A device to help us help dogs in the car

I love the way I have my wagon set up, with the back seat enclosed for the dogs. It keeps them from flying into the front seat in case of an accident, allows me to roll my front windows all the way down safely, and affords many other safety and security advantages. But the arrangement has made counter-conditioning and rewarding with food quite challenging, until now.

I cut a plastic funnel, and masking-taped it onto the spout from a large water jug. Then I used zip ties to secure the Conditioner and Reward Delivery Apparatus System (CRDAS, or “Curtis” for short) to the dog gate between the front and back seats. This worked fine all by itself, but the food tended to fly around the back seat, delaying the connection between trigger and conditioner, or behavior and reward, so I added a small plastic dish under Curtis, on the dog-side of the gate.

Now, when we see a motorcycle, or a dog barks, or we pass a recumbent bicycle (regular bikes are trivial now, but the recumbent ones are surely the Spawn of Satan, according to Rudy), food drops from Curtis into the Blue Oracle of Wisdom and Love (BOWL, or “Bowl” for short). Between Curtis and the Bowl, we are looking forward to a whole new level of automobile calmness.

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