CleverPet Hub – Getting to Know Our Smart Puzzle

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by CleverPet Hub. 

I have been so very excited to share with my readers more information about the CleverPet Hub, a smart puzzle and game console made especially for dogs. But, before I begin our three part series on our CleverPet Hub experience, let me give you a little bit of background.

Herding Breeds and Their Need for Mental Stimulation

We have all heard the phrase, “A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog” and that is most certainly true in my experience as a dog mom. I have been lucky to experience a variety of dog breeds in my life, everything from Chows to Chihuahuas, and Labs to Spaniels. But, keeping a herding breed at this tired/happy level, was something new I hadn’t yet experienced, until I met Rooney. Herding breeds need mental stimulation and physical exercise in order to remain happy, challenged, fulfilled. The work they have been bred to do is challenging and requires a level of intelligence that sitting around our houses does not. Of course that’s not to say that Rooney doesn’t get regular walks, daycare, and training. However, having a tool that can help us provide regular and consistent mental stimulation to our dogs, beyond our normal exercise, is imperative for the overall health of many breeds.

But, you don’t have to take my anecdotal experience with herding breeds at face value, you can also reference the research of Dr. Brian Hare, who leads the Duke Canine Cognition Center. According to Dr. Hare, it’s important to note that your dog (and all dogs) have different cognitive abilities:

  • How your dog communicates
  • How he/she remembers things
  • What he/she can infer (in other words, spontaneously solving novel problems that he has never been seen before)
  • and How he/she responds to the emotions of others

According to Dr. Hare, it is important that pet parents understand 1) what cognitive abilities our dogs have 2) how we can we stimulate these abilities to keep our dog’s mind in tip-top shape, especially as they age.

One of the best ways I can do this for Rooney is provide him with challenges to solve that are mixed with play. For this type of solution, I look to puzzles.

Rooney’s History with Puzzles

Rooney’s history with puzzles isn’t great. Mostly because he is impatient (like his mom). So, his solution to the puzzles available at your local pet store is to destroy them so that he can get to the treats faster. I equate this to the way I open a chip bag; effective, but messy.

So when I got an email from CleverPet I was really excited to try something much more high-tech and sturdy. I assured them of a few things:

  1. Rooney will try to destroy it. To that, they said they had tested the sturdiness of the CleverPet Hub on wildlife animals and it held up. To that, I said, touché.
  2. Rooney likes puzzles (I thought this was true before, but now I know), we just haven’t figured out how to get one to survive. They assured me that some dogs take time to get to know the CleverPet Hub, but once they do, it can provide a level of mental stimulation they need.

Our First Experience

So, I brought the CleverPet Hub home and I followed the instructions for set up, downloaded the app, and plugged it in. Even though Alex from CleverPet told me that some dogs take sometime to get used to the noise associated with the food delivery, I thought Rooney would have no problem with it because very few things startle him.

However, sure as the sun rises, Rooney was startled by the noise and began to vocalize his opinion of it (Corgi parents out there know what I mean by “vocalize”). Noises associated with “what the heck is that?!?”.

So my husband and I were giving Rooney treats by the CleverPet Hub and leading up to it (very high-value and yummy treats). But we couldn’t get Rooney to accept the noise yet.

My First Mistake

So then I thought to myself, my friend’s dog Grayson (Aussie Cattle Dog/Border Collie mix) will like this puzzle right away and when Rooney sees him playing with it, he will want to play with it too! See, Rooney is very competitive (again, like his mom), and I thought this might motivate him to get used to the food-delivery sound.

While all of that was technically true. Rooney did indeed want to play with the Hub because Grayson was playing with it, and the competition did work. It only worked while Grayson was present. Because we used my friend’s Wifi to link the CleverPet Hub, we left the Hub with Grayson for a few days so that he could play with it and see how he liked it.

Mind you, Grayson is definitely the “your dog knows 1,000 words” kinda smart and he went through the levels very quickly. He had no problem whatsoever with the noise associated with the delivery of food and very quickly got used to the Hub and figured out the lights.

