On average, dogs don't like robots.
To keep the peace at his California home, Keith Hearn had to scold his new robotic vacuum cleaner. The trouble started when Mr. Hearn first turned on his Roomba automatic cleaner. When the device started scooting around the floor, Mr. Hearn's dog, Argos, attacked it.
Seeking help, Mr. Hearn found an online forum dedicated to the hundred-dollar Roomba buzzing with similar stories of pet assailants. Owners were offering advice. Among the most popular: Chastise the vacuum in front of the dog.
And so, with Argos looking on, Mr. Hearn shook his finger at his gadget and sternly called it "a bad Roomba." Argos appeared to be mollified. "After that, he never tried nipping at it again," says Mr. Hearn.Sympathetic owners sometimes just retire their new purchases. In other cases, the pets take matters into their own paws. Peter Haney, a university administrator in Lethbridge, Alberta, twice found his Roomba in pieces after letting it clean while his flat-coated retrievers, Macleod and Tima, had the run of the house. "No one is talking," he says.
Craig Capizzi, who runs RoombaReview.com from his Staten Island, N.Y., home, says his Yorkshire terrier, Candie, ignores his Roomba but is scared of his new Pleo, a dinosaur-like robot made by Ugobe Inc. "She's terrified of it. She bites it," he says. "That dog really believes it's another animal and, apparently, a frightening animal." He's getting rid of the Pleo, he says.
Robot manufacturers vary in their approach to making pet-friendly products."It comes up constantly," says Nancy Dussault Smith, a spokeswoman for iRobot Corp., in Bedford, Mass., which makes the Roomba. "Dogs, cats, all animals, they have their own personalities, so they all react differently to the robots."
By the way, Roomba's are NOT dog-proof....