Operant Conditioning and Technology
Dogs learn through trial and error. When they take an action that leads to a positive outcome, they want to repeat the action. This is operant conditioning. If a dog pushes over a garbage can and finds some yummy food scraps, they'll probably want to try it again. That same learning process can be used to encourage more desirable outcomes.
Operant conditioning was popularized in the clicker training method by training pioneers like Karen Pryor. When a dog takes a desired action (e.g. sitting), the trainer will offer a reward (e.g. a small treat) and press a handheld device that makes a "click" sound. The click sound is used to "mark" the desired behavior and over time the dog associates the marker with doing something that earns a reward. This positive training method encourages a dog to determine the desired behavior so they can earn another reward.
PupPod leverages these principles, but uses technology to improve operant conditioning. When a dog takes a correct action with a PupPod toy, a treat is dispensed and a tone is played. The tone coming from the dispenser "marks" the moment when a dog takes the correct action, serving the same purpose as the "click" sound in clicker training.
Timing matters: A number of steps need to happen quickly, as supported by Dr. Sophia Yin's research. When a dog takes a desired behavior, the behavior needs to be evaluated, the marking sound needs to be made, and a rewards needs to be offer. PupPod can cover these steps in about half a second and eliminate human error.
Performance matters: PupPod uses software models to make sure a dog is challenged at the correct level based on their actual performance.
Mood matters: With PupPod, dogs can learn at their own pace when they are motivated.
There are many behaviors that PupPod is not yet designed to teach, but PupPod is a platform that we plan to grow over time. Let us know what behaviors you'd like to see addressed in future PupPod games. We'd love to hear your input.