Introduction: Sphero Dog Puzzles

About: I am interested in the relationships between humans, animals, and technology.

For my MSc in Interaction Design thesis at Malmö University (Sweden), I experimented with a device called Sphero, a ball that is connected with a smartphone through Bluetooth and can be moved around by a human through an interface on a smartphone, in order to explore a dog’s reactions to an interactive robotic object.

The video shows a summary of this design process. The final outcome consists of four different dog puzzles that are cut out with the lasercutter in order to fit on Sphero's Chariot. In this Instructable I will share the files and making off these puzzles.

(These dog puzzles are inspired by the dog puzzle design carried out in a previous project (see in which I collaborated with Dariela Escobar and Inge van Hoppe. Additional thanks to Dariela Escobar for her help with creating the Illustrator files)

Step 1: Parts

To make four dog puzzles you need:

  • 1 sheet of 3mm MDF (at least 45x60cm)
  • 1 sheet of 6mm MDF (at least 45x60cm)
  • wood-glue
  • super glue
  • sandpaper
  • needles/pins/iron wire (for the glueing process)
  • 4 LEGO bricks
  • a Sphero (
  • a Sphero chariot ( (you can remove the part of the chariot which holds the phone, so that it becomes lighter)

You will also need a dog and some dog treats to play :)

Step 2: Cut Out the Wood

I attached the illustrator file for the puzzles. The left sheet is for the 3mm MDF (containing the four similar bottom layers) and the right sheet is for the 6mm MDF.

Cut out the files using the speed and power settings that fit with the lasercutter you are using. Make sure to test it out on a small piece of leftover MDF first.

Step 3: Assemble the Puzzles

After cutting out all the parts, figure out the order of each puzzle. Each puzzle has the same bottom layer. Use the image as a reference. I'm sure you will figure it out :)

Before gluing everything together, you might want to try and see if the bottom layer fits exactly on the Sphero and LEGO bricks, depending on accuracy of the lasercutter, you might need to sandpaper a few edges away so that it fits correctly on the Chariot.

Next, glue all the layers together, make sure you don't forget to add the square shaped slider of one of the puzzles before gluing the top layer (since this is the only puzzle in which a separate part is 'stuck' inside the puzzle). In order to make sure the layers are glued exactly on top of each other, stick some iron wire or pins through the holes and the top and bottom, all the way through all the layers.

Sandpaper away the burned sides and edges of the puzzles to make them nice and smooth (and to make sure that your dog does not have to bite/lick the burned parts, because I don't think this is very healthy for the dog).

Finally, for each puzzle, put 2 LEGO bricks on the back of the Sphero and put superglue on top. Then (quickly before the glue dries) attach the puzzle on top so that the bricks firmly stick together with the puzzles.

Connect the Sphero to the phone, assemble one of the puzzles on top of the Chariot, hide a cookie in it, call your dog, and play!


p.s. since I only own a Sphero 1.0 I noticed that the device became quite slow with the chariot and puzzles, but try it out with the Sphero 2.0, or try and put some more weight on the front of the chariot (for example with LEGO pieces) and it will go faster!