The iCPooch Internet Pet Treat Dispenser is part of a new generation of interactive dog products targeted at keeping your dog happy when you are not at home during the day, or keeping you connected with your dog while you are on holiday. The ICPooch Internet Treat Dispenser is a device that connects you to your dog using video (for example, your iOS or Android tablet and/or phone), and also integrates a way to give your dog a treat when you are away from home. This lets you interact with your dog when you are at work, on vacation, or even stationed overseas utilizing a two-way video chat. It can help with separation anxiety, both that of your dog and also of the human! But does it work?
I heard Brooke Martin speak at the Better With Pets Summit in New York recently, and was fascinated about why, and how, this device was developed. Brooke sent me an iCPooch Internet Pet Treat Dispenser to try out at home. I was interested in what the setup process would be like, and Mort’s reaction to the screen and treat delivery. Want to know how to set up iCPooch? Keep reading!
In this article I will review the initial setup and functionality of the device itself. In an upcoming article I will discuss our dogs’ reaction to the device and how it functions as a way to communicate with your dog to complete the overall review.
Installing the iCPooch app
The setup takes about ten minutes, and is very easy to do. You begin by creating an account, and then follow simple steps to connect the app to the Internet and the hardware device using a flashing light. Follow the instructions that come with the device and/or app. The app alerts you when the device and app are successfully connected.You will receive steps on how to set everything up. The iCPooch app provides step-by-step instructions on how to connect your phone with the hardware.
And then you can drop a cookie!Now you are able to drop a cookie for your dog.
The setup was fairly straight forward using the included instructions and the helpful in-app setup instructions. Once you’ve downloaded the app via the Apple App Store or Android Google Play Store, the device will walk you through the installation, which includes holding your phone/tablet up to the bottom of the device to send the network information to the device. This took a couple of minutes but synced the network information without a hitch.
Running your tablet with the iCPooch
We tested the iCPooch using a variety of devices, including:
* iPhone (4S and 5S)
* iPad (generation 2 and 4)
* Android Nexus 4
* Android Nexus 7
The stand adjusted to accommodate each of the tablets (although the iPads only fit in landscape mode). The Nexus 7 fit perfectly in portrait mode, and this is preferable as it fits nicely without hanging over the edges as you can see here:
The Nexus 7 video camera was slightly obscured by the pieces used to hold it in place, but this was easily adjusted for the camera by moving the plastic pieces that hold the device.
Power and pairing with your phone
The device is powered via a USB plug (but also comes with a power to 120v adapter if you want to plug it into your wall). We tested with both USB connection and the 120v adapter and it worked well in both setups, although we did wish that the iCPooch did come with a USB slot to allow us to plug the tablet directly into the iCPooch base instead of needing a separate cord to charge the tablet.
An advantage of using a smaller tablet, like the Nexus 7 and quite possibly the iPad mini, is that you can plug in your device to a power source so it doesn’t need to run on battery. However when using an iPad (standard size) all day on battery, the device was still operating at the end of the day.
When pairing the devices to the base station, each of the devices worked flawlessly, although there were a couple of times where the Android Nexus 7 tablet didn’t wake up and display the video when testing remotely from work (although I may have needed to adjust some power saving settings on Android).
Using the iCPooch to drop treats
Once you’re all set up, it’s just a matter of loading treats, and testing the device connectivity to make sure it works when you’re outside of the house. To drop a treat you tap a button in the app either on your iPhone, Android phone, or tablet.
Once your devices are paired, you will be able to tap on a button using the app on your phone to deliver a treat. This worked right away, however we noticed that the treats did become jammed a few times.
Once set up, the iCPooch worked 98% of the time. The few times that the device jammed, it was usually due to us trying with different sized treats. When using the included iCPooch biscuits (which come in both large and small sizes) it worked great. When using smaller treats it was a bit trickier to load the machine without them spilling on the inside or getting knocked around while dispensing. We found the Merrick Jerky Chip Treat cookies worked well as well. Basically the bigger treats tend to cause fewer issues (as long as they still fit through the dispenser slot).
I was very happy with the device once it was set up. Over the next couple days, I would randomly connect to the remote iPad/Android tablet and often see Mort staring back at me through the camera waiting for a treat. So it also works great as a remote webcam once you run out of treats.
The video quality is great. Mort was very attentive to the screen and sound, and learnt quickly there was an association between the treats and the video, that it was something to pay attention to. I even saw him looking at the video, and then go and look at the front door (where he expects my husband to come home). It may have been a coincidence, but it may have been him understanding it was my husband on the screen.
The device sits in the iCPooch in a standby mode while you are away. When you boot up the app from afar, it does the same on your device at home. Then you can call your dog over (Mort cued in right away and was staring at the iCPooch immediately), and can start interacting.
For our testing, I was at home while my husband was at work and using the iCPooch to check in on all of us during the day. This let me see what was actually happening as a “dog”. It worked pretty well for us so far. We ran into a couple glitches with alerts blocking the device starting up, but for the most part it was dependable.
When you tap a button using the iCPooch app, a door opens up on the device and delivers a treat. This worked really well, except for one or two times when the treats were jammed. But we sorted out how to insert the treats into the unit more effectively and the device worked smoothly. So do some testing while you are at home to see if this will be an issue for you or not, and you should be able to sort out the kinks.
We have been testing the unit with several different kinds of treats, which I will go into further detail in our next review (I’m still testing different sizes and shapes!). Our initial findings is that it seems to work best with the icPooch All Natural Dog Cookies (small), or treats that are similar in size and shape to them. I especially like the size of the small ones linked here, but they also offer a larger size too.
A dog’s first reaction
Mort and Tig had very different reactions to the device. Tig was very wary of the entire setup, but would take a treat from the dispenser. Mort is absolutely fascinated by the thing. His reaction at first was apprehension, but he’s a little obsessed by it now that he knows food pops out. He is still a bit wary of it, being extremely curious, but actually sits by it waiting for it to turn on.
What’s next: I will share more about Mort’s reaction to the iCPooch
Mort certainly had a reaction to the introduction of the iCPooch in our home. Some of them made me laugh pretty hard! Make sure that you check back to learn what Mort thinks about the device, and how I can see it in use within our household. There will be videos and more in-depth discussion about interaction with the device in a series of photos and videos. So make sure you subscribe to the newsletter so you don’t miss it!
UPDATE: FIND PART TWO HERE!
Where you can purchase the iCPooch and Black Friday deals
You can find the iCPooch Internet Pet Treat Dispenser on Amazon!
Note: I was provided a iCPooch Treat Dispenser to try out at no cost. The opinions expressed in this article are genuine. This post contains affiliate links.
The DOGthusiast 2014 Holiday Gift Guide
Note: Some links in this review are affiliate links. DOGthusiast only shares products we feel would be of interest and/or value to our audience. We received the iCPooch in exchange for an honest review, which you can find here.
This is a very easy device to set up, both the hardware and the software you install on your phone and/or tablet. The fact you add your own device keeps the cost lower - this is especially handy if you have older devices that you are no longer using on a regular basis that you can devote to this application. It's an amazing idea to be able to check in and interact with your dog when you're not home. Love this so far.
Software installation and setup9
Hardware setup and quality10