As you are all aware, Charlie’s life has changed pretty dramatically over the last 6 months. While we have tried to keep things as normal as possible, the addition of a baby human into our home has turned everyone’s life upside down. Despite getting the same (if not more) walks daily, Charlie is bored and sometimes a little jealous of all of the time and attention the baby gets. He loves the baby, and often wants to play with him, but a nearly 6 month old, is just not up to the task.
Another big change for Charlie is that he has started his work as a school therapy dog three days per week. On the days that he is “working”, Charlie is ultra stimulated and exhausted. Unfortunately, the flipside of his therapy work is complete BOREDOM on the days that he is home with just Kev or the baby’s nanny.
Over the last 6 months, we have tried every single puzzle toy, stuffed kong, and chew on the market….but it’s not really helping. Charlie is bored. So, imagine how excited we were when the folks over at CleverPet, makers of the only canine video game console, contacted us to see if we were interested in trying out their product! (Excitement probably doesn’t really sum up my feelings!)
They are sponsoring this post so that we could spend some time with the unit and share our experience with you!
What is CleverPet?
CleverPet is the first ever game console for dogs. Designed by cognitive scientists, the CleverPet was created in order to “keep your dog busy and out of trouble for hours each day.” In the most basic sense, the CleverPet Hub is a durable, automatic, engaging device that is programmed to provide your dog with various games and activities that adapt to skill level and leave your pup engaged throughout the day – with or without you!
How does the CleverPet Work?
The CleverPet Hub works alongside a phone application to provide your dog (or adventurous cat) with hours of entertainment as he or she works through puzzles and games.
How you ask? The CleverPet Hub has three light up sensors that, when activated, trigger the release of a treat. If this sounds too advanced for your dog, fear not, the CleverPet is designed to teach your dog how to engage starting with simply taking a treat from the dispenser and working its way through increasingly difficult puzzles. The system is responsive to how your pet is progressing through the challenges and only moves them to a more challenging task, when they have mastered the basics.
The CleverPet Hub also works with an online application that can be downloaded on the android or apple IOS market. The application has helpful videos, allows you to track your pet’s progress through the challenges, and view detailed reports of their performance. The application is especially helpful if your pet will be playing while you are away or at work!
A peek under the hood!
CleverPet Video Game Console Features
The CleverPet Hub is built securely so that you don’t have to worry about your dog getting into trouble while playing on their own.
- Stainless steel bowl – Allowing for easy cleaning because there is bound to be some drool!
- Sturdy, sensitive touchpads – Frustration free. Sensitive to soft touches but tough enough for paws and claws.
- Dog-proof lid – No short cuts to the treats, the unique domed design means your dog CANNOT break into the device to steal the food!
- Non-slip base – The base is strong and skid-proof so a curious friend can’t push it around on the floor!
Setting Up the CleverPet Hub
Setting up the CleverPet Hub is a breeze! The unit was labeled with step by step stickers and other than connecting to your wi-fi and downloading the accompanying app, no technical knowledge is required. We ran into some problems (it ended up being the wrong password for our WiFi and not a problem with the unit), but technical support was responsive and gave us some excellent troubleshooting tips.
Green light will flash until connected to WiFi
In order to fill the CleverPet with treats, simply pinch the two tabs on the top of the unit and lift up the small round door.
This will expose the orange interior cap of the treat dispenser. Open it up and fill with a handful of training treats or kibble to get started!
Introducing the CleverPet Hub to Charlie
You might be wondering what kind of dog does best with the CleverPet Hub. CleverPet suggests that your dog is food motivated and open to new experiences – size and age are just numbers!
Though Charlie can be a bit skittish when he first experiences something new, with a little encouragement, he is eager and excited to try new things, especially when treats are involved!
We decided to take the process slow, first unpackaging the unit in front of Charlie so that his curiosity was piqued. In order to make the process really positive, I randomly gave Charlie treats while I worked on setting up the unit.
