We no longer sell the AutoTrainer ourselves but you can find it at PetExpertise.com
Designed by Dr. Ian Dunbar, the founder of SIRIUS® Puppy & Dog Training, this miraculous little machine monitors barking throughout the day and rewards your dog for being calm and quiet, using nothing more than kibble and science.
The AutoTrainer teaches your dog to stop barking and to settle down calmly, quietly and happily when left alone at home.
Stops owner-absent recreational and/or boredom barking
Considerably reduces home-alone hyperactivty
Relieves separation anxiety
The AutoTrainer is fully automatic and trains your dog for you; no prior training is necessary for dog or owner. Simply fill the food hopper with some dry kibble, press Teach Me or Calm Me and leave the machine to work its magic while you are away from home. (Use a portion of your dog’s daily ration of kibble to auto-train; no treats and no extra food and so, no weight gain.) The AutoTrainer teaches your dog not to bark by periodically rewarding your dog for being quiet and delaying the food delivery whenever your dog barks.
Teach Me mode
The dog learns that an anticipatory cascade of tones eventually leads to kibble delivery. The tones progressively increase in pitch as food delivery nears and so the dog learns how long to wait for a food reward.
We originally designed the AutoTrainer to automatically train home-alone dogs to stop barking and for this, the AutoTrainer is extremely effective. However, during our testing, we found that most dogs decreased their activity levels. They paced less because they spent more time lying down and most dogs liked to lie down close to the AutoTrainer and so, make sure to place the machine next to your dog’s bed. Dogs are less likely to bark when lying down and so, right from the outset, each food delivery rewards your dog for being quiet and for lying down and not running around and otherwise getting into mischief. The length of the tone sequences increases with each cycle and so, with successive trials, your dog will lie down quietly for longer and longer in anticipation of an eventual food reward.
The collar detects when your dog barks using patented dual-detection technology, so only your dog's barks are recorded by the collar. Each time your dog barks, the AutoTrainer emits an “Uh-oh” sound but the tone cascade proceeds uninterrupted until food delivery. Basically, the AutoTrainer simply lets your dog know that it heard the bark. In Teach Me mode, there are no consequences for barking.
The Bark History display screen allows you to see how often your dog barks while you’re away, allowing you to track your dog’s progress. Additionally, you may use the Bark & Activity Counter to see how quickly and effectively the AutoTrainer reduces home-alone barking and hyperactivity.
Calm Me mode
The length of the repetitive tone sequences increase with each trial and so train your dog to be calm and quiet for progressively much longer stretches of time. If your dog goes to sleep or is slow to eat the food, the AutoTrainer also goes to sleep so as not to bug the dog. However, the Autotrainer wakes up and resumes the next tone sequence the moment your dog eventually eats the food.
If your dog barks or sets off the Tilt alarm during Calm Me mode, the AutoTrainer emits an “Uh-oh” sound and the current tone sequence is reset to the beginning and so, the dog has to wait longer for the food delivery. Essentially the “Uh-oh” sound is a Delay of Reward Marker, which dogs try to avoid and so, their barking decreases.
My co-inventor, John Watson, who was originally a cognitive psychologist for babies but more recently has co-authored a couple of papers on dog cognition, remarked that he thought that our test dogs were “attaching” to the machine, like Harry Harlow’s isolation-reared monkeys, in the absence of their real mothers, attached (both physically and psychologically) to a metal wire frame (surrogate “mother”) covered in terry cloth. I find it kind of sad that home-alone dogs attach to the AutoTrainer but I guess it only advertises just how very lonely they are. My latest nickname for the AutoTrainer is “Buddy”, as in get your dog a buddy — an electronic Buddy.
It actually came as a surprise for us that the AutoTrainer has been extremely effective for rehabilitating dogs with severe separation anxiety. Providing comfort for home-alone dogs is a successful application of the AutoTrainer that we hadn’t expected and so, I only recently (last night) wrote guidelines for this purpose:
For three weeks, when you are home, feed your dog ONLY from the AutoTrainer. NO food bowl and absolutely NO handfed treats. For the first week, position the AutoTrainer (in Teach Me mode) next to where you are sitting to get your dog accustomed to eating from the machine. For the second week, position the AutoTrainer (in Calm Me mode) a little farther away each day until the machine is in a different room to get your dog accustomed to eating from the machine when you are out of sight. For week three, position the AutoTrainer next to your dog’s bed in a quiet room with relaxation music playing. Make a point of walking around the house and repeatedly leave the house for short but progressively longer periods. Each time you come back indoors, turn off the music and the AutoTrainer. Each time before leaving the house, turn the music and AutoTrainer back on again. Now you are ready for the AutoTrainer to work its magic when you are away. Turn on the music and the AutoTrainer before leaving the house in the morning and turn off the music and AutoTrainer as soon as you return. In no time at all, your dog will regain the confidence to enjoy spending time at home alone and then, you may handfeed kibble (as food rewards for teaching manners and tricks) as much as you like.
For dogs that tend to gulp their food or eat too quickly, the AutoTrainer also ensures that your dog’s meal will be spaced out throughout the day. For dogs to eat large meals once or twice a day … every day … is unhealthy and unnatural. In the wild, dogs snack throughout the day. If ever a dog were lucky enough to catch a rabbit, it would gorge but then regurgitate and then nibble and snack and maybe bury leftovers to savor in the future. For most mammals, dogs included, eating large meals, especially dry kibble, is unhealthy and not without danger.
Some of you might worry that snacking might affect your dog’s housetraining. Basically, though, if a dog is housetrained, it is housetrained, irrelevant of how it eats. Not much different from people really; once we are housetrained we can periodically gorge, or snack all day long.