Pet Lover Geek

Pet Tech: Top 4 Gifts This Holiday Season

December 08, 2020 Lorien Clemens Season 5 Episode 12
Pet Lover Geek
Pet Tech: Top 4 Gifts This Holiday Season
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The biggest gift-giving holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah are just right around the corner, and it only makes sense that as our lives become more connected with technology, so do the lives of our pets. More than half of pet parents say that they have special tech just for their pets; and tech pet products range from smart toys, feeders, dog houses, litterbox, ID tags, you name it.

Today, we're going to explore four products that are at the top of our wish list this holiday season with Amy Tokic, Editor at PetGuide.com. Then we chat with our good friend Erick Eidus, the CEO of PupPod, an interactive game for your dog. They've got a brand new version that Erick walks us through.

Check out the products discussed on today's show:

Wickedbone
A bone-shaped interactive gaming device that performs like a truly smart, fun and excitingly wicked companion of your dog

Whistle
Meet the Whistle GO family, the ultimate health and location trackers for pets.

Basepaws
The first and only at-home DNA test for cats. A must-have item for any cat lover!

PupPod
PupPod, the most interactive dog game ever created, gives your dog the mental stimulation he craves.

Chewy - SureFeed Microchip Feeder
Purchase the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect on Chewy.com!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Lorien Clemens  0:02  

Happy holidays, pet lovers! The biggest gift giving holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah are just right around the corner. So today on Pet Lover Geek, we're gonna take a look at some of the hottest tech products on the market for pet parents. You know, we love getting geeky and techie on Pet Lover Geek and one of our favorite people on the planet, Amy Tokic from PetGuide, is here with us today to do just that. 

Now it only makes sense that as our lives become more connected with technology, so do our pets'. Now more than half of pet parents say that they have special tech just for their pets; and tech pet products range from smart toys, feeders, dog houses, litterbox, ID tags, you name it. Today, we're going to explore four products that are at the top of our wish list this holiday season. Amy will walk us through what makes these products unique and why your fur kids will absolutely love them. 

And -- ooh, special thing. -- at the very end of the show, we've got an update from our good friend Erick Eidus. He's the CEO of PupPod, it's a product that we've talked about here on the show before -- an interactive game for your pup. They've got a brand new version that we're super excited about. But you got to wait for that one.

So we're gonna be right back and we'll talk about our first hot tech product, the WickedBone. Sit tight.


Music  1:23  

(Music)


Lorien Clemens  1:37  

I am so excited to have Amy Tokic back on Pet Lover Geek today. Amy is the Editor of PetGuide, and it's a great online resource with just all kinds of information that you would need to ensure that your pet has a long, healthy, happy and let's face it funny, quirky life because that's what Amy is and she brings that to what she does at PetGuide.com. 

Now Amy is a lifelong animal lover and a pet parent to two dogs, Oscar and Zedd. And Amy is always staying up to date with the latest pet products and she writes about her own adventures of pet ownership in addition to pet products and news and health related issues that she could share with other pet lovers like us. And she is one of the most geeky, techie, wonderful people I know. So I'm really excited to have her on Pet Lover Geek, it's great to have you back.


Amy Tokic  2:25  

Oh, thanks for having me. I love being on this show.


Lorien Clemens  2:28  

Yeah, well, I'm looking forward to having some fun today. Before we dive into some of the really awesome things that are on the market that you're going to talk about, I would love it if you could just kind of talk a little bit about what's happening in the industry in terms of tech and how, you know, you and I talked about this every time we see each other at all the different shows, which by the way, I miss seeing your face in person, because of COVID. Such a drag. But anyway, you know, every time we go to these shows, we say wow, there's so much more tech than there was last time and it just keeps compounding. So I'd like you to talk a little bit about, you know, just the tech industry in the pet space and how you see it benefiting the lives of pet parents and their pets?


Amy Tokic  3:09  

Well, it really is about strengthening the bond between the human and the animal. It's about being connected to your pet no matter where you go, making their life even more complete, even if you can't be in the room. Like that's what's great about pet tech. And that's what I love about it. Like we all have to go to work, and we're at the office for eight hours a day and what's our pet doing? We want to keep them entertained. We want to keep connected to them, and that's really what pet tech does for us and our pets. It's really about strengthening that bond, no matter where you are.


