Robin Bennett discusses mental stimulation for dogs

Technology Product to Stimulate Puppy Minds

Robin Bennett (RB) talks with Pet Lover Geek (PLG) about technology products to stimulate puppy minds.

Listen to full interview. (Interview starts at 17 min into the podcast)

PLG: We’ve invited back Robin Bennett. She is one of the Dog Gurus. She’s a certified professional dog trainer and renowned dog behavior expert. We’re excited to have her once again on Pet Lover Geek. Welcome to the show Robin.

RB: Thanks so much. I’m so happy to be back and this is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, so I’m happy to talk about it too.

PLG: Stuff that stimulates the puppy’s mind or the older dog’s mind and entertain them and tires them out...for me that’s always top of my list because I have two very energetic dogs in my house, so I’m really excited to talk to you.

So let’s start off talking about ... some really cool new tech toys that are out there right now that are really great for stimulating our dogs.

RB: Well there are a bunch of them that are out and more coming on  the market it seems all the time. One of the ones that I’ve been playing around with my own dog, whose is a 1 year old lab so he’s got lots and lots of energy, is a combination toy actually -- the PupPod and the Pet Tutor. They're both technology toys that you can use independently but they have actually partnered together so those two toys will work together. It’s a gaming device. It’s basically like xBox for dogs. That’s what I call it.

It’s a gaming device that gets smarter as your dog plays. So it actually challenges your dog and once they reach a certain level you can increase the difficulty so your dog is never going to get bored with this toy...and that’s with the PupPod. And by pairing it with the Pet Tutor, the Pet Tutor can actually reward your dog, so you don’t have to be there right next to your dog the whole time, which I love because I tend to put this game on the floor when I’m trying to make dinner or I’m trying to take a shower or you know I work from home so sometimes I just need to work at home and not have my dog coming and asking me to play with him. So I’ll use the toys at that time.

They are really, really cool and they're all based on teaching your dog to touch and interact with the toy. Once he does that, then he has to actually touch it after it makes a certain sound. That’s the level my dog's on. But then even more amazing is that once he learns to touch it when it makes a certain sound, you can actually teach him sound discrimination. So he learns “touch it” on this sound and if you touch it when you hear different sounds, you don’t get anything. So the dog actually really has to concentrate to listen to what the toy is doing and then know when to go up and interact with it. And obviously when he’s right, he gets a treat from the Pet Tutor. So it’s really, really a cool combination toy.

PLG: And this is the one that’s basically built with a KONG right? It’s got the technology inside of a big KONG right?

RB: Exactly. The PupPod is the shape and look and feel of the KONG Wobbler -- they’ve actually partnered with that particular brand. The KONG is typically a hollow toy that you can stuff with food, [but] this is not hollow at all. All the gaming technology is inside. And a lot of times people say, “Oh that’s like a huge giant KONG and my dog is going to pick it up and throw it around” --cause that’s what my dog does with his KONG toy, but Ranger has never tried to pick it up at all. He learned right has a motion sensor to begin with so...the lowest level is your dog just goes near it and it can sense that the dog is near and gets rewarded with a treat. Once that level is accomplished, you move up to the next level, which is now an actual sensor that the dog touches it, so then the dog touches it and a treat come comes out of the Pet Tutor. So the dog is never getting the food out of the toy and I think they figure that out really quick. It’s not something they are going to pick up and throw around because that’s not how the game works. And they are all about figuring out the game.

PLG: And I love that it’s separate from the two. Because there’s this delayed reaction...there’s a layer there. There are a lot of toys out there where they move it and they get a treat. And then they learn that it’s about beating up the toy to get the treat out. But I love the fact that they have to pay attention to the ... Pet Tutor. “Is that what I was supposed to do?” I love that there’s separation there.

RB: And the other really cool thing husband was laughing the other day because I actually separated them even farther apart cause I’m currently in a motorhome. So I put one toy at the front end and the [dispenser] at the back end so not only did he play the game, but he was getting a little bit of exercise. When he would get rewarded, he had to go back to the Pet Tutor to get the treat and return back to the PupPod to interact with it. So there was a little be of exercise going on their too. That was helpful as well.

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