Virtual pets are not new, but this system expands on virtual pets by including an actual toy. The toy robot dog develops—changing its behavior, skills, mood, personality and responsiveness based on the virtual interactions the person has while gaming with this system. The addition of a physical toy is supposed to lead to a stronger bond than a game alone can create.
A toy dog is no substitute for a real dog, but I think the educational opportunities are intriguing. Just as people can learn about parenting through virtual experiences, there is the potential for people to learn skills from Wappy Dog that could enhance their ability to raise, care for and train a real dog.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.