Working Through the CleverPet “Challenges”
The CleverPet Hub starts at the most basic level; getting your dog used to the food door opening and a treat being present. I thought Charlie might be a little afraid, but all it took was one look into the food tray and he was hooked! He easily made his way through the first “Challenge” of retrieving food from the Hub.
The second “challenge” required that Charlie interact with the unit in order to release a treat. He simply had to touch one of the sensors, or if a portion of time had passed without interaction a treat would be randomly released. It was here that Charlie started to make the association that playing with the unit led to tasty rewards!
Currently, Charlie is working through the third challenge which requires that he touch the sensors which are illuminated while avoiding those that are not. While Charlie loves a good challenge, we have taken our time getting through this task in order to keep his frustration low. Charlie is still working on learning to notice the lights and prefers to continue to choose the sensors at random barking at the unit when he doesn’t get a treat!
As with anything new, our introduction and use of the CleverPet Hub wasn’t without some challenges and missteps (mostly on our part). Luckily, we have lots of patience and had help from the wonderful Tech Support (Did I tell you how amazingly responsive they were?!).
Charlie is normally not much of a drooler. However, when he gets amped up and there is food involved, he can get a bit slobbery. We noticed that when we used softer treats, Charlie tended to drool a bit more. Unfortunately, the same sensor technology that tells the unit that the treat has been taken from the tray, recognized his drool as a treat.
Unfortunately, this meant that unless I was wiping the unit when he left drool in it, a treat would not be replenished. We did a few different things to help with this…
As he was getting used the hub, we simply wiped it on occasion since we were already sitting there with him. When we wanted him to be more independent with the unit, we changed out the treats to kibble which is harder and lapped up better with his tongue. This dramatically reduced our issue with the sensor! Lesson Learned: Hard kibble and not overly “drool worthy” hard treats work best.
Whether his frustration was a result of a treat not being dispensed or simply a byproduct of the increasing difficulty of the task, it sometimes led to loud barking on his part. It wasn’t a big deal for him, he was fine. Whenever he had enough we simply unplugged the unit and had him take a break. The problem was that his loud barking scared the baby or worse – woke him up! Unfortunately, it just gave him fewer opportunities to play while we were home! Lesson Learned: Get the baby used to barks and play when he is awake!
Since Charlie was limited in the time he had to play while we were home, we left it set up when we were away. Turns out that even when we start playing with him before leaving, when we aren’t in the house – Charlie just sleeps on the couch. He was like a toddler, he liked to play best when we were right there with him. We didn’t really mind though because it was so FUN to watch! Lesson Learned: Have fun with your dog regardless of whether you are right next to them or snooping on your pet cam!
Why MyDogLikes CleverPet Game Console
We always get really excited to see our dogs’ brains working the way they are supposed to. So many of our pets spend way too much time indoors and lack the stimulation they require for optimum health. With the CleverPet, you can actually see your dog solving problems and feel confident that you are enriching their day to day lives.
You don’t need any special experience or expertise to get your dog acquainted with the CleverPet Hub. Before we started that was my biggest worry – I’m definitely not a dog trainer! But in reality, the CleverPet Hub is for everyone. Though Harley is not food motivated, he is a smart and creative problem solver (who does like to eat and is much more patient than his brother) and I think he would do well with it too.
We were also very impressed with how sturdy the unit was. Even when Charlie got worked up and tried to gnaw, bark and paw at it, the unit kept functioning perfectly and there wasn’t a scratch on it! We only had one minor fix (a food jam before changing our treats to kibble) but found troubleshooting with tech support to be AMAZING.
Even though Charlie has only had limited time thus far to work with the CleverPet Hub, he has loved it and gets excited to play whenever it’s turned on. We look forward to working more with Charlie and advancing through the activities!
If you have a dog that is inquisitive and likes to get treats, the CleverPet Hub would be an amazing addition to your home! Still not sure? They offer a 60-day engagement guarantee to make sure that the unit is right for your dog!
Want to try a CleverPet for Yourself?