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Dog bed uses vibration technology to tackle post-lockdown anxiety in dogs

After experiencing the impact and distress of separation anxiety experienced by her family dog, a student has designed a dog bed that uses vibration therapy to help keep dogs calm.

Claudine and her dog Toffee with her vibrating dog bed product

Claudine Khalil, 21, says that when her family went back to their workplaces and she returned to university after the lockdown, her family dog Toffee, a Cavachon was so distressed it destroyed furniture as well as barking and howling constantly.

“I found it so upsetting seeing how much separation anxiety affected my dog after it became so used to us being home all the time during lockdown,” said Claudine from London, Westminster who is studying BSc Product Design at Nottingham Trent University.

“This experience inspired me to try and design something that would be able to reduce tension and stress in dogs when they struggle with solitude as a result of their owners being away from the home.”

Research shows that our pets have experienced a period of ‘hyperattachment’ during the lockdown period of the pandemic and as such are at much greater risk of separation anxiety.

The dog bed Claudine has designed features vibration technology, which utilises a sensory stimulation approach to destress and promote a calming effect in dogs.  This is achieved by a vibrating box which is inserted through a zipper in the side of the bed and is powered by a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery.

In addition to the vibration therapy, the bed also features a memory foam padding and temperature regulation to further soothe the dog, with a changeable reflective foil layer that can be added for heat during winter or a self-cooling gel layer for the summer.

Claudine’s research included consulting with the RSPCA which said it was experiencing increased numbers of calls from owners whose dogs were exhibiting separation anxiety and very undesirable behaviour.

Her research also led her to work alongside a dog behavioural specialist as well as running a focus group with dog owners whose dogs were all experiencing separation anxiety post-lockdown.

As part of the continued development of the product it will also feature a companion phone app which utilises pressure sensors within the dog bed to alert the owner when his or her dog is in the bed. The owner will then be able to use the app wherever they are to select from a range of vibration modes to soothe and relax the dog.

Claudine, of the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, said: “I wanted to create a product which would not only help address separation anxiety experienced by dogs but also a way for owners to feel more connected to their dogs despite being away from the home.”

“Having a dog who suffers from separation anxiety, I know exactly how distressing it can be for dogs but also, their owners. I hope that my product can help dogs associate solitude with a time of relaxation and a safe space when they experience distress.”

Claudine’s product will be on display at the Art & Design Student Showcase from Saturday 28 May until Wednesday 1 June.

Product Design Senior Lecturer Dr Joseph Stewart said: “Claudine has shown how good research can inform good design.”

“Through speaking with real dog owners and specialists she identified a need for a product that can help keep dogs more calm at home and her dog bed seeks to do exactly that.”

  • Notes for editors

    Research referenced is from - Frontiers | Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Spark a Public Interest in Pet Adoption? | Veterinary Science (frontiersin.org)

    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    NTU was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards). It was the University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with over 33,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 4,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries.

    In the past 15 years, NTU has invested £450 million in tools, technology and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2019 UCAS UG acceptance data) It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    75% of NTU students go on to graduate-level employment or graduate-entry education / training within fifteen months of graduating (Guardian University Guide 2021).

    NTU is 4th globally (and 3rd in the UK) for sustainability in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Dog bed uses vibration technology to tackle post-lockdown anxiety in dogs

Published on 26 May 2022
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