Review: I turned to tech to stop my dogs barking at the neighbours

There’s a window in my stairway that keeps my two dogs entertained for hours. They sit on the landing while I’m hard at work in my office and watch the world go by.

But every now and again something might happen they feel they need to tell me about. It might be the arrival of the postman, or one of my neighbours getting a delivery or, perish the thought, a cat might nonchalantly stroll by.

Obviously, they are always keen to report these events by barking their heads off. And if I’m in the middle of a phone call or a Zoom meeting that’s really not ideal.

I always like to turn to technology to solve life’s little problems, and I was convinced there would be some sort of home automation gadget that would enable me to shut the dogs up at the touch of a button or the call of an “OK Google” command. And, thanks to the help of my friends at SwitchBot I found just the tool for the job.

Picture the scene… I’m in the middle of a phone call, Albert the neighbour’s cat is sniffing at my privet hedge. My dogs Rupert and Honey are apoplectic with rage and the noise of two hysterical dogs is unbearable.

However I can now press a button on my desk and within seconds the curtains on my stairway window close. The dogs let out one more grunt of frustration and then settle back down to blissful silence.

How did I achieve this? Well the marvelous thing about SwitchBot is there’s usually some sort of device for any sort of home automation. It’s the company that created a little “Bot” that can remotely flick a switch, or press a button. And while I’m fond of those little devices, I’ve also grown to love their curtain-opening gadgets.

I tested a curtain rail SwitchBot earlier in the year and it was brilliant. It still is, six months on. It never lets me down and apart from the occasional recalibration, it’s been such a great addition to my digital bedroom.

So when SwitchBot launched a new version of its curtain rod device, I spied an opportunity to start a project that might finally bring harmony to my landing.

The Curtain Rod 2 sports a new design which improves the way it glides over a curtain rod. With two arms instead of the original’s single clamp, it’s designed to run more smoothly and to travel more effectively over bumps in the curtain rod.

Before I could fit the devices, I had to upgrade from a blind to a curtain setup. Buying a curtain rod is a doddle. A trip to B&M Bargains and £20 later I was ready to go. Buying curtains to fit the short, wide window was a nightmare. We found them on Amazon in the end, but only after a very long search.

Anyway, I digress. With my new curtains in place, the next job of installing the Curtain Rod 2 devices was an absolute doddle. Detach one side arm of the bot, hook it over the rod, clip the arm back on, power it up, connect it to the app, and you’re away. Repeat this for the second bot, spend a few minutes in the app calibrating them and you have automatic curtains within minutes.

These bots have hefty batteries lying within, which last ages and can be charged via USB-C, or through a solar panel, which you can buy separately.

And to control them, you can either use your smartphone, buy an inexpensive remote control from Switchbot, or link it to a hub and control it through your smart speaker.

I found the best way for me to open and close the curtains is with SwitchBot’s natty little remote control, which can be configured through the app.

So now, as soon as the postman appears on my driveway, I can just tap the button on the remote, the curtains glide to a close, and the barking quickly subsides.

I can even, if I want to get really clever, link it up to a SwitchBot thermometer and set it to close the curtains as soon as the temperature in my house reaches, say 24C. But for now, just being able to put the dogs off their barking fit is absolutely wonderful.

There’s such a dizzying array of things you can do with SwitchBot devices, but I never imagined preventing a barking fit and silencing my two dogs would be one of them. But it really does work a charm.

I can’t wait for the loudest day of my month, the day the window cleaner comes. He’ll get the shock of his life when the curtains close all by themselves. But at least it’ll shut the dogs up.

Don’t miss this deal

If you’d like to kit your house out with some SwitchBot tech, the company is offering some big discounts in time for Prime Day in July 2022.

From 7th July to 11th July there will be 30% off all SwitchBot combos and over the Prime Day weekend, July 12th and 13th, there will be between 30% and 50% off across the range.

SwitchBot will also accept a discount code for Reach PLC readers which gives an extra 5% off on the SwitchBot store and the Amazon store. Use 3522PDSB between July 7th and July 13th.

Anyone shopping with SwithBot during the Prime Day weekend will also be entered into a draw to win one of 50 iPhone 14s.

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