My mistake was not taking the Hub to Grayson’s house, or using competition to try to get Rooney to like it. It was not taking the time to get Rooney used to the CleverPet slowly but surely in our home with some level of consistency right when we got it.

How do I know that was a mistake? Read on.

I Finally Got My Act Together

Rooney continued to vocalize at the CleverPet hub when we turned it on and tried to give him treats by it on-and-off for the next few weeks. However, we weren’t consistent with this. We were trying to get him used to it every few days with no type of plan or consistency.

Once I finally got my act together and said to myself, “Rooney will get used to the CleverPet, we just need to be consistent and do more research in order to be successful”.  So I emailed the CleverPet support team, you can even do this directly through the app, and said that I was having a hard time getting Rooney used to the food-delivery noise.

Their first suggestion was to feed Rooney by the Hub while it was off, and then start turning on the Hub and continuing to feed Rooney in a bowl next to the Hub. The whole goal was to try to build a positive association with something I knew Rooney would love and benefit from. So for the next week, we fed Rooney by the Hub in a separate bowl with the Hub unplugged. Then, we plugged the CleverPet Hub back in and continued to feed him near it for a few more days. While Rooney would jump a little at first, he ultimately would be too focused on his food to react to the CleverPet Hub food delivery sound while he was eating. “The Sound” that was so startling to him before was quickly becoming background noise.

On Thanksgiving Rooney would be getting a special meal from Petcurean, so we were sure to feed that to him by the Hub as well.

Success! – Almost

Positive association with the CleverPet Hub achieved. Now all we had to do was get him to eat out of the Hub.

So, then we started to use the Hub itself as a bowl. We would unplug the CleverPet Hub and pour Rooney’s breakfast or dinner on top of the feeding area. Then, Rooney became used to the Hub itself being a source of food. After a few days, we turned the CleverPet Hub on, and used a few high value treats mixed with kibble to get Rooney used to it.

The key to success here was for me to walk out of the room. I turned it on, and went upstairs to continue cleaning the house, and I heard Rooney eating out of it. I realized at that moment, if I was watching him, he wasn’t fully focused on trying to figure out the Hub, he was more like, “Mom, help me figure out how to get food outta this thing”. Which is probably because we are associated with Rooney’s food and have been for almost 6 years. However, once I removed myself from the equation, that was the final step in getting Rooney to interact with the CleverPet Hub.

Real Success

Rooney zoomed through the first two levels in a day, and then has been slowly working through the CleverPet Hub levels in the past few weeks. On weekends, and days I work from home, Rooney is fed his breakfast through the Hub which keeps him busy while I am working and also provides him with mental stimulation. Not to mention, he LOVES it! While I was writing this post, he started to fall asleep on it! I’m so glad we took the time and necessary steps so that Rooney could have something that makes him happy and fulfilled!

There are so many cool features associated with the CleverPet Hub and the app, but I’m going to go over those in the next post. However, let me know in the comments below if you have any further questions about our CleverPet Hub experience!

Disclaimer: Rooney and I were provided with a CleverPet Hub so that we could provide our honest opinion. My Kid Has Paws only reviews products that we believe our readers will enjoy. 

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15 Comment

  1. Reply
    M. K. Clinton
    December 13, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I love the Clever Pet and it is something we would enjoy watching the boys entertain themselves with! I knew Rooney could do it.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Confessions of a SqueakaholicMy Profile

  2. Reply
    Lola The Rescued Cat
    December 15, 2017 at 9:42 am

    I’m glad Rooney ended up liking the Clever Pet. I think this is such a clever (hence the name, I suppose) puzzle for dogs. It looks like a lot of fun.
    Lola The Rescued Cat recently posted…Blogging Cats Weekly Planner – Get The Discount Code!My Profile

  3. Reply
    Anita Aurit
    December 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    I saw this at BlogPaws and loved reading your write up of how it actually works with dogs. What a great idea. All of us pet parents are always looking to enrich the environment for our fur kids and this sounds like an excellent way to keep them interested and happy.

