A while back when I first discovered Make Magazine, (which eventually led me to instructables) they featured a project where a pug got his own treat by pressing on a paddle. The makers design was awesome, but was much more complex. I was thinking how could I do this in a more simple manner... The idea faded to the back of my head until several years later when...
I was at a thrift store in town and found one of those old golf machines, the kind you use as a putting target. You shoot the ball at the target; if it goes in correctly the ball would trigger a switch, which in turn energizes a solenoid. The solenoid would pop the ball out and the switch would automatically reset, simple. This is truly when inspiration struck for this build, I thought this would be simplest method of ejecting a dog biscuit. Not only is the design utterly simple, it makes a satisfying sort of noise upon activation “ka-chunk-brazzzat”. This noise acts as a Pavlovian training aid, as it has quite a distinguishable sound. I have always had an interest in Ivan Petrovich Pavlov's experiments. So much so that so, that one of my paintings is based them. He was one of the first to perform experiments involving conditioning. Kinda like Mad scientist brainwashing to a degree – yikes! One of his classic experiments involves feeding a dog while a bell rings. The dog has all its life been conditioned to associate the ringing of the bell with his food. Later the dog is given food without the bell ringing and the dog can not or will not eat. Another time the bell is rung without any food given, and the dog salivates like crazy. – “Little know fact, this is the main reason the experiment was performed. To measure the amount of given saliva or “psychic secretions” produced in relation to the digestive system for dogs, and later for children. Some of his other experiments were a little too freaky for me, as at the time scientists gave little thought to animal suffering.”
Here is a link to good ol' Pavlov - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov
Of course the thought behind this is not so I have my dog Maximus drooling all over the place, but rather to provide a fun means where he can help himself to his own treat – furthering my degree in laziness, or to quote ToneLoc from the movie Fern Gully, “an un-necessary expenditure of calories” .
NOTE 1: Before you begin, this involves using dangerous power tools and electricity - be careful! If you don't feel comfortable with some of the wiring steps or power tool usage, get a friend who can do it for you, or show you how.
Also very important, If your dog is a glutton, and is susceptible to various doggy complications from potentially becoming overweight, meter out how much access your dog has to this device. My dog is a dachshund, they are prone to hip degeneration if they gain too much weight. Suffice to say, this isn't left out all the time.
NOTE 2: As you may have noticed, the dog used in the video looks a little, well... off. My own dog Max refuses to perform for camera. As soon as he sees a camera he forgets all of his Pavlovian conditioning and runs straight for the camera for snuggles. So, i built my own artificial Max, Maximus 2.0
NOTE 3: It has been brought to my attention that this instructable would be ill advised to be just left out, as it could lead to a form of OCD in dogs. Basically imagine your dog has been trained to use the Pavlovian device. Then you either forget to fill it or perhaps leave it unplugged, and your happy dog goes to use the now defunct unit = The dog becomes frustrated. So perhaps if you have a dog prone to loopy behaviour this should be used as a supervised item only. This may also be beneficial if you your dog is a glutton as his access will be limited.
Step 1: Tools and supplies
- Project box – your choice of finish, doesn’t have to be metal, and you could always make it yourself
- 110v solenoid – mine was pulled from an auto golf putt return machine
- 110v house plug and cable – mine was recycled from the golf machine
- U-channel about 6 inches worth – sized to your dog biscuit shape
- Legs, if you like that sort of thing
- Momentary switch – must be very easy to activate
- Metal tube to act as a dog biscuit holder - sized to your dog biscuit shape
- Piece of plate metal or wood – sized to your project box – mine was about 4”x5”
- Hinge – must move with little to no resistance
- Various connectors – screws and bolts
- The odd chunk of plywood – sized to the inside bottom of your box
- Epoxy glue (5 minute or faster, cause who has time to wait!)
- Hot glue sticks
- And of course some dog biscuits – these really will determine the design “form follows function”
- Angle grinder with various zip-cuts and grinding wheels “flap disc” is king
- Drill or better yet drill press
- Glue Gun
- Various hand tools