Lorien Clemens  3:47  

Yeah, it totally is. And I know I think too, like, because kinda like tech in my own life -- it also can help make things easier. It can take away some stressors that I have by doing things basically for me, like reminders and things like that. And I'm seeing more and more of that emerging too. And that's super helpful. You know, one of the things that we strive for here at PetHub is to let's simplify things by using technology. So that your pet's life is is as easy quote unquote, as as a human's life can be because of technology. 

Okay, so let's jump on into the fun at hand today, which is getting geeky about cool products that are out there right in time for Christmas and other gift giving opportunities. So when we asked you to join us on this episode, you sent us four really cool products that are out there on the market right now. The SureFeed Micro -- excuse me -- SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder, Whistle, Basepaws and WickedBone. And I think we've talked about several of those things already on the show, but I'd like to just jump on in and let's talk first about the one that I don't know anything about, which is a WickedBone. And so I want to learn about that one first. 


Amy Tokic  5:00  

Well, WickedBone started out as a Kickstarter, and you know how much I love Kickstarter. 


Lorien Clemens  5:04  

Oh yeah.


Amy Tokic  5:05  

So this kind of holds a little place in my heart. It's a great way to give your dog, like, stimulating and exciting exercise. And if you're a gamer, you're going to love this toy, because it allows you to operate from your cell phone and let you play with your pet. So you -- basically it has a joystick on the app, and it lets you control this toy that bounces and moves around because it has tires on it. It's shaped as a bone has two tires on the end, and it zooms around and you're controlling it with your joystick, basically.


Lorien Clemens  5:41  

Oh, wow. That's great. Is it only one of those things that were works like in the room with your pet? Or can you do it remotely?


Amy Tokic  5:48  

you can do it remotely, you can do it from wherever you are. If you're at work and you want a break, play with your dog, just go on your cell phone and you activate it.


Lorien Clemens  6:00  

Awesome. And now, so like I could use it with whatever my pet cam is that I'm using so I could watch what they're doing or whatever. It doesn't it doesn't have a camera on it, right?


Amy Tokic  6:10  

No, it doesn't have a camera on it.


Lorien Clemens  6:12  

Yeah, right. But I love the idea of that I can remotely, you know, drive my dog crazy, which, you know, and I'm -- I don't know if you know this actually, this is kind of like, you know, non sequitur, but I'm getting a puppy.


Amy Tokic  6:25  

Oh!


Lorien Clemens  6:26  

I know, right? I'm so excited. 


Amy Tokic  6:29  

I'm so excited for you. 


Lorien Clemens  6:31  

I'm, like, beyond. And it's gonna be a Boston Terrier and it should be in a few weeks. So he or she -- we don't yet know -- will be coming home. Because I haven't actually chosen the dog yet, but I have the litter that I'm going to be working with. Anyway, I'm so excited. So I'm like, ooh, I love like the idea of like bringing in these fun new toys. So I basically let my dog know immediately that he's going to be tortured with tech. 

And I think it's cool that you can interact with your pet. But I think I understand from what I read about it, it also has like an autoplay mode. So like you don't have to be engaging. You can actually just like set it up and let it go?


Amy Tokic  7:10  

That's right. If you don't have the time to play, it has -- it's automatic and intelligent. It has nine, I guess, preset play options. So depending on what kind of dog you have, if you have a reactive dog, if you have a very active dog, a laid back dog, it knows by how your dog plays, and will set itself up to engage depending on the type of personality your dog has.


Lorien Clemens  7:40  

Wow. So it's got some machine learning going on, which is like really hot -- that AI thing that everybody talks about is actually this toy. Oh, that's really fun. 


Amy Tokic  7:48  

It's super cool. 


Lorien Clemens  7:49  

That is cool. Okay, um, that's a good one to start with. By the way, do you know price point on that?


Amy Tokic  7:55  

Um, yeah, I think it's, it usually runs about $80. But it's on sale right now for $63. (Editor's note: This was recorded during Black Friday sales, pricing for the product could be different at the time of listening).


Lorien Clemens  8:03  

Oh, wow. And where can people get it?


Amy Tokic  8:05  

If they go to Cheerble. And that's cheerble.com. And just look under the products for WickedBone because they have a lot of AI products. So yeah, just go to their website, they have a store, put in your basket and you're good to go.


