Our goal is to help build your dog’s confidence around the Hub. Confidence training can be rewarding, and even fun for your dog. Learning to use the Hub can even help boost your dog’s confidence in getting used to other new experiences, beyond the scope of the Hub. With the help of our chief dog trainer, we’ve created a guide to help you and your pup get the most out of your CleverPet Hub!
Steps for Success
Let your dog see the device while it is turned off and not making noise.
Fill the Hub with tasty treats. Is your dog already exploring and curious about device? Great! Move on to creating a treat trail with the Hub plugged in.
If not, to boost confidence and encourage engagement, attempt to use the Hub as treat bowl. Lift the dome up using the rear latches to rotate the tray out, and then unplug the Hub. Lower the dome until it clicks back into place, but don't plug the Hub back in. Place a few treats in the food dish of the opened tray, so your pup can get used to eating from the Hub without any of the noises associated with a plugged-in Hub.
This can help with confidence building because your pup is exploring, finding, and receiving rewards all by themselves, and developing a positive association with the Hub. Make sure that your dog has consistent success by seeing if they explore the Hub with treats in the bowl several times. If they don’t approach the Hub within an hour or so, move on to creating a treat trail while leaving the Hub unplugged.
Create a treat trail.
First you’ll need to find your dog’s “happy distance” from Hub. That is, how far away from the Hub your dog needs to be in order to feel comfortable again. For instance, if your dog is motivated to eat treats within 5 feet of the Hub, but not within 1 foot of the Hub, start the trail at the 5 foot mark, and lead the way with treats that are placed 1 foot apart. If your dog is comfortable closer to the Hub, start the trail a bit closer, with less of a gap between each treat.
Make sure to use high value treats on the path to the Hub, and an even higher value treat once they get to the Hub (jackpot!). We want your dog to see following the trail as fun and successful, and being at Hub as rewarding and awesome!
Repeat these steps until you are seeing your dog’s comfort level change and their curiosity and interest in exploring the Hub increase. You can always go back to Step 1, using the powered-off Hub as a food dish, and move on to plugging the Hub in later.
How long can your dog do this?
If your dog is making little progress in showing more comfort and curiosity, about 15 minutes is good enough for a stressed out dog. Like kids in classroom or adults at work, after enough time, your brain gets tired, and you need a break.
If your dog is making progress, let them continue to explore the Hub for as long as they would like, since the Hub is not creating stress!
Still not working? Use tricks and obedience commands to create comfort around the Hub.
If your dog is still uncomfortable around the Hub, choose a trick your dog is very familiar with — for example, “watch me” or “sit” — while your dog is near the Hub. Reward them with treats for performing the tricks! Your dog will keep getting food rewards and be inadvertently conditioned be near the Hub, as they’ll be focused on something else with which they’re familiar and comfortable.
Using marker and reward
Use auditory cues to reinforce your dog’s obedience near the Hub. You can use positive phrases — for example, “yes” or “good boy” — that your dog is familiar with, a soothing tone of voice, or a clicker, if your dog has been clicker trained.
Find your dog’s comfort zone around the Hub, and ask them to perform tricks at a comfortable distance from the Hub. Use the auditory cues to “mark”, or signal to your dog that you’re asking them to perform a trick for a reward. Then, when your dog successfully performs the trick, give them a food reward.
If you’re making progress in helping your dog gain confidence around the Hub, change the location at which they get a reward. Get closer and closer to the Hub each time your dog succeeds in performing a familiar trick, until your dog is able to do so right by the Hub. Now, try giving your dog the reward right from the Hub’s food dish!
How You Can Help
Motivate your dog.
You can help your dog to overcome an existing fearful association by providing positive reinforcement. In the field of animal training, this is called "counter conditioning”.The most important thing is the quality of the motivator. For it to work best, your dog has to care about the food reward.
Because your dog is hungriest before a meal, the best time to work on getting comfortable with the Hub is at mealtime. Think of when you go to a restaurant. You may be excited to get dessert before you have your meal, but afterwards end up skipping dessert because you’re too full. Likewise, your dog will not be as excited to engage with the Hub and get their favorite high-value treats if they’ve just eaten a meal. Skipping a meal is not abnormal for dogs, but check with your vet to see what's right for your pup.
Make your dog feel comfortable.
Use your dog’s routine to your advantage. Fitting sessions with the Hub into the habits and routine your dog is already used to will help get them comfortable. For example, try placing the Hub in the same place that your dog is used to eating in and fill the Hub with food at the times that your dog is used to getting meals. The more familiar the circumstances in which they are introduced to the Hub, the easier it will be for them to feel comfortable using it!
Encourage the behaviors you want to see.
We can accidentally reward behaviors that we don’t want our dogs to do, and if done too much, can accidentally condition the wrong things. For example, you may condition your dog to be more afraid or hesitant without realizing it. If your dog backs away and shows fear, and then you pet them and talk in sweet tones, you may condition them to show more of this behavior. You can avoid doing this by only rewarding your dog’s braver motions, those that indicate your dog is becoming more curious and comfortable around the Hub.
Keep in mind that dogs are sensitive to human behaviors.
It’s important to keep in mind that our attitudes and behaviors can influence our dog, probably more than many of us realize. If you show frustration or discouragement, your dog might respond in kind. If you get stressed out, you may be stressing your dog out too, which doesn’t create a good environment for learning.
If food is not working, some dogs may respond more to social rewards, or perhaps their favorite toy! Use these other positive rewards to get your dog to come closer to the Hub.
Remember that the process of helping your dog become acquainted with the Hub will take time and effort. You may make some mistakes, and that’s okay.
Remember that every dog is an individual.
Some dogs may become Hub experts within a few days, while others may still be getting used to the Hub a month from now. Even if it does take your dog a while, keep in mind that they’re still getting mental engagement and exercise by learning to interact with the Hub. And most importantly, accept your dog for who they are — each dog is unique and awesome for their own reason!