Imagine someone plopped a strange object in front of you that you’d never seen before. What would you do? Some people might immediately pick it up and try to figure out what it was, while others might sit back and wait for instruction.
That’s because we’re all individuals and learn in different ways. And our dogs are exactly the same. While some dogs immediately “get” how the PupPod/Pet Tutor combo works, others need a little more encouragement and help.
If your dog doesn’t interact with the PupPod right away, don’t worry. We just have to make the connection that toy = treat and then it’s off to the races!
Here are a few tips to get you started on your way to PupPod success:
1. Start early.
Try playing PupPod before breakfast. Many dogs are more motivated in the mornings when they’re rested and hungry.
2. Use high value treats.
Make it especially exciting by using treats your dog goes bonkers for. We’ve personally found that most dogs are crazy about Zuke’s Minis.
3. Reduce distractions.
If there are other dogs, activities, or amazing smells nearby, your pup may find them more interesting at first, until they understand how super awesome the game is. Start by playing PupPod in a quiet, calm room. Stay away from windows if there are lots of distractions outside.
4. Start at Level 1.
Your dog’s first experience with the PupPod should be easy, fun and instantly rewarding. So set the PupPod to Level 1 with a 10-second time interval. Make sure everything is working and the Pet Tutor is connected before you put the toy down. It’s important they are rewarded the first time they interact with the toy so that they’ll have an incentive to try again.
5. Set up the Pet Tutor.
First, make sure the Pet Tutor is set up so the treats come out of the shoot side rather than the bowl side. (So much more exciting!) If possible, place it on a light-colored, hard floor. This makes the reward much easier to see than a plush floor with a complex or dark pattern.
If your dog tries to knock over the Pet Tutor when it’s on the floor, raise the Pet Tutor high enough so they don’t focus exclusively on it. Help them hear the “ping” noise when the treat falls by putting a piece of cardboard or a baking sheet under the Pet Tutor.
6. Place the PupPod and Pet Tutor near each other.
To make the toy=treat connection, your dog initially needs to see the reward come from the Pet Tutor when they interact with the toy. Place the Pet Tutor close enough to the toy so they see or hear a treat come out, but not so close they could accidentally touch the toy again with their tail or back legs and inadvertently trigger another treat.
7. Pump up the volume.
Because the game uses sounds to indicate success (much like a clicker), make sure the Pet Tutor volume is loud enough to hear. For dogs with normal hearing, the medium volume is fine. For dogs that are hard of hearing, try the loud volume.
8. Choose a sound they love.
PupPod offers a variety of cue sounds, so try to find one that he loves and reacts positively to. Just tap on the “Treat Sound” field on your phone before pressing “Start.” You can select different sounds manually, or choose “Cycle Sounds” to let your dog pick the sound they like. Once your dog starts to interact with the toy, the sound choice they like will be set.
9. Use the “touch” cue.
If your dog understands how to “touch” objects with their nose, use this cue to encourage him to interact with the toy.
10. Other ways to encourage interaction
Try putting a dab of peanut butter or a drop of vanilla extract on the toy under the two motion sensors. (The motion sensors are located to the left and right of the PupPod logo, and look like eyes.) These new smells should encourage sniffing and further investigation.
You can also place a high value treat in front of the motion sensors. Slide it low and from the side so your hand doesn’t inadvertently trigger a reward. When your dog comes in for the treat, their head should trip the sensor, triggering the Pet Tutor to provide another treat!
11. Ignore your dog.
Yes, we know this is difficult. After all, your dog is super cute! But by watching your dog too closely, he may completely ignore the toy because he’s trying to figure out what you want him to do. Instead, pretend to watch TV, read a book or talk with another person. This removes the pressure on your dog and allows him to investigate the toy on his own.
12. Have patience.
This is the most important tip we can offer. Remember, the PupPod toy is a brand new thing your dog has never encountered before. So it may take several attempts before they finally have that “Eureka!” moment. Try for 10-15 minutes and if they don’t explore the toy, remove it from their reach, turn off the game and try again in a couple hours or the next day.