, Christopher and Danny.
Before we begin their latest review it's worth explaining a little about each dog's personality.
Mia is a funny little character. What she thinks is funny is generally inappropriate (hitting people, for example) and she loves, loves LOVES FOOD! She'd go through a brick wall to get that last morsel of food. Seriously. She also loves having something the boys don't, it doesn't matter what it is. At 10 1/2 now, she's had a tough couple of years battling and beating cancer and has become quite set in her ways.
Danny is a rescue dog and still largely shapes how he acts based on which dog he's with. If he's playing with Chris, he's happy to be rambunctious. If he's with Mia, he's laid back. If he's with the cat, he assesses her mood before approaching (clever boy).
Christopher is a little like Mia in that he'll forge his own path. He's laid back, loves to have fun but takes the winning of toys very seriously. He loves people (particularly his Uncle Sean who he has a bit of an obsession with). Chris loves toys, that's what motivates him. He takes every bit of food he gets to his lab (bed) before eating, it's almost like he savours every taste.
The reason for explaining this will become clear as we continue below, so now that that's out of the way, let's get onto the Petzi Treat Cam (RRP £135) review.
We knew it had been a big hit when it launched in the US but something we quickly discovered for ourselves is just how much fun it is. It's definitely something all the family can enjoy wherever they are, as long as they have a wi-fi connection.
The treat cam arrived and was very easy to set up.
After it passed inspection, we had to decide where to position it.
With all three dogs being different sizes (Mia being the smallest) we wanted to make sure wherever it was it was suitable for everyone. At the same time, we knew it had to be relatively close to a plug.
With the Petzi you have the option to mount it on the wall or simply sit it on a flat surface. We chose the latter knowing we could always then move it higher or lower if needed.
Once we'd decided where it would go, we then read the rest of the instructions and the all important advice on how to choose which treats to fill it with.
Harder treats are better, which makes sense because you can easily imagine moist treats sticking together, and of course, the size is all important too. You don't want treats getting stuck and your dog becoming frustrated if you set it to dispense while you're away from home. Luckily, the instructions give an estimated size guide which I read with the help of Christopher.
What we also discovered is that the larger the treat size, the fewer treats are dispensed so it's worth noting that if you want your dog to have more treats per serving, then go smaller.
Once we'd selected our treats and had them to hand, I was quite sure Mia had clocked what was going on now and we were going to be put on 'Mia's timer of acceptability' to dispense the treats one way or another so it was time to remove the white cover using the side grips, shown below, and add some treats into the top of the Petzi.
Lastly, we had to download the app which is compatible for both apple and android devices, so you can find in both app stores. You can also save to a tablet such as iPads if you select to view iPhone apps and it works fine also.
Once downloaded you're guided through an easy set up where you register your account and can then begin adding your pets profiles.
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Others using Petzi can then 'awww' at your pets and let's be honest, who doesn't want other pet lovers to tell you how adorable they think your pets really are. Once you've set profiles up you can also then save photos using the treat cam and can assign them to your pet's profile on Petzi.
Something we quickly discovered is that this is definitely something all the family can enjoy, wherever they are, whoever they're with as long as they have a wi-fi connection.
As long as the device is switched on at the socket, you can log into your account on the app meaning you, or a family member with your login details, can talk to your pet using the microphone and dispense treats getting their own 'dog fix' while away from home.
Once you've logged into the app, a little jingle erupts from the Petzi's microphone signalling that the camera is active. In fact, I even think Danny's worked out that the red light of the active camera means treats are sure to come soon before the jingle even sounds.
Once active, you have the option of either clicking the camera symbol to capture what/who is in front of the Petzi or you can click the microphone symbol to speak. The sound quality from the speaker is good and you can adjust the volume using the app also.
Two of our three dogs have definitely become attuned to the sound and what then typically follows in the form of someone speaking to them or pressing the bone symbol from the app screen to dispense treats.
Mia and Danny waiting in front of the Petzi
Mia, again, pictured in front of the Petzi using its camera. Are you spotting a theme here?
In our case, Ryan and I both have the app on our phones and we knew living miles away Sean, Ryan's brother, also missed the dogs and would appreciate the Petzi so we gave him access to their account and he regularly logs in to have a chat with them (sadly the mic is one way so he can't hear their replies) and dispense treats like Father Christmas.
He was so taken by it that he logged in one night to show his friends how it all worked getting a face full of dogs up close and personal through the camera.
Mia alone in front of the Petzi. I think we'll call this her Petzi face
Coincidentally, we've suddenly discovered that our dogs are also choosing to sleep downstairs now for at least part of the night.
It must be a coincidence that they're also choosing to sleep near the Petzi.
One night they might just get a late night snack to reward their endeavours, the camera does after all have night vision.
The Petzi treat cam is definitely something the whole family gets enjoyment from, it's been a huge hit although we are conscious of the extra calories so taking this into account with meal times.
I was worried it may be something we'd use a few times then forget but whether it's a case that Mia won't allow us to forget it or not, having had it set up for some time now I know we'll continue to use because the level of enjoyment our three dogs get means it's worth it to them and to us to be able to see them and talk to them, regardless of the treating, when we're away from home.