A University of Texas at Dallas alum is creating an artificial intelligence-powered app making dog training more accessible, affordable, and convenient.
Issues such as health problems and problematic behaviors are the reasons many owners re-home their pets, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Doggo wants to do its part to ensure more rescue animals stay in their forever homes.
UTD engineering grad Jai Ghanekar is working with Srishti Goel, who majored in materials engineering at Columbia University, to integrate machine learning, animal cognition, and behavioral science into an app offering personalized dog training sessions.
It started out as a fun project with no more intent than to track their own dogs’ training progress. When Goel and Ghanekar introduced the app to their community, they received an overwhelming response.
Within the last six months, the app has been brought to life completely bootstrapped by its creators. They completed minimal viable product testing in August and are now looking for backers through Kickstarter.
HOW DOGGO WORKS
Doggo records breed, age, and gender to develop a day-to-day plan, which limits training sessions to 10 minutes. Short bursts of training have been proven to bring about “more effective” long-term behavior changes, according to the startup.
The app maps and adapts to the skills dogs are learning. It records how long it takes and how many times it took for dogs to complete each task. Once the dog masters the command, users are able to move on to a new trick.
“Training is the single biggest factor in determining the quality of life of a dog,” Goel said in a release. “And it isn’t something that you can do for an hour a week in a class, or in a few weeks at a boarding kennel. It’s something you need to do every single day.”
“Training is the single biggest factor in determining the quality of life of a dog.”
Instead of paying for an expensive trainer or boarding, the app allows users to teach their dog basic commands — for free. Once the dog has mastered the basics, users can purchase a premium version for more tricks and access to behavior experts and veterinarians.
For each premium subscriber, Doggo will give a free premium subscription to a shelter volunteer working in animal behavior rehabilitation.
Goel told Dallas Innovates Doggo will have five to six beta rounds to test the app. The first one will be named Alpha Round after Goel’s dog and include participation by Carrollton-based Operation Kindness.
The official launch of the app is slated for January, just in time for National Train Your Dog Month.
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