A new product called Tidy Dog aims to make the task of puppy training a little easier, by automatically giving your dog a treat each time it puts one of its toys back in the bin. This should, in theory, lead to the owner of the pet having to spend less time manually putting away their dog's toys themselves.
Tidy Dog uses sensors that detect the weight of a toy when the dog puts it away, and automatically dispenses a treat as the reward. The designers claim that this will generate a conditioned response that will, over time, cause the dog to put away the toys on its own. The creators promise that it can detect even the lightest dog toys, which is key for people who own small animals. Essentially, this is doing the same job as a human giving the dog a treat for doing a good job, but it's handling it automatically.
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One of the first concerns addressed by the Tidy Dog team is the fact that a smart dog would be able to trick the system by simply placing its own weight inside of the bin to get it to dispense the treats. The creators promise that the load cells can detect small vibrations that happen when a dog is pressing down on the bin, and it will not dispense a treat until it is completely stabilized. Additionally, when a toy is removed, the bin will not dispense a treat for 30 seconds, preventing the crafty dog from simply removing and placing a toy back in the back in quick succession to get extra treats.
The device is powered by four AA batteries, and it's designed in such a way that it can be left on all the time for the dog to be able to put away its toys and receive treats on its own, or it can be turned on by the owner at certain times for controlled clean-up sessions. Depending on how a particular dog adjusts to using the toy bin, this is a smart design choice, as it allows the owner to work with their dog in a way that makes sense for their needs.
The bin is designed to work with dogs of varying sizes, from large to small. Its short height is the key dimension, allowing smaller dogs to reach in and grab their toys and place them back in the bin.
Tidy Dog is seeking funding for its toy bin on Kickstarter. As of this writing it is about halfway to its US$20,000 goal. Backers who want to receive a Tidy Dog of their own will need to make a minimum pledge of $69 while the early special lasts. After that, the required pledge jumps to $99. The devices are expected to ship to backers in November of this year, when and if they reach production.
The pitch video below provides more information on Tidy Dog while showing it in action.