Lorien Clemens  8:24  

Okay, that's awesome. Okay, just totally check that out. Okay, before we move on, though, to the next product on the list, there's a ton of different toys out there -- the interactive toys. Why did this one make your list?


Amy Tokic  8:35  

I love how it -- I love how it has like the joystick that you can play with. I, too, enjoy watching my dogs go a little bit crazy. And this really appeals to me just the movement of it all. You can play with it inside and outside. And this is one of the smarter toys I've come across. And it's a really good price point for what it offers.


Lorien Clemens  8:59  

Awesome. Cool. Yeah, I'm excited. I can't wait check it out, actually. 

Alright, next on the list is one that I think frankly a lot of people are fairly familiar with. It's certainly, I guess the biggest dog on the field, which is Whistle. A lot of people have heard about the GPS collar attachments. Whistle is one of the forefront, for runners of that. That's not the right word. They're one of the big dogs with GPS color attachments. But they've they've taken it to the next level for sure. And it's now wearable tech that can give personalized insights into your pets. 

So it hooks onto the pets collar, tracks health, location, fitness. I would like if you could help us break down those things because, you know, I hear like, oh, this can tell me what's going on with my pet's health. Tell me how it tracks that. Tell me how that works.


Amy Tokic  9:48  

Okay, so basically it's trying to catch potential health issues before they even become problems. So what it does is it tracks and analyzes things like your pets licking or scratching, drinking, sleeping; and it captures those behaviors week over week. And then at the end of 30 days it sends you an email. So basically, it'll tell you if something is elevated, if it's fear, if it's occasional. And then you can go to your -- you can catch health problems before they become a problem. For example, as an example, my dog Oscar has ear problems, and sometimes they're a little bit more frequent than other times of the year. So it really gives me a chance to pick up on it and go to the vet or call my vet before becomes an ear infection.


Lorien Clemens  10:42  

Yeah, so this is like, it can actually help track and note things that maybe you're not observing. Like when Oscar is not with you, he may be scratching his ear, or what have you. Things that you're not seeing -- and right. 

I would love it if you can also talk too about, you know, the whole exercise thing. So we -- a lot of times, you know, it's an activity tracker. So it's not just about health, but it might also be -- well, and this is related to health -- but also about making sure that, you know, they don't become a little chonk.


Amy Tokic  11:10  

Although we do love the chonk, we don't want that.


Lorien Clemens  11:12  

I do love the chonk. I have a chonk cat for sure. But, you know, we want to make sure that they're getting enough exercise. Can you talk about how Whistle can be used to help customize that for your pet's needs?


Amy Tokic  11:26  

Right. Well, I have -- my dogs are small, and they have a higher, I guess, instance of becoming little chonks. So what basically you can do with the Whistle is you can set fitness goals based on the breed, the age and weight. And it lets you track your pet's calories that that they burned. It also tracks the distance, the minutes they've been active. And it lets you -- you know, this is kind of fun -- you can earn badges for milestones. So it lets you set up all of that to track your dog's fitness levels. 


Lorien Clemens  12:02  

So it's totally like Fitbit for dogs?


Amy Tokic  12:04  

Basically, yes.


Lorien Clemens  12:05  

Yeah. Awesome. And, of course, I don't wear my Fitbit as often as I should. But since it's on his collar, it probably would work a little bit better. 

Now, I love that Whistle has really great tracking capabilities. I mean, this obviously ties in directly with our mission here at PetHub about getting lost pets home fast. So could you talk about this? It's an upgraded feature, right?


Amy Tokic  12:28  

Yes. So it offers real time tracking. So no matter where your dog is, like your dog could just be down the street, or it could be somehow 3,000 miles away, you can locate them very quickly by using the real time GPS tracking. And it uses AT&T network and Google Maps.


Lorien Clemens  12:46  

Cool. And so this is a cost point, right? This is the higher price point. If you could talk a little bit about that because I know when people are out there, you know, considering what they're gonna do for their pet -- and some people are looking for just a GPS collar, some people are looking for just an activity collar, or activity tracker. This is certainly one that brings those two together, what kind of price point are they looking at for those options?


