How might we use a leash to change the future relationship between dogs and owners?
More and more pet owners want to have a deeper emotional connection with their pets. Some people even said that we have a stronger emotion bond with our pets than with other people. Dog owners have many opportunities to engage in physical exercise with their furry friends, such as walking, which enable them to have a sociable exchange. Compared to other pets, dogs are a species that especially need companionship; in this regard they are a lot like humans. This set of converted leashes is for people who have an unconditional, loving bond with their animals.
Instead of verbal communication, I see design as another way of expressing ideas.
In this project, I use leashes as a vehicle to ask questions. Each leash represents one hypothesis about what the future relationship between pets and owners will be like and to also explore some of my questions about current pet-owner relationships.
I. DOUBLE-ENDED LEASH
The Question: " Who controls whom?”
The double-ended leash shows how the power dynamics between pets and owners occurs.
During the ideation stage, I was intrigued by the moment when the human attaches the hook on the leash to their dog’s collar or harness. I interpreted this behavior as a starting point of control. The humans literally hold the power because their hands are holding that “power tool.”
I started to ask questions about this kind of seemingly common and acceptable interaction. Why do people take certain actions with regard to their pets? Will the action itself influence people’s sub-conscious understanding of power? Can we change the power dynamic between dogs and owners by changing the owners’ behavior? If people pay attention to what their dogs feel, will they think of taking the same action with regard to themselves?
II. SNIFFING LEASH
The Question: “What if you could smell what your dog smells?”
The sniffing leash creates a unique experience that helps the dog owners get to know their dogs better, especially on the “sniffing” aspect.
Every dog owner probably has had the same experience: when you are walking a dog, your dog seems interested in everything. It will sniff every single bush and every lamppost. They also watch the animals in their surroundings and want to meet and sniff other dogs they encounter during the walk. The reason for this is because sniffing and smelling is a dog’s primary mechanism for processing new information and observing the environment. In other words, a dog smelling is just like a human seeing.
In Alexandra Horowitz’s book Being a dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell, she explains the olfactory sense is extremely important for dogs while humans often overlook its role in their own lives. Simulating what your dogs do is a way to build empathy with your furry friend.
III. MARIONETTE LEASH
The Question: “What if your dog walks you?”
Even though people lead their dogs most of the time when
they are walking them, you can still feel moments when you must compromise with the dog. That is because you love
them so much that you do not to cause them to be hurt by the leash if you were to control them totally in this moment. At this moments, owners are marionettes that are played by dogs. How might we use a leash to visualize and empower this underlying relationship? The leash keeps both the appearance and usage mode of a marionette, which would not only make owners see their pets in a di erent way but would also trigger other people to think about their own pet-owner relationship.
IV. Multiple walker leash
The Question: “What if you could walk your dog with other people?”
This idea came from two main sources. The first source is the big bene t that the dog owner can get as dog walking can help the owner to make friends because walking out of doors could present them with more opportunities to meet new people and begin conversations with them. Another source is that some people want to own a dog, but they cannot. In terms of space constraints, time constraints, or a variety of other reasons, many people do not have a chance to own a dog. This does not mean that people have to deprive themselves of all the happiness that a pet can add to their life. What if a group of people could share the same dog-human interactions together by, for instance, walking a dog together.
The product has two parts—the leash and collar. Multiple
rings are attached to the collar which is made from a striking yellow fabric that catches people’s eyes and indicates that this puppy allows other people to walk it. People who do not have a dog can buy the matched leash and be ready to have a fun experience walking a dog in the company of with other people.
V. Directional leash
The Question: Directional leash
Dogs perceive the speed of a moving object to be much slower than humans perceive it to be. Dogs see the world through
a Matrix-like “bullet-time.” They ability to see di erently than humans see is a natural consequence of their evolution, of
their need to escape larger predators. Additionally, dogs using all of their senses to help them perceive the peripheral world, including sounds and smells. As a result, dogs actually know their owners better than owners know them. And it even seems that they can predict what their owners want to do next. Since humans lack the same sensory capacity as dogs, I explored how to help people have, to the extent that it was possible to do, a sensory experience similar to that of their dogs. Doing this would enable the owners to walk their dogs in a more dog- friendly manner rather than just to force the dogs to follow their routines.
The design was showed in "Coincident Times" exhibition, wchich was featured in Wanted Design Brooklyn as part of the 2017 NYCxDesign Global Design Celebration.