I don’t own a dog, but if I did, I bet I would accidentally overfeed it. That’s because every time it would look at me with those big brown eyes, begging for another meal, I’d go ahead and feed it. Again. And again.
I hear real dog owners also get played by their pets. Fido looks at one owner with hungry eyes and gets a meal and then, later that day, does the same act for the housemate, who also feeds Fido.
YaDoggie could end this charade. The tiny upstart dog food company unveiled the YaDoggie Smart Scoop and app on Wednesday. Together they keep track of when you’ve fed your dog and, naturally, when it’s time to order more dog food.
The Smart Scoop, which starts shipping this holiday season, comes free with the first order of YaDoggie dog food. It looks and feels like a regular dog food scoop. Inside, though, is a Bluetooth radio to connect with your phone and an accelerator to keep track of what you’re doing with the scoop.
It measures, two actions: scooping of the food out of the bag and the dumping of the food into a dog food bowl. The smart scoop doesn’t measure the weight of each scoop, which means it’s still up to you to take relatively consistent scoops.
YaDoggie CEO Sol Lipman told me that the app that tracks the scoops is doing a lot of math on what a scoop of one of their food varieties equates to for your dog on a nutritional level.
YaDoggie also claims the Smart Scoop’s motion algorithms can’t be fooled by somebody shaking an empty smart scooper.
The information the scoop gathers is combined with a dog on-boarding system that collects your dog’s weight, weight goals, and activity level. This lets you customize the feeding regimen for your dog. The app can manage multiple dogs, but it helps if you feed all the dogs on the same schedule.
YaDoggie’s app also eases your dog into eating their dog food, since abrupt diet switches aren’t good for your dog.
However, the thing that’s really going to make this work, is the little green light on the Smart Scoop. If the light is green when you pick up the scoop, it’s okay to feed Fido. If it’s red, someone already fed the dog.
Once you’re finally properly feeding your dog, YaDoggie will use its feeding system to keep track of how much your dog eats and institute, with your permission, a predictive dog food shipping system.
Obviously, this feature helps YaDoggie, which is trying to sell dog food, as much as it helps you.
YaDoggie is also building some incentives into joining the service, which costs roughly $50 a month, filling the first YaDoggie dog food shipment with other goodies including the Smart Scoop, tennis balls, treats and, yes, dog poop bags. YaDoggie will keep including the Smart Scoop until the end of this year, when they may start charging for it.
I asked Lipman why they didn’t make a cat food Smart Scoop. “Cats don’t eat as much. So, there’s the same number of fixed costs and less food. We also just love dogs,” he said.