Amy Tokic  13:07  

Well, you're looking at just over about $100 for the Whistle attachment itself, and you get three months, I think right now, you get three months free with the Whistle 360 plan. So you're saving, I guess about $25 to $30 right now, but there is a yearly payment. If you sign up for a year, you get the three months free. (Editor's note: This was recorded during Black Friday sales, pricing for the product could be different at the time of listening).


Lorien Clemens  13:34  

I gotcha. But there's also a monthly [option] and it's like, what, 10 bucks a month or something like that?


Amy Tokic  13:36  

It's about -- yeah, it's about 10 bucks a month.


Lorien Clemens  13:38  

Gotcha. Okay, cool. So for those people that are looking for both of those things, this is an all-in-one solution that will help you get both of those things, and it's 10 bucks a month. So that's not really  -- actually that's not really that expensive when you look at what it comes with it. So that's a really great option.


Amy Tokic  13:53  

Right.


Lorien Clemens  13:54  

And why do you consider this to be, you know, on your list for this kind of option? Because there's, again, there's a lot of GPS collars out there. There's a lot of fitness activity trackers out there for dogs. Why is this on your list?


Amy Tokic  14:06  

Well Whistle, like you said before, is one of the big dogs. It's been around the longest, they're really reliable. And they're really on the forefront of adding new, innovative features to their products. So they don't just rest on their laurels. They're always innovating their products, and I really love that about the company.


Lorien Clemens  14:23  

Yeah, awesome. And I'm gonna just say this because I mean, nothing against Whistle or any of the other lost pet protection products, but I would be remiss if I didn't say this. The only way that these products will work for lost pets, is if you are very diligent about keeping those suckers charged because, you know, I mean it's -- I can't tell you how many times we've actually heard this from customers that are calling in it like, oh, you know, I hadn't charged this or whatever GPS collar thing you had on and I think it must have ran out of battery because it's no longer picking up. Not only do you have to keep it charged, but please don't rely on just that. Make sure you also have the external ID tag, obviously, preferably a PetHub ID tag, and a microchip, of course. So anyway, just have to throw that in there so that people don't become complacent because you know, hey, people do become complacent. And it just really, it's frustrating when I hear that. 

So anyway, but it is a great product, really like it is. Alright, pet lovers, we're gonna take a quick break before we dive into two more techie products that we got to keep an eye on. But I want to make sure that you know that we're gonna post all the information about these products in the show notes. They'll be on the PetHub website, you just go to PetHub and look up our Pet lover Geek stuff, and you'll find it right there. And Amy, hang tight. We're gonna be right back. And we're gonna talk about cat stuff because you know, kitties, they gotta get some love.


Music  15:45  

(music)


Lorien Clemens  15:59  

Okay, we are joined today by Amy Tokic, the Editor of PetGuide.com. And we are talking about some of the hottest pet products on the market, just in time for the holidays. And we talk about dogs all the time. I mean, there are so many products that are out there for dogs. I think that cat lovers and cat pet parents kind of feel a little bit, you know, left out sometimes. I have two cats myself. 

So I'm really excited that the next product we're going to talk about is all about the kitties. We're going to talk about Basepaws. We actually interviewed Beckie Mossor from Basepaws a few episodes ago. So if you want to learn more about your cat's DNA, make sure you listen to that episode because we get super nerdy about all the science behind the DNA. 

But today, Amy is going to walk us through all the basics of the DNA Basepaws test, and talk about all the different things that these tests you can learn from this test. I mean, it's crazy.


Amy Tokic  16:53  

I like this because it's fairly simple to do. It's very non-invasive. So, I know that cats usually don't like being checked over. So you just collect the DNA sample by -- you're going to swab the inside of your cat's cheek, and it's done. 

So what Basepaws does for you -- it compares each sample against the largest cat DNA database in the world to help better understand your cat breeds composition. So it tells you what kind of cat you have. Also, it has a wild cat index. And because all cats have a wild cat ancestry, some have more similarities than others. So it just, it just shows you what DNA your kitty has inherited more of.


Lorien Clemens  17:41  

I love it. I actually have a Basepaws kit that we're getting ready to do with our cat Tormund, who was named after a Wildling from Game of Thrones. Thank you very much. So, I'm sure he has a lot of wild feline in him. 

