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(PupPod Photo)

Pet owners are spending more and more on their furry friends. But will they pay for high-tech tools that supposedly make their dogs smarter?

That’s the premise of PupPod, a Seattle startup that today announced a $772,000 seed investment round led by Dr. Roger Mugford, a veteran animal psychologist and founder of The Company of Animals.

Born out of a Startup Weekend event more than four years ago, PupPod develops “smart dog toys” based on positive reinforcement that help promote mental stimulation. Its PupPod Wobbler game, for example, uses lights, sound, and timing to reward dogs with food if they “play” the puzzle correctly. The game gets harder as the dog progresses through the challenges. Owners can use a smartphone app to set criteria for earning rewards.

PupPod, founded by Erick Eidus and Kandarp Jani, is working on another product that uses connected home technology that lets pet owners play with their dog remotely.

“As I learned about PupPod’s technology platform and vision, it became clear to me that software and data are going to substantially disrupt the pet industry and these trends align perfectly with the expectations of millennial pet parents,” Dr. Mugford said in a statement. “PupPod has assembled a remarkable team capable of linking pets and technology and I wanted to be involved.”

Investment in pet tech startups has increased over the past several years, reaching $579 million last year, according to PitchBook. Companies are aiming to tap into  the growing $100 billion global pet care industry.

Seattle company Rover — also conceived at a Startup Weekend event — is one of the top dogs, having raised $310 million for its pet sitting marketplace. Rover rival Wag raised a $300 million round last year from SoftBank.

Another Seattle startup, Tomofun, has seen success with its product Furbo, a popular AI-powered dog camera and feeding device similar to what PupPod has developed.

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