Product: Treat & Train by PetSafe
Cost: $90-110, depending on where you purchase it
Available: Chewy.com* and other online retailers
Length of ownership: 4 months
The Treat & Train (T&T ) is a remote-controlled treat dispensing tool that was designed to help owners teach dogs a down-stay behavior, particularly for when the owner needs to answer the door. The development of this tool has been published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science under the title, “Efficacy of a remote-controlled, positive-reinforcement, dog-training system for modifying problem behaviors exhibited when people arrive at the door.”
TheT&T comes with the actual food dispensing robot, a cue wand and stand, the remote control, an instructional guide, a quick-start guide and a DVD. It comes with a battery but you will need to purchase or already have a “down-stay” mat/bed that is only brought out for training exercises. I perused the instructional guide and quick-start guide but the DVD was most helpful for me. The DVD went through, in a 1990’s PSA style, all the steps of training with the T&T and, critically, common mistakes at each step of the way. The DVD also included a very helpful section about how to tell if your dog is overweight in the bonus material!
I bought the T&T because my husband was working 10-12 hour shifts and I was finding it difficult to work with both of our dogs on training activities. Although both Luna and Allie have pretty good “stay”s, it wasn’t very much fun to have one dog sit still while I worked with the other and someone usually got bored by these exercises. And Luna has mildly poor manners when people come to the door!
I started Luna, our 2 year old lab, with the T&T because impulse control does not come naturally for her. Before I talk about its functionality, I am super pleased with the T&T’s durability. Luna really gave that thing a lashing before she mastered the idea that she only received kibble from the T&T for sitting quietly (which is addressed in the DVD and instructional guide). I also have dropped the T&T on occasion and it has stood up admirably.
Luna and I completed the incremental steps that the first step of the T&T instructions required and I am still astounded by the results. With the T&T, Luna went from barely being able to sit still for 3 seconds to sitting patiently in front of the T&T for over 120 seconds for multiple sessions. As evidenced by Dr. Yin’s publication in Applied Animal Behavior Science, the T&T protocol absolutely works.
Because I am not diligently following the T&T protocol currently, Luna and I are still working on her down-stay with distractions with the T&T. If I had stuck to the T&T protocol, I have no doubt that Luna would be completely trained to down-stay while I answered the door, whatever distractions were present. The progress she has made with impulse control because of the T&T simply amazes me. I view the T&T as a having a personal dog trainer that I can pull out of my closet at my convenience and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.
On a separate note, the T&T can be used for many more fun games besides “down-stay” at the door. The instructional booklet has some ideas for training behaviors at a distance and using the targeting behavior of the T&T protocol for exercise and mental stimulation. As long as you understand the positive reinforcement concepts behind the T&T protocol, the limit for its use is probably just your imagination.
*I regularly use Chewy.com to order dog and cat food as well as other pet supplies. I’m not sponsored by this company in any way. I LOVE them because they are affordable, have great customer service and fast shipping.