So other than just, you know, like, what's my DNA ancestry -- can you talk a little bit about what else we can learn from it? Because Basepaws -- and I remember talking to Beckie -- it's not just about, you know, what type of cat your cat is, as far as like, you know, breed like we think of dog breeds, but it's a little bit more than that. You want to talk about that a little bit?


Amy Tokic  18:18  

Well, they use the same genetic testing approach used to analyze human DNA, and they come up with the screen for common feline diseases. And they're the only company on the market that does so. And your report when it comes back will include 39 gene mutations, which correspond to 17 feline conditions and diseases. So that's pretty cool.


Lorien Clemens  18:41  

Oh, yeah. No, it's  awesome. And I'm shocked that it took this long for us to get a cat product, a DNA product on the market. 


Amy Tokic  18:48  

It really is.


Lorien Clemens  18:50  

Because there are more cats in the United States than there are dogs. I mean, that's just a fact. 


Amy Tokic  18:57  

Yeah. 


Lorien Clemens  18:57  

And I'm super excited that it's out there. And can you talk a little bit about like, why does this product, other than the fact that it is a sheer nerdy, wonderful product? Why is this on your list?


Amy Tokic  19:07  

Well, because I know a lot of people have adopted their cats from a shelter or they have found their cat as a stray. So you have no history of their health. So I love this. This is a great present for somebody who is just going to adopt a cat. It's like, it's like a baby shower but for your kitten.


Lorien Clemens  19:29  

I love that. I love it. And I like it, too, because you know, one of the things that Beckie was talking about when she was on the show, was there aren't really breeds per se there there are types of cats that are more alike than another, but they don't have those pure breeds, the way we think of dogs. And you know, I look at a dog and -- isn't this the truth -- you go to any like dog park and somebody is like, oh, he looks like he's a Corgi Chihuahua mix or he looks like he's a Rottweiler German Shepherd mix. It's like for cats, you are like, oh, he's orange. You know!


Amy Tokic  20:03  

Yeah, I was about to say they usually are like, oh, mine's a tortoiseshell or mine's, yeah, mine's orange.


Lorien Clemens  20:09  

Yeah, he's got long hair, you know! Instead of where -- so, I love that we're finally like digging a little bit deeper too, you know, like, give some love to the kitty cats. 

So we've talked about these great products, three great products. And we got one more to chat about. I have seen at shows before, but I've never actually tested it. And that's the SureFeed -- the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect. I think it's super cool. I really want to get one, particularly now that we're gonna be bringing a new dog into the house. I mean, for multi-pet households, it's, I think it's a really great option. Tell us how it works?


Amy Tokic  20:49  

Well, there's two components to this. There's a Feeder Connect, and then there's an Internet Hub. And yes, I think this would be great for your household. We were talking about chonks before, and this is good for cat chonks and dog chonks, usually smaller chonks, but still. It works with the internet hub, and a microchip in your pets collar. And it only allows that pet to use that SureFeeder, so they can only eat the food that's proportioned out for them. I don't know about you, but my dogs love to eat each other's food. So this ensures that they can't access the food for another breed or just their brother or sister.


Lorien Clemens  21:36  

Yeah, this is critical, too, for our household because Tormund, again, he will eat anything in sight. And he also has a disorder where he has to have very specialized urinary tract food. He can't have any standard cat food at all. Houdini, on the other hand, is teeny tiny. She, in fact, she was having weight problems for a long time. And we have to feed her basically whenever she wants, because hey, if she's hungry, we want to feed her because she's so tiny. So we always have the challenge of keeping Tormund away from her food because we don't want him in the emergency room and we want her to get fat, we actually want her to chonk up. So you mentioned a microchip in the collar that comes with the product. And the cool thing is, is that the SureFeed Microchip Feeder works with either that microchip tag that's included with the product or the microchip that's already in your pet, which is like super convenient if you've got a kitty like mine that refuses to wear a collar. So either way, you connect the microchip to the app to control the feeder, right?


Amy Tokic  22:41  

It's all attached to the internet hub, and an app on your phone. So basically, your app has a dashboard, and you can see each of your pets' feeding activities. It gives you insights into when your pet likes to normally eat, changes in their feeding patterns. It also lets you control it. You can set up different food types and set up the portion amount, or you can use a training mode. 

