Dr Roger Mugford told Pet Trade Xtra at Crufts he is definitely NOT retiring, but is working on PupPod, a fun interactive high-tech gaming platform for dogs and pet parents, and is still an active animal psychologist and behavioural therapist.
"That's for sure. No no," he said on Sunday at Crufts. "I can tell you I'm stopping as the CEO of Company of Animals because I've got a guy who can do a better job than me, he's called Paul Nolan, but I'm certainly not retiring. I'm a director, I'm the owner and actually we're doing new ventures, exciting new ventures, which are nothing to do with dogs pulling on the lead, it's about canine cognition or how dogs think.
"I'm working with a Seattle based tech company, a little company called Microsoft, and others and we're developing a game that you can play with your dog that relies on communicating with your dog through your mobile phone setting complicated tasks, a bit like a Skinner box in the operant conditioning regime but all reward based and fun and I can watch what my dog is doing from the comfort of a beach or my shower or my office or the back of a taxi because it's all done through the wonders of the Internet and Wi-Fi.
"Of course it's all very reward based so we'll be launching PupPods into the UK. That will be a learning system. You can watch him on video and we call that video and you can interact with him and it will be a worldwide launch in 2019.
"What I'm interested in is making life more fun, more intellectually demanding for dogs and really utilising the intelligence of the dog and providing owners with an insight into 'My goodness that is really complicated, and he solved level five. Now let's move on to Level 6.' And we talk about a dog having to do tasks like press a button here, touch a button there, respond when a particular light comes on, respond to a particular sound, respond to my voice and perform certain tasks otherwise he doesn't get a reward. It's called the Internet of Things, it's linking everything together.
"We've even got a system where when the doorbell rings the animal will get a reward, so that when people come to the home and don't bark they will be given a reward if they do bark they don't get the reward. And so making the arrival of visitors good news rather than bad news. And then another system where if they don't bark for five minutes they get a reward. If they do bark within that five minutes they have to wait 20 minutes and dogs quickly learn their relationship and effectively I've been punished for barking and I'm paying the consequences I have to wait another 15 minutes for my next treat. So those are the ways that we're building up a system of dog enjoyment, dog pastimes, through technology, which all are all fun and will inspire and and amuse their owners. Humans at the moment feel very guilty that dogs are left alone for so long and not stimulated. Well you know here's the answer.
"And now everything is possible. We do a much better job in terms of animal psychiatry treatment because of the mobile phone. Everyone has a photograph or better film of their dog doing good things and doing bad things than they ever had. So now I can project into their homes their lifestyles and I don't have to sit on the M25 for half of my life going to them. We use Skype of course in conversations and the new media is opening up so many windows and opportunities that didn't exist before. Thank goodness we're living in the millennium."
See more about the launch of the new Halti and The No-Pull Harness from Company of Animals here
Listen to the Pet Trade Xtra interview here: