Treat-Dispensing Agility & Mind Puzzles to Improve Pet Behavior | Canine Innovation

canine innovation mind puzzle improve pet behavior

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 109 - Canine Innovation

Treat-Dispensing Agility & Mind Puzzles to Improve Pet Behavior | Canine Innovation

Yes, we know that treat-dispensing agility & mind puzzles are helpful to pet parents who want to improve their pets’ mental health and behavior.

But did you know that it’s now possible for your dog to do them even without you around?

As per Alexandra Smith, who founded Canine Innovation,

“My goal is to drive health and wellness in the pet industry through innovative and creative solutions.”

Developing a Smart Agility Course With Canine Innovation

developing a smart agility course with canine innovation

Picture this: a regular agility course that serves as a smart course at the same time.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

That’s exactly what Canine Innovation is working on right now: an automated treat-dispensing agility course just for pets.

Going into the details, Alexandra described that it consists of sensors and comes with an app. The app takes the data when your dogs use it so you can see how fast they’re learning and other relevant information.

When asked about how it came to be, the pet parent shared,

“It was an issue in my dog when she was left alone for a long time. She displayed problem behavior. I realized that it was because of anxiety, so I thought, ‘How could I occupy her and cure her of her anxiety?’”

Wanting to resolve the behavioral issue, Alexandra ordered a plastic puzzle to occupy her poodle’s attention.

But even though the puzzle was helpful in providing mental stimulation, it had no way of helping her dog with physical energy.

This led Alexandra to use a regular classic hurdle.

“I would have her [my dog] jump over it and then give her a treat. Jump, give her a treat. When I was sick, I would go to lay down, and she would jump over and then look at me for a treat… So, I realized, she was really telling me to combine them for her. So that’s what I did.”

Alexandra’s Journey With Canine Innovation

Having had the idea in April 2021, Alexandra immediately went for a patent. 

“I couldn’t find that online, and I realized this could really help in a lot of ways. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much could be done with it, even in the future,”

she said.

Fortunately, some influential people in the pet industry anchored and mentored her throughout her journey.

She also credits these individuals for helping her further improve on the idea to what it is today.

“What really drove me is that my dog really wants it in my house. I know other dogs do, and I know that there are people who aren’t able to give their dogs what they deserve. And I definitely want those dogs to get that attention, whether their owners have the time or not.”



Learn more about Canine Innovation!

Visit their website at

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Send us a message at [email protected]!

Alexandra: Hello, I’m Alexandra Smith, and you’re tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Who are you and how are you innovating and helping animals? 

Alexandra: My goal is to drive health and wellness in the pet industry through innovative and creative solutions.

And what we’re working on right now is an automated treat-dispensing agility course for pets. So, if you picture a regular agility course, like in the competitions right now, it’s very similar, except it’s a smart course.

So, it’s lined with sensors. And it also has an app that will take the data from the course when your dog is using it and see their learning speed and tell you how fast they’re learning and some other information about your dog.

And we’ll actually use a separate treat dispenser, so, an existing dispenser that some of you might already have at home.

And so, when the dog goes through a hurdle, then a treat will dispense automatically. And then as your dog gets better at it, then you can add more obstacles and add the whole course and even have your dog exercising while you’re at work or school or if you’re unable to exercise them for any other reason.

Chris: That’s super cool.

So, your goal is that my dog can actually do the agility without me?

Alexandra: Absolutely, yes.

So, I saw that it was an issue of—in my dog that when she was left alone for a long time, she displayed problem behavior.

So, I realized that that’s because of anxiety. So, I thought, how could I occupy her and cure her of her anxiety?

And— started with really, a puzzle that I ordered. If you’ve seen a plastic puzzle where the dog has to move pieces to get something. I ordered her one of those when I was sick, actually.

And I was in bed for like three weeks. And I felt like she— was just—displaying problem behaviors for the first time. She’s a great dog. She’s a poodle. And— so, she started to solve it pretty quickly.

And I thought it was still helping with her mental stimulation, but she had no way to get out her physical energy.

And so, I would use a hurdle.

I don’t know if you’ll be able to see it, but just a regular classic hurdle— on PVC pipes. And so, I would have her jump over it and then give her a treat. Jump, give her a treat—

So, I was sick. So, I would go to lay down and she would jump over and then look at me for a treat.

Chris: She had you outsmarted.

Alexandra: So, then I would give her her puzzle, and I realized she was really telling me to combine them for her.

So, that’s what I did, yes.

Chris: So now, Alexandra, have you developed products like this before? Are you an IT person, you know, software? What’s your background?

Alexandra: I’m learning a lot of that now.

I worked in just a law firm for three years, and then I was in school for creative writing. Actually, when I thought of this, so, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I considered going back into the legal field, but it was a little bit— boring for me.

So, this really gives me an awesome outlet for my creative energy where it can really run free. Which, I think it does the same for my dog.

Chris: Of course, it does, right, you developed it for your dog. So, how is it going? What have been some of the challenges along the way?

Alexandra: The biggest challenge is— as a new entrepreneur, learning all the different parts and how to put them together.

And it’s also been the most fun and— the best growth— personal growth experience and the most difficult, of actually executing—is the actual development of the product.

Right now, we’re developing at the University of Texas in Dallas. So, at the end of the summer, we should have some—out for beta testing, so that I can get some—with future customers, so that we can get their feedback.

We’ll see when we can get it out to everyone because I can’t wait for all dogs to use it. At the end of the summer, we should have some to get started collecting data and getting it ready.

So, the software they’re also working on at University of Texas at Dallas. And right now, we’re going to just get the basic functions going.

And next— in the fall semester, we’ll develop it a lot more to make it more consumer-friendly.

So, it will take in all the data from your dog’s behavior.

Chris: So, Alexandra, I mean, you’re obviously still—you’re one year into the journey, but what have you learned about yourself so far in the process?

Alexandra: Definitely, I’ve learned that— having to figure out how to put together all the different parts of the company, is really great for my creative energy, and it actually helps with just my personal well-being.

I just feel better. And I just— I honestly compare it to my dog using the course all the time because I feel like just having a great puzzle to solve that’s never-ending is just really rewarding and awesome.

And I think it makes me feel better and reduces my anxiety too, just like it does for my dog— her puzzle.

So, I think it’s been a great growth experience, too. I’ve learned more in this year, than I’ve learned the 26 years before that combined, I think.

Chris: So, where can people go learn more information and hopefully, start following you to get updates on when this is going to be released.

Alexandra: So, on our website, CANINEINNOVATION.COM there you can find— if you want to get involved in the beta testing, you can get on the list for that and hopefully we’ll have enough to get you on.

And then also, if you’re interested as an investor, we are raising funds and you can also, get the CR Investor portal there.

Chris: I’m super excited for you as well. And I know our viewers and listeners are super excited to get the product in their hands.

So, they’re going to have to wait till the fall, right? That’s what you’re saying. Maybe the fall, but I can see so many possibilities and potentials for this.

So, as we wrap up the show, I’ll just remind all of our Dooberteers, I mean, look at Alexandra. She had an idea and within a year she’s already very close to bringing this to market. So, I’m sure many of you have ideas in your head that you want to bring to market.

Come on the show, we’d love to talk to you about it,  love to help you along your journey, introduce you to some people.

So, if you’ve got an idea like Alexandra did go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW, we’d love to have you on and talk about it and see what we can do.

And in the meanwhile, of course I would remind people, check out DOOBERT.COM because you can be a volunteer and help those rescue animals get to where they’re going.

So, Alexandra, thank you again for coming on. I really enjoyed it.

Alexandra: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.

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