It also provides you with a timeline, it's basically a record of what's being done for the product, the pet or the user. So just it's sometimes -- some people like to have a detailed record of how often they're using the product. And you can set up different like -- you can set up different users on the product. So if you have a pet sitter, you can set up a profile for them and they have access to it.


Lorien Clemens  23:38  

Talk to me a little bit more about the training. What does that -- how would you use it as a training tool?


Amy Tokic  23:44  

Well, if your pet is like mine, food motivated. Let's just say your dog is barking, and you'd like to modify that behavior, you would set up your SureFeed to open up to offer food to stop the barking. 


Lorien Clemens  24:02  

Hmm, gotcha. Yeah.


Amy Tokic  24:04  

Kind of like a treat -- like a lot of the cameras have the treat tossers on it. It basically functions as that only it's not tossing your food.


Lorien Clemens  24:11  

Got it. Yeah, we don't always want pet food to be tossed everywhere. For sure. And why does this product end up on your list?


Amy Tokic  24:20  

I really like the company. It's one of the smarter feeders out there. And right now a little shameless plug on PetGuide, we're giving one away for the next -- until about mid December.


Lorien Clemens  24:33  

Oh, cool. Well, that's a perfect segue, then. Thank you for giving me that. Let's talk about where they can find out more information about you and all these products.


Amy Tokic  24:40  

Oh, okay. You can always visit our website at petguide.com. You can find us on Instagram @petguide, on Facebook @petguidepage, and on Twitter @petguidetweets.


Lorien Clemens  24:54  

Awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show. Always a pleasure.


Amy Tokic  24:57  

Thank you for having me.


Lorien Clemens  24:59  

All right, and by the way, I can't wait until we can actually see each other again, it, unfortunately, probably won't be at Global Pet Expo this year because --


Amy Tokic  25:06  

I know!


Lorien Clemens  25:07  

Thanks COVID! But hopefully SuperZoo next summer, people will have returned to health and we can actually see each other again. 

I want to make sure that everybody goes and visits petguide.com. It is a really terrific resource, it's one of my favorite places to visit on the internet to learn everything about pets, and to catch up with Amy and all the fun things that she keeps track of which are really awesome. So we're going to take a really quick break. But when we come back we're going to be chatting with the CEO of PupPod -- I mentioned it earlier. He is going to give us insight into the brand new version of the PupPod. We're gonna be right back. Stick around.


Music  25:46  

(Music)


Lorien Clemens  26:06  

Thanks to Amy we've just learned about four really cool tech products to look out for this season when you're buying for those fur kiddos. 

And next up I'm really excited to get to talk to Erick Eidus. He is the CEO of PupPod. It's a really great interactive game for your dog that they're very new version of the PupPod is available just in time for the holidays. And as you would find out if you were to check out the PupPod website, it's a toy that gives your dog mental stimulation. It's what they crave. It's what they really need, especially if you're not around all the time. Although those of us nowadays with quarantines are home a lot. But it's really wonderful. It's a game that gets harder as your dog gets smarter. And we're going to talk to Erick today in just a minute. 

But if you've been listening to Pet Lover Geek for a while or following us here at PetHub, you know that we've actually been following PupPod for several years. You may have actually heard when we chatted with Erick a couple years ago. But recently it's been really exciting because we've got to watch PupPod build their latest product and release because they're part of the Purina Pet Care Innovation Network just like we are. And the network has brought together founders of high growth pet startups to provide year round access to industry leaders, peer support and networking opportunities, like what we're doing here with Erick today, it's really exciting. So Erick, welcome to Pet Lover Geek.


Erick Eidus  27:29  

Thank you for having me.


Lorien Clemens  27:30  

I am really excited to talk with you about the new generation of PupPod that is just coming onto the market. But for those that maybe aren't familiar with PupPod, I want to make sure we give a little bit of background. 

So it's branded as the game that our dogs would invent if they could, and it's awesome. We've actually gotten to play with the first iteration of PupPod a number of times. But I'm really excited to hear about this new one. So we're gonna be posting a link in the show notes that will allow people to get right to your site to really show off the product to see how it works. But I would love it if you could kind of describe to everyone what PupPod is, so they have an idea of how it works and what it does.


