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dog by autotrainer

March 9, 2014

PetSafe® Expert

PetSafe® Guest

PetSafe Is Proud to Present the AutoTrainer!


The AutoTrainer is an automatic, reward-based training device used to solve problem barking and calm dogs while their owners are away. This patented device is the first of its kind on the market, utilizing an automatic training system featuring sequences of tones that teach dogs to remain calm and quiet.

The system features:

autotrainer collarautotrainer collar
  • The AutoTrainer base unit, which dispenses kibble and records the dog’s bark history throughout the day
  • The AutoTrainer collar, which transmits the dog’s barks to the base unit using Perfect Bark dual detection technology
  • 2 kibble disks, small and large
  • Power adaptor cord
  • 2 CR collar batteries
  • Full instruction manual

Read on to hear more about the AutoTrainer from the experts.

In the Beginning:

Dr. Ian DunbarDr. Ian Dunbar

Dr. Ian Dunbar, Co-Inventor

Years ago, during a chance meeting on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco, Dr. Ian Dunbar and Dr. John Watson struck up a conversation about whether marking a dog’s bark and immediately interrupting a progressive tone sequence that predicts food delivery would reduce the frequency of barking and number of barks per day.

Dr. John WatsonDr. John Watson

Dr. John Watson, Co-inventor

Back in the Bay Area, Dr. Watson promptly engineered a computerized prototype, which the good Doctors tested on barking dogs, primarily at the Berkeley Humane Society. Amazingly, not only did the tone sequence itself drastically to reduce the frequency and number of barks but also, hyperactivity many dogs would pace less and instead, settle down next to their electronic buddy.

Ian raised the question of finding an automatic reward-based procedure that could be built into a device to help dogs stop habitual barking. After a few initial tries, we zeroed in on a procedure that would guide a dog's attention to the anticipation of food with the help of a series of tones. To our pleasant surprise, dogs not only learned to inhibit barking but seemed to calm down noticeably when the device was available.

- Dr. John Watson, Berkeley CA

Development and Testing:

Toni and SadieToni and Sadie

Toni Mark with dog, Sadie

Toni Mark, KPA-CTP, Training and Behavior Education Specialist, PetSafe

Here at PetSafe, we have extraordinarily high expectations for our training equipment. We pay incredibly close attention to science-based learning theory and the trends regarding what makes pet owners more or less likely to train their pets. Utilizing all of this information, we set out to make some of the best training products on the market.

We knew what we wanted out of the AutoTrainer - We wanted an electronic training device that used positive reinforcement to train a dog to be quiet and calm during the day. We also wanted it to be easy to use and automated.

Although we knew what we wanted a while ago, the development has taken longer than expected. What was the hold up? Our high expectations. We went through several rounds of prototypes, samples and testing rounds that weren’t perfect. We looked at every single angle and every crevice in the device to make sure it was exactly what we wanted. Even little things that you might not expect- like the shape of the bowl and the strength of the suction cups on the bottom of the machine- were important to us in development. We required that the tones and sequences be perfect, and the shape and size be unique to the function of the machine. We tested several versions of two very important functions of the machine: the muzzle detector (which detects whether the dog ate the kibble) and bark detector (to tell the machine if the dog barked).

Although we could barely contain our excitement in getting this product to market, we continuously held ourselves back - We wouldn’t launch until we had exactly what we wanted. When we hit roadblocks, we wouldn’t compromise. After all, the dogs depend on us! Now we’re ready to launch! After months and months of testing, countless days spent reading logical flowcharts of sequences, and an immeasurable amount of hours touching, handling, and perfecting this machine, we are ready!

The AutoTrainer is a training product that we are incredibly committed to and excited about, and we are thrilled to watch it transform the lives of many pets!

How It Works:

Michelle and JinksMichelle and Jinks

Michelle Mullins and dog, Jinks

Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, Training and Behavior Education Manager, PetSafe

The AutoTrainer works to decrease barking by marking and rewarding the dog for increasingly longer periods of quiet. The method of rewarding incremental steps on the way to a goal behavior is called shaping. To a shape a behavior, the criteria is slowly increased to allow the dog to be successful and earn a reward.

If unsuccessful, the behavior is simply ignored or a non-reward marker is used. A non-reward marker is often an innocuous sound (although it can be any stimuli) the dog learns through association that indicates no reward is coming.

The AutoTrainer begins with a series of tones culminating in a marker tone that results in the dispensing of a bit of kibble (the reward). It slowly increases the length of the tone sequence so the dog will be rewarded for being quiet for longer and longer amounts of time. If the dog barks during a tone sequence the machine will emit a different tone as a non- reward marker and cycle into a shorter sequence to provide the opportunity for the dog to successfully earn a reward at a level at which he was previously successful. Keeping the shaping successful for the dog allows him to learn what behavior is rewarded. Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated, so he will be very likely to continue the quiet behavior that earned the kibble.

Shaping engages the dog to make a choice and have an effect on the consequence of his behavior. Many dogs will be immediately comfortable with the AutoTrainer. However some may need a little acclimation time to get used to the sights and sounds of the unit, as well as some initial introduction to the shaping process. We have included a Teach Me mode and instructions on how to acclimate your dog to the machine, and tips on helping him learn that shaping is fun and rewarding! It won’t take long before your dog will on his way to quiet, calm dog we know he can be!

When, Where and How Can You Find An AutoTrainer?

dog with autotrainerdog with autotrainer

The AutoTrainer will make its debut at the GLOBAL Pet Expo this March in Orlando, FL, retailing at $199.99. Check with your local retailer, trainer, or veterinarian for availability. Stop by the Petsafe Booth, number 2753, for more details!

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