A product to monitor and reduce dog anxiety

Final product_without labels_2


The goal of this project was to identify an unmet user need through primary and secondary research; develop functional and form prototypes to validate the need and to develop a business model.

Team members

Team members : Aaron McDaniel, Beth Herlin, Xinwei Yan, Gary Cheng, Neel Kishan, Peeyush Goyal

My role

User experience research lead:
Developed interview guides and conducted interviews; tested concepts through observation studies; assisted in refining the concept

Co-development lead:
Assisted in generating concepts, developing functional and form prototypes and in determining the cost to manufacture the final product


Identifying an opportunity area

Analyzed current social, economic and technological trends; sought inspiration from existing products and generated 107 opportunity areas

Filtered the 107 opportunity areas systematically to identify the final opportunity area

Oppurtinty generation and filtration

Opportunity area identified : “Enable pet owners to engage with their pet remotely”


Refining the opportunity area

Conducted interviews and learned that owners worry about their pet’s anxiety while they are away

Primary research - interviews_final

Conducted secondary research and learned that dogs are more likely than cats to face anxiety issues
Analyzed values offered by competing products dealing with dog anxiety issues

Refined opportunity


 Concept development


Performed a 6-3-5 brainstorming exercise to generate ideas for monitoring anxiety and reducing anxiety, followed by an affinity diagramming wherein each team member voted on the ideas generated


Final concept for monitoring anxiety


Final concepts for reducing anxiety


Sought user feedback on these concepts


Developed a Pugh matrix to compare these concepts with competing products using a variety of criteria for the dog, owner and our company stakeholder

Concept testing

Assembled a functional prototype of the cuddle toy

Cuddle toy_finalconceptBased on user feedback and the Pugh matrix, we assembled a functional prototype of the cuddle toy for concept testing. The cuddle toy is a plush toy that simulates the comfort of a companion by an audible heartbeat, dispenses a calming pheromone and has a warming component.


Paid home visits to three participants and observed their dogs as they engaged with the prototype.


Objective : To understand the cuddle toy’s effectiveness in alleviating anxiety

Key findings : The warmer deters dogs; the dogs view the product as a play mechanism rather than a mechanism for rest

Concept refinement

Shifted focus to the smart bed

concept refinementBased on our findings, we refined the concept and shifted our focus to the smart bed, which comprises of a dog bed, a speaker for an audible heartbeat and a dog calming pheromone. I assisted in engineering a housing in the dog bed for the speaker and pheromone.


Final product concept

Final product_finalimagepsd

Mobile application


Connects dog owner with dog by providing actionable insights on dog’s anxiety level and providing a remote mechanism to control the anxiety reducer

Anxiety reducer : Smart bed


Directly alleviates anxiety by dispensing a dog calming pheromone, playing a heartbeat or dog calming music.

Anxiety monitor : Collar


Measures dog’s anxiety through heart rate, vocalization (barking) and activity level

How it works

Anxiety monitor_description

The device on the anxiety reducer (collar) contains a tri axis accelerometer (to measure activity level), a pulsometer (to measure heart rate), microphone (to measure vocalization) and an RFID tag (to measure proximity to bed).

Anxiety reducer_description

The anxiety reducer (bed) has an ABS housing (shown above) in its rim which contains a mechanism to spray pheromone onto a filter pad. A fan intakes the pheromone safely through the mesh cover to the bed’s interior. The speaker plays the heartbeat and dog calming music.

Realizing the product

Assisted in analyzing the product’s cost


Financial forecast
Final recommendation – family of products


Our final recommendation to the client, Jarden was to develop a family of products that alleviate dog anxiety – all connect to the owner through a mobile application and give realtime access to dog’s anxiety levels through the anxiety monitor (the collar colored blue in the picture above). The reason for this being that dogs, like humans have different personalities. Anxiety manifestation of, and treatment for these dogs are therefore diverse.