Erick Eidus  28:11  

Sure, sure, there's three main pieces. There's the toy, which we call the PupPod Rocker. And that's what your dog interacts with. And when they interact with the toy at the right time, then they earn food rewards from the PupPod Feeder, which is the second part. And you can increase the difficulty of the game as your dog progresses through the puzzle. And then you can do all that with the PupPod mobile app, which is the third part -- that's just a download from the app stores. 

And the feeder has a camera, so you can start the game remotely from your phone and watch your dog -- stream live video of your dog playing the game. You can change the different difficulty settings in the game, so that the game could change what your dog -- you know remotely -- what your dog is trying to react to. 

Now in the beginning, your dog just has to touch the toy, and they'll get a reward. And the reason for that is just to build this connection between the toy and the feeder. Because it's not obvious. You can't explain it -- you can't sit your dog down and explain it to them. They just have to touch the toy and figure it out through operant conditioning or in more layman's terms, just kind of trial and error. 

And then once you get the hang of the connection between the toy and the feeder, then the game starts to get more interesting. You can increase the difficulty to the next level where they have to touch the toy within two seconds of a sound that you select. And we just call that the treat sound because that gives them a reward. 

And once they get the hang of that then you can increase the time between sounds. So they have to concentrate longer. So first they learn the connection, then they learn to touch when the cue or the treat sound plays, then you start to build concentration so that they have to focus on the sounds -- so that if they wander off and the sound plays and then they try to get back to the toy too late, then they don't get the reward. So they're the little doggy brain is going the whole time. 

And then the game can get progressively harder where we add a second sound, which is what a dog trainer would call a task discrimination cognitive challenge. And then at the next level, there's what we call an impulse control challenge, where if the dog touches the toy on the second sound, which by default sounds like an alley cat, then the alley cat sounds gonna play again. And the dog has to learn to not touch the toy for the alley cat in order for the sound to cycle back to the treats soudn, and then they can get the reward. 

And there's ways to change the time and make it random. So that it's not on a pattern. And you can also change the sequence of the sounds so that's not on a pattern. So adding in randomness is a whole other level of cognitive stimulation that the product will enable kind of at the higher levels. I mean, it could literally take five or six months for a dog to get to the point where they need that amount of challenge and some dogs may never get to that level of challenge. And that's totally fine. It's not like that's a goal. There are just different ways to give your dog challenges.


Lorien Clemens  31:24  

Yeah, well and not all of us have Einstein dogs. I've had both the Einstein dogs who I couldn't keep them engaged enough, and then the dogs that like, I'm lucky if they got sit and stay down.

But let's talk about -- because this is really a perfect blending of technology and enrichment for our dogs. And it's exciting and especially for those that love the super geeky stuff, but I would love it if you could just talk about, like, how, why is this kind of toy necessary? Like what does it do? I mean, obviously, you can talk about the way it dispenses treats and that kind of stuff, but what does it do for our dog's brains and the engagement that they need?


Erick Eidus  32:00  

Well, that's actually been fascinating. Um, and was one of the things that we kind of learned through the process of creating the product. But when a dog is problem solving, just like when humans problem solve, we use our prefrontal cortex in the brain. And when that part of the brain is active, it's consuming glucose and glutamine and other chemicals that power that part of the brain. And so when you see a dog, and if you're training with your dog, and after, like 10 or 15 minutes, they just are kind of tapped out. That's because they need to go rest and regenerate the chemicals in their brain to be able to power that part of their brain. 

And what we've seen with PupPod, anecdotally, is dogs can start to play for longer and longer periods of time. And the theory behind that is that their brains actually adapt in kind of the way a muscle that you exercise gets stronger. If you're using the prefrontal cortex -- the brain -- and the brain keeps running out of fuel, the brain starts to store a larger reserve of chemicals to power out of that part of the brain. And so then what you find out is that dogs can then concentrate for longer, and, you know, there's probably some biological benefits to the brain, which we can't prove, but the theory would support it and the subjective observations seem to align with that.


Lorien Clemens  33:31  

Well, and anecdotally speaking too, I mean, I know that from in our house, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Like a dog that, you know, that has been challenged, that has had the engagement and enrichment tends to just be more chill and it's super helpful. Yeah, go ahead.


