Introducing Your Dog to the PupPod Rocker
Introducing Your Dog to the PupPod Rocker
Who’s a good pet parent? You are! You’ve purchased the most advanced dog game ever created and your pup is going to love it. Well, just as soon as they learn the connection between the toy and feeder. Unfortunately, you can’t explain to them that touching the Rocker means rewards come from the feeder. They have to experience it to make the connection. But you can help them make the leap by using some of the suggestions in this article.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “You can only make one first impression.” This applies to introducing a new object to your dog, too. If your dog’s first interaction with the PupPod Rocker delivers a yummy reward, they are very likely to quickly make the toy + feeder connection.
Before you introduce the game to your dog, we recommend setting it up on a counter or table to make sure everything is working correctly. Start the game and touch the toy to verify that rewards are dispensing. While the game is still running, place the toy on the floor and put a high value treat under the bottom edge of the toy. This video shows an example.
When you move the toy to the floor, you will trigger a dispense, but that’s okay. Once your dog eats the free reward, they will most likely nudge the toy to get the high value reward you place under the bottom edge. When they do this, they will trigger the next reward themselves.
At this point, you may be done. Many dogs will not have fully made the connection yet, but will go back to the toy to experiment some more.
Lure ‘Em In
If the game isn’t ready to go as soon as you put it on the floor, you run the risk of your pup touching the toy but not receiving rewards. If this happens, they have less of an incentive to touch the toy again. Or you might have a dog who doesn’t naturally touch or nose things. However, all is not lost! You can encourage them to experiment with the toy using lures.
The best lure is a high value treat under the bottom edge of the Rocker or under the curvature of the Rocker. Remember that if you move the Rocker, a reward will dispense. But if you can sneak a high value treat up against the bottom edge of the Rocker, that may work without actually moving the Rocker. Some dogs can get the reward from the bottom edge of the toy without moving the Rocker. If that’s the case, you’ll want to place the lure under the toy. This video gives you a step-by-step process.
Another lure to try is a dab of yummy-smelling peanut butter, wet dog food, or even a drop of vanilla extract on the Rocker. When your dog licks the lure, it will cause the toy to move and dispense a reward. To make movement more likely, experiment with placing the lure in different places on the Rocker. You can also put the toy on an uneven surface like the edge of a rug or another object. The goal is just to make the toy a little more wobbly so that licking the lure causes some movement.
Location, Location, Location
When deciding on a location for the Feeder, think about your dog’s personality. If your dog respects boundaries, you can put the Feeder right on the floor. If placing it on the floor is too distracting for your pup, you might want to put it on an end table, a counter, or a high shelf. You can even hang the Feeder on a wall using the hanging bracket built into the back of the feeder.
Once the Feeder is in place, try putting the Rocker a foot or two away. In the beginning, we want it to be very obvious to your dog that they got rewarded because they touched the toy. If your dog accidentally kicks the Rocker with their back legs while eating their rewards, they probably won’t make that connection. If this happens, move the toy a few feet farther away.
Time It Right
If your dog isn’t particularly food motivated or just doesn’t seem interested in the rewards, experiment with the toy at different times of the day. Dogs are often hungry and active first thing in the morning before their breakfast. Or wait about an hour after their normal breakfast time so that those rewards seem more appetizing.
Ignore Your Pup
Yes, we know. This will be hard. After all, your pup is super adorable, especially when they’re learning something new. But ignoring your dog can actually encourage experimentation.
If you’re giving your dog a lot of attention (e.g. eye contact and speaking to them) while they’re playing the game, they’ll be trying to figure out what you want them to do. They’ll likely try every trick they know to try and please you. But if you ignore your dog, they are more likely to explore the toy. Ideally, they will nose or touch the toy, which will trigger a reward. When they succeed, offer lots of praise but then quickly turn your attention elsewhere.
The one notable exception is if your dog knows the “touch” command. If you can point to an object, say “touch,” and your dog will touch the object, then give that a try.
Tips for Timid & Noise Sensitive Dogs
A number of different sounds are available to encourage interaction. However, if you find that the sounds from the toy make your dog nervous, try starting with the treat bag sounds, which are low frequency and less startling. If even that’s too much, you can try “lights only,” which doesn’t play a sound at all.
Squirrel! Dealing with Distractions
If your dog is easily distracted, try to remove as many distractions as possible. This can include other people (even family members), animals, toys, or that sneaky squirrel at the front window. A quiet, “boring” environment will keep your dog focused on exploring the toy and working through the learning process.
Don’t Give Up!
Every dog is different. Some make the connection right away while others might need five to ten play sessions for it to click. It just depends on the dog and any distractions in your environment. Play for five or ten minutes and if your dog doesn’t seem interested, take a break and try again later. As long as you and your pup are having fun, that’s what matters. Be patient and don’t give up.
Give Us Your Thoughts
If any of these suggestions helped, share your story in the comments below so other pet parents can learn from your experience. And if you tried a technique we didn’t describe above, please share that, too, so we can update these tips.