We used clicker training, and it always impressed me how even the oldest of dogs could learn new tricks (har har) if you found what motivated it, and then incentivized a specific action based on that motivation.
Even more fun was finding a really smart dog who you could teach to do the craziest stuff. Had one who probably learned 25ish tricks in his short time at the shelter. He was so motivated to learn. It was a pretty easy sell to the right adopter when you showed them you could point your finger at the dog, yell "HANDS UP" and he'd sit up with his paws in the air, you'd yell "BANG" and he'd fall over dead. How could you ever resist?
Example (not my video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lky1xsqYGUo
I also taught her verbs and nouns, and could say "point ball" and she would point to her ball, or "fetch ball" and she would fetch it. Same with "bone", "rope" and a few more toys.
Do this repetitiously until they start getting used to putting their paws up then start working on getting them to sit like that for a few seconds. As a reminder lots of clicks and treats to let them know they are doing what you want. At this point you can start introducing the voice commands.
After they have stay down, you can move into "bang" by once again holding a treat in a way that they fall to the ground, then immediately click and treat again repeatedly. Then you start working on getting them to roll over in the same motion. It's ok to sort of push them with your hands a bit to show them the physical motion you are looking for as long as you click and treat in little increments to show them that what they're doing is "good."
Probably too long winded, but if you look up "bang" dog tricks on YouTube there are a lot of handy guides. My final advice is to pay attention to how much fun you think your dog is having. Some love mental stimulation, others not as much. If the dog is losing interest, then it's probably time to call it quits for the day, as they'll stop thinking the training is fun.
Really, it's quite humorous how close human psychology is to that of my dog.
Once saw a dog that only wanted to perform the tricks in the training ground but not for example at the owners home: the dog had assumed that the combination of (command for the trick && location+training ground) was the trigger. That was fun to see. Other examples included dog trainers that could only successfully give the command while wearing the red coat he was wearing while training the dog, etc.
That said, having raised a puppy that was destined for guide dog training, the trick is early on getting the dog to understand that you are asking it to do stuff. That is a big part of puppy training, and once trained, the dog will look for you to ask it to do new things, and knows that if it figures them out quickly you will reward it. It has been one of the more amazing experiences in my life.
 Seriously, that is what the Guide dog folks call it when a dog washes out of the program, in our case it was for a skin allergy which would have been undetectable for a blind person to notice, not for his lack of trainability.
Great article! As a behavior analyst, let me name the research-supported behavioral interventions used here - stimulus control (pairing the word "light" with the behavior), most-to-least physical prompting (forcing the paw on the light), and differential reinforcement (reward for pressing the light; no reward for not pressing the light).
2. Train dog to press button when bell rings
3. Connect bell to the internet
4. SaaS dog selfies
Don't do this to the poor dog.
Another pro-tip I picked up is using match-boxes for storing electronics (resistors, connectors, small modules). They are cheap and you can tape/glue them together to create arrays of small boxes. The sides are clear thus perfect to write what they contain.
The author over-complicated his solution, but that doesn't make it invalid.
it uses an accelerometer to detect the motion of the washer. no need to dissect your large home applicances!
Cats are not as magnetized to treats as dogs are, they tend to want to keep their feet at the same place.
That said: getting a cat to roll around on command is a great feeling.
edit: author has a kid, congrats
Curious, have you read anything / have any concerns about introducing your kids to screens that early? I'm so afraid I'm rewiring her brain too young when I see her staring at my phone.
In my view, it is probably more important to control the specific activities more than the blanket "screen time".
In moderation its ok. No ads on phone, and no screen before bed. Some basic games and some kids shows. She knows howto navigate Total Commander and just started recognizing some letters.
And she drops phone for playground or for play with friends any time.
There are tons of examples, tutorials, libraries available for Arduino, and keep in mind once you're done with prototyping you can just buy the Atmega328P (5$) and if you add an ESP8266 (5$) to the mix you can make anything wireless.
edit: Added. Thank you.
SMS is all very interesting but it is not 2013 any more so there is no need to send an SMS (paying people on the way) when you can just send an email. It still pops on the person's phone as a new message (at least in Android world, no idea how those iPhones work). Email also has better delivery, speaking as someone in a poor reception area I cannot reliably receive messages, however, wifi works pretty good at home and I can get emails with that whereas wifi does me no favours for SMS.
A few years ago I did have SMS for my own version of an uptime monitor, however, when my credits ran out I didn't miss the SMS messages at all (my script also emailed). That led to my 'discovery' that being able to send an SMS from a bit of code might be impressive however it is also not that useful in the first world. Maybe this product is better suited to dogs in the developing world somewhere.
"so we take this awesome system, it takes pictures that we upload it to dropbox, a perfectly acceptable destination for pictures. and then, for some strange reason, instead of sending an email or just leaving it there in dropbox or doing any of the other great things we can do with pictures, we make an MMS"
It's not really a messaging system, it's a push notification system that everyone who has a smartphone is subscribed to.
You probably have a phone that can accept MMS, and a corresponding phone number.
Lets say I turn this into some kind of guard dog system (bear with me). Imagine someone wanders onto my property. I'd rather get a text/mms than an email which might get lost in my inbox.
Individual systems might be great at specific things (motion detection, security systems, etc.).
Dogs are living beings, they can be trained by average humans to do new things that your typical security system never imagined.
That is what I thought. But actually, in practice, once one has moved from some old Nokia brick to a modern smartphone, the assumption is wrong. SMS has its place for sending someone a quick text but it is going the way of FAX, to be only used in some arcane circumstances.
With SMS the delivery was not as good as email. As mentioned, there is perfectly good wifi where I live but marginal phone signal. In theory I could find some remote mountain where there is only 2G but even then emails get delivered at least in header form.
The other thing is that when I had my SMS notifications I had to buy credits in advance. If the monitored sites were completely down and notifications were being sent to three people then those credits could run out quickly. So there was that unnecessary dependency on a third party service that had some credits to pay for in order for it to work. Totally non-strategic!
If we think of the dog and the selfies, say the dog just happens to tap the button every few seconds. That could be expensive with SMS but free on email.
You can also build some backup into the email approach, you can cc your private email as well as email your work one. There is none of the 140 character message length nonsense either.
Plus, who doesn't check their phone every 6 minutes or so?
To be slightly unfair, TFA is marketing spam. Even the box is over-engineered, you can get wifi PTZ cameras for small change on eBay and a few of them have an input for a switch so you can take 'selfies' with them, no wheel reinvention needed.
You can't have push notifications for certain subjects or email addresses? If you're going to make home security part of this, you might as well set up your email to be accommodating to it as well. If you're gonna use email.
"How I taught my dog to thwack his paw on a big red button in response to a keyword signal" might be a better title.
"Does the dog understand what death is? Is the dog aware of it's own mortality?"
- I text into her number while out of the house
- Twilio sends HTTP request to Arduino
- Piezo buzzer sounds
- Kaira has to hold the button for X seconds
- Servo rotates auto treat dispenser
But the overly ambitious title remained.