Erick Eidus  33:49  

Well, you know, describing that part of the brain physiology, if you try to back that back into behavioral benefits, you know, for dogs that have separation anxiety, this could help them just be a lot more calm, because they're tired. They may not be as as amped up. And for working breeds, they just need to burn off some of that mental energy. Um, we've seen with blind dogs, you know, we've had some customers that had blind Border Collies, and the Border Collie just wants to work, but a blind dog can't go -- they just can't function as much as a seeing dog in terms of burning off all the energy. And with PupPod, it allows them to play the game off the sounds, and still activate that part of their mind that lets them, you know, mellow out and maybe reduce some anxiety.


Lorien Clemens  34:43  

Yeah, and there's quite a few handfuls of examples that you have on your website when folks go to look at it about, you know, how they can benefit the dog and for us, frankly as the pet parents. And there's ways that you can adapt the toy to help with different things. So for example, love the idea that you can have a doorbell treat sound to help train the dogs, you know, because I think that for a lot of us that doorbell even when it goes on the TV, the dog goes crazy. So I'd love it if you could talk about the different ways that you can use the toy for those type of training exercises.


Erick Eidus  35:20  

Well, the the fundamentals of the game is that a sound plays and then the dog earns reward off of that sound. And in the first generation product, and in the PupPod Rocker, which we just released, we just had the same sounds we had from before just to get the product shipped and getting the market. But we will be releasing even more sounds. So there'll be multiple different doorbells, you can pick from.

That's a scenario that a lot of pet parents can relate to because it's really annoying. It can be really annoying when your dog goes nuts when the doorbell rings, even if it's a doorbell on TV, or your home doorbell. And there'll be other sounds like knocking on a door or potentially even trying to bring some sounds kind of like fireworks. Where if a dog is getting rewarded for that sound, they start to build an association that it's a positive thing. And so then when they hear the sound, they're thinking, oh, I get rewards when I hear that sound. 

And you know, it's up for people to experiment with. It's not going to be the right sound for every dog. But um, we're trying to give pet parents different tools, so that they can accomplish some behavior modification through positive reinforcement. 

Software has infinite patience, and it's much more consistent than humans. So for some of these things that -- some of these issues are actually quite challenging for your average pet parent to solve because it takes time and consistency and timing. And if the software and a smarter gaming product for your dog can actually deliver some of these benefits, this is something that, you know, is right in our wheelhouse for the ways we want to deliver technology to help dogs live better lives and pet parents, you know, have better experiences too.


Lorien Clemens  37:18  

Yeah, and I love too that the fact that you're dealing with a product that's fueled by software, it means that you can adapt -- I mean, like with updates and things like that, you don't have to go buy a new toy every single time. It's like software is incredible in that way. 

So we don't have much time, but I want to make sure before we go that you tell listeners how they can learn more about PupPod, how it's available, and where they can get it.


Erick Eidus  37:39  

Sure it's on our website. It's spelled PupPod.com -- go to PupPod.com. And you can also buy it on Amazon. And we're starting to sell on Instagram and Facebook. So you may find links to the product on Instagram and Facebook that will take you back to our website.


Lorien Clemens  37:59  

But yeah, and you know the way that the algorithms work now as soon as they listen to this podcast, they're gonna be seeing it in their feed. So good deal. Thank you so much, Erick, for joining us today. We really hope to have you back in the future as you continue to grow this really great product. It's been wonderful to watch the iterations and you know the evolution of PupPod. So thanks so much for sharing it with us.


Erick Eidus  38:21  

My pleasure.


Lorien Clemens  38:22  

Stay tuned pet lovers, we're gonna be right back in just a couple of minutes to wrap up today's episode.


Music  38:27  

(Music)


Lorien Clemens  38:42  

Thank you so much for tuning in today, pet lover. Pet industry is growing and it's always so much fun to learn about cool new products that are available out there to make our lives easier -- to make our pets lives better. And if they're geeky and techie, we love them all the more. 

So we've included links to the products that we mentioned in today's episode in the show notes, but you can also check out our blog posts on pethub.com that highlights even more cool techie products for pets that are on the market today. 

Now we'd love if you could leave a rating for us for Pet Lover Geek's podcast. It helps pet lovers like you find us online. Pet Lover Geek is powered by PetHub and we're gonna be back in a couple of weeks to talk about more geeky and techie pet things. See you then, pet lovers.






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