  4. Reply
    Tenacious Little Terrier
    December 15, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    It’s great he finally got accustomed to it. Mr. N wasn’t quite sure what to make of the noise coming from my friend’s remote feeder toy but that didn’t stop him from eating the food!

  5. Reply
    Jana Rade
    December 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    I’m seriously thinking about getting one. Hopefully sophisticated enough for Cookie. Any other puzzle doesn’t challenge her more than the first time she gets it and some are just too obvious from the first minute.

  6. Reply
    Jessica @youdidwhatwithyourwiener
    December 15, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Gretel’s problem with puzzles is that she figures them out in like 5 minutes and then it becomes a neat feeding dish. I saw the CleverPet Hub when I was visiting Jodi Chick. Gretel was with me and she definitely seemed intrigued but a little scared of it. I’ve thought about getting her one though because it’s something she can’t figure out quickly. I like the idea of feeding her from it when it’s off first and then transitioning. I think that would work for her to get it used to it.

  7. Reply
    Lori Hilliard
    December 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    I’m looking forward to your next post about Clever Pet. I’m actually glad that you outlined the steps you took to introduce the new noises to Rooney. But would this toy work for my dog, who is deaf? It’s difficult to find interactive toys to stimulate Soldier because he lost his hearing in his old age, and I’d really like to find something that would keep him interested.

  8. We’ve worked with the CleverPet Hub before and really liked it. Two of my dogs thought it was the best thing ever, but my Border Collie mix, Lilah, was having none of it. The challenge in our household is there are inquisitive cats as well, and I don’t want to encourage any resource guarding between dogs and cats. Thus I can only bring out the Hub when the cats are otherwise occupied. Other than that, I think it’s a great way to stimulate a pet’s mind. And that means a happier pet.
    —Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  9. Reply
    Cathy Armato
    December 17, 2017 at 7:37 am

    It’s great that you stuck with it & got Rooney to enjoy the full benefits! One question: where exactly did you download the app – on your phone? Laptop? How does it work when you’re not home in terms of the app? Does a phone or computer need to be on with app running when you’re away? I look forward to your upcoming posts about other activities available on the Hub.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  10. Reply
    The Dash Kitten Crew
    December 17, 2017 at 10:50 am

    How cool to have a toy that engages a dog’s attention. Many are solved and finished so quickly that having something interactive (we love our tech).

    I appreciate that you had a learning curve to het it right. The positives are that you learned a lot more about the Hub. I always think if it took someone a while to learn it they will have more and better things to say about a piece of pet equipment.
    The Dash Kitten Crew recently posted…What’s This Strange New Thing?My Profile

  11. Reply
    Sweet Purrfections
    December 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    This looks like an exciting product to help with dog’s mental stimulation. I’m sure my sister’s Australian Shepherds would love this.

    I really like how you are writing about your “true” experiences with the product.

  12. Reply
    December 17, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    It sounds very intriguing. It sounds like Rooney is on his way to becoming a puzzle fiend. I think my dog Theo would really like one of these. I’ve had dogs all my life, and I can’t help but think that my old dogs would say “when I was a pup, all I had was one toy, and it was a stick!”
    Beth recently posted…Spotlight: Year of the Monkey | Babu & ParomaMy Profile

  13. Reply
    December 18, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Ha ha ha ha ha. Firstly, I love your comparison of Rooney destroying games, and the way you open a chip bag (so that you both can get to the yummies faster). Thanks for explaining how to, and the importance of, training dogs on getting used to this game. I will have to look into this for Henry!

  14. Reply
    Amelia Johnson
    December 18, 2017 at 7:57 am

    I am always buying puzzle games for Gusto. It’s good that you had the patience to work through the noise issue for Rooney. Competition is always fun too.

  15. Reply
    Kim Kelderhouse
    December 19, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Puzzle Toys and Slow Feeder bowls are amazing! We use them with most of our dogs and especially the fosters we get that are on crate rest. When we can’t take the dogs out and play in the yard due to their medical status the best way to exercise their brains is a puzzle toy! We swear by them! It is great!

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