Everyone knows that dogs are smart. From bomb-sniffing K-9s to pups being trained in sign language and pooches trained in smell out rare gorillas, our four-legged friends can fit into some four-legged smarty pants. But there is a new crop of dog geniuses popping up: The “creative” type, with the latest being a puppy artist from Minnesota painting with brush in mouth. But just how clever is your pup? Could you be living with a slobbery little da Vinci under your roof or a mini Einstein?
New York-based developer Laura Tallardy designed an app to help you figure it out. Tallardy, who also designs apps for kiddos and illustrates children’s books, was inspired when she visited School for the Dogs, an animal training and education center in Manhattan.
“A friend of mine runs the school,” says Tallardy. “Her dog, Amos, loves her iPad, so she started teaching other dogs how to use them, but she used mostly apps designed for humans. She suggested I create an app just for dogs.”
Thus, App for Dog was born.
Amos playing with the app:
App for Dog consists of three main features: a training component that clicks when the dog touches the screen; a YES/NO button feature, where you ask your pup questions and she selects an answer; and, the most fun, a painting program where little puppy noses and paws can create a masterpiece.
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“The colors change automatically and randomly so you get a different, unique painting every time,” Tallardy says. “I’m working on an update for this spring that will let you order prints of your dog’s paintings on canvases, mouse pads and a new way to save paintings within the app and email them to friends and family.” Genius.
But how is App for Dog different from other pup-friendly apps? First of all, it was specially created with dogs in mind. “Dog paws and noses aren’t very accurate, so all of the games use the entire touch screen. The dog doesn’t have to tap exactly in the button or exactly on the clicker, as long as a tap is registered somewhere on the screen, it’ll work,” says Tallardy.
Dogs also see and process the world differently than we do, and App for Dog takes that into account. “The buttons are calibrated to a dog’s visual spectrum — they see in a range of yellow to blue, so the buttons are bright blue and yellow to be visually distinctive to a dog,” Tallardy says.
To get your dog interested in an iPhone or iPad, School for the Dogs sometimes runs a workshop, called iDogs, to help dogs learn how to use touch screens. If workshops aren’t your thing, Tallardy says it’s pretty easy to teach your pup to use the app. “Get your dog interested in your phone, and every time he touches his nose to the screen, praise him and give him a little treat. Dogs learn fast and he’ll soon be tapping away along with you.”
App for Dog has been well received so far, and has been mentioned in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Daily Mail. Even more than the critical praise for her work, though, Tallardy loves seeing the art dogs make using her app. “Someone created an adorable video of their dog using the app, it’s one of my favorite things ever,” she says.
If you’d like your pup to try his paw at being an artiste, head over to App for Dog.