I noticed my pups Ziggie and Dougal looking a little bored and wanted a new way to engage him in order to keep his mind sharp. That’s when I happened upon the CleverPet Hub, an interactive puzzle toy which is meant to get your dog thinking while they eat. There are so many puzzle toys out on the market, so I’ll let you know exactly what they thought about the CleverPet, and why your dog might love it too.
About the CleverPet founders
I wanted to know about not only the CleverPet
CleverPet began in 2014 on Kickstarter. It was designed by dog behaviorists and neuroscientists, combining cognitive neuroscience with animal training. With this in mind, the CleverPet Hub guys told me all about how they really just want to improve dog’s lives.
It’s worth mentioning that the team is small, so when it comes to both customer service and a personal touch, CleverPet certainly beats out some of the larger competitors out there.
Why the CleverPet is different from other dog toys
If you’re out working all day, your dog either gets up to mischief or sleeps.
Millions of dogs just sit around and do nothing all day because we don’t know how to stimulate their minds properly, but with neuroscience backing up their efforts, CleverPet hopes to change that. Their goal is to create an interactive dog toy to improve the overall communication and relationship you have with your dog.
If humans have evolved so much in the past 100,000 years, who’s to say dogs can’t become smarter as well?
The whole point of the CleverPet is to provide your dog with stimulation even when you’re not there. Instead of returning home to find a mess from your anxious dog, the Hub keeps them occupied continuously.
With CleverPet, you can literally transform your pet parenting just by connecting the Hub to your
Here’s how it works
You already know a little bit about the CleverPet, but let’s go into some more detail about how it makes your dog smarter. This little hub tempts your dog with lights as they figure out puzzles to get rewarded with treats and kibbles.
Over a few days to weeks and months, you can discover your dog’s hidden talents, while giving them something to use up their energy, stimulate their mind, and even slow down their eating.
For dogs who spend a lot of time alone, or who gobble up their food a little too fast, this product is perfect. It really gives your pooch the ability to play all day. Just be sure that the kibble is smaller than a dime, so your dog isn’t waiting all day for some food to come out when it’s stuck!
I brought home the CleverPet to test out with my dogs Ziggie, a lurcher, and Dougal, a lurcher cross. I wanted to see how it would work amongst different dogs, how dogs respond to it, and if I could really feel comfortable leaving my dogs alone with it. To see if it might work for your dogs too, take a look at Dougal’s experience.
How To Get Started
Before I just plopped the CleverPet down and had Dougal and Ziggie check it out, I had to think about the best way to introduce the new device in order to pique my dog's interest.
First, I set it down to allow my dogs to sniff around to see what it was. Be sure to allow your dog to get used to it for a little before putting it into action. You don’t want to scare them off with a really difficult test right off the bat! I placed some high value treats in the hopper so that the doggies could have a good sniff around. I then downloaded the app to connect the device to wifi and set up a profile for Dougal.
Tips for Usage
Okay, so you have the app, you’ve placed the Hub down, and your dog is sniffing around. What next?
If you’ve not done so already, place some high-value treats inside the Hub’s hopper, starting off early with some positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to be interested in it. As you move forward, mix in that treat with the normal kibble. This will make those treats into a jackpot once your dog finds them!
The CleverPet has a few different challenges, starting at level 1 before moving to even more difficult tasks. When I turned it on to the initial challenge, I thought Ziggie would get it immediately! He’s always hunting for food, but he didn’t seem to really get it. I even tried placing his paws on the pads before he gave up. Not all dogs get it straight away, so a little encouragement by placing treats on the pads can work. Unfortunately Ziggie lost interest when Dougal came over to see what all the fuss was about!
Next was Dougal’s chance. Dougal took some time to watch what was going on, and started sniffing around. He understood right away that he had to push the panels with his nose.
He then progressed to realizing that he needs to push the pads which light up to get the treat.
That was a breakthrough as it took a good few weeks to get to this point - can you think of another toy where your dog still plays with it 3 months on?
Are dogs color blind?
Recently the hub updated with a new Color Match game. If like me you thought that dogs are colorblind, think again. Dogs can actually see blues and greens and the CleverPet uses to introduce a new game where your dog must match the colors in sequence, for the
Dougal’s just figured out that the colors correlate with getting food! He’s still learning of course, but it was amazing to watch him slowly figure out how exactly to solve these puzzles to get his food.
Here's an intro to the new game:
Yes, Dougal did pick up the Hub pretty fast, but he did need to get used to the pads first like most dogs, and needed lots of encouragement to really start getting into it. The first week or two, I really had to nudge him to interact with the Hub properly before he started understanding without my help. Something as simple as lifting your dog’s paws to the pads, or placing treats on the pads, can be a huge help. After a week, check back to see how your dog is doing and if they need a little more of your time to start using the Hub.
Do You Have Multiple Dogs?
I happen to have two dogs, with one who just didn’t connect with the Hub. That might have been for the best, since the CleverPet is only designed for one dog. If you want two dogs using it, you need to be sure they’re on the same skill level. The app can return to previous challenges, but you can’t have both profiles set up on it.
Not everything about this device is perfect though, even if I love watching my dog figure it out. It can be slightly noisy when the treats or food come out, so if you have it set up when you need quiet, it may get slightly irritating. On top of that, the app home screen took a little getting used to.
Whilst it’s easy to use, it was hard to differentiate between games when the previous game’s information stays on the screen. I was able to work it out fairly quickly, but the app could do with a little clean up of the home screen once you get started. I would have loved to see more stats other than the number of games and treats given on this screen. Time of day, the time between feeds and so on could make the stats more interesting - perhaps an idea for a future update!
Getting Help if your pooch isn’t quite gelling with the hub
You may have a few concerns about your dog breaking it or being unable to figure it out, but rest assured that the CleverPet is completely durable, and safe to leave with your dog if you can’t be at home. Even if your dog doesn’t get it at first, there’s a 60-day money back guarantee, and and the hub figures out your dog’s skill level so it will never advance further than what your pup can cope with.
You can track their progress, see hints and tips in a few great video tutorials and you can manage their progress on the app.
If you do happen to have any trouble, the CleverPet guys have a support team at your disposal. Send them an email or give them a call for help with the app or if you’re just getting frustrated. Be sure to check out their Facebook page too for videos and other customer's experiences. They'll put you right back on track if you’re a little lost, and should help you puzzle through any and all issues.
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When it comes to the CleverPet Hub, the most important takeaway is that you do need to put a little bit of time into it if you want your dog to take an interest. Dougal took some time himself, but he came around to it with some help. Don’t be afraid to contact the Hub guys either! They’re wonderful to talk to and full of tons of great information on how to personalize this experience just for your dog.
If you’re looking to solve the problem of a bored dog, the CleverPet Hub is just what you need!
We loved the CleverPet. It's the only toy that our dogs are still playing with months on. We also love that the hub can be updated with new games over the air, so in theory, all you need is the hub and food and you'll never have bored dogs! The app could do with some attention to the user experience, and we'd love to see more stats.