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Computer-controlled dog treat dispenser

This project retrofits an existing off-the-shelf dog treat dispenser with new electronics that allow it to be controlled by a computer.


When performing canine operant conditioning studies, the delivery of the reward can be a limiting factor of the study. While there are a few commercially available options for automatically delivering rewards, they generally require manual input, such as using a remote control, in accordance with the experiment script. This means that human reaction times and transmission distances can cause interruptions to the flow of the experiment. The potential for development of non-supervised conditioning studies is limited by this same factor. To remedy this, we retrofitted an off-the-shelf treat dispenser with new electronics that allow it to be remotely controllable as well as act as an experiment computation, data storage, and networking center. We present a fully integrated dispenser driver board with a complementary Raspberry Pi. With rather simple modifications, the commercial treat dispenser can be modified into a computer-controlled dispenser for canine cognition experiments or for other forms of canine training or games.

Demonstration video


The software and hardware designs are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-SA 4.0). You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

Under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.


This project was conducted by the Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab and funded by the National Science Foundation. For questions, please contact the developer Walker Arce ( or the principal investigator Jeffrey R. Stevens (


Arce, W., & Stevens, J. R. (2020). Developing a computer-controlled treat dispenser for canine operant conditioning. Journal of Open Hardware, 4(1), 6.

Project Mentions


Open Neuroscience

Dataset Metadata

The following table is necessary for this dataset to be indexed by search engines such as Google Dataset Search.

property value
name Computer-controlled dog treat dispenser reliability testing dataset
description The dataset from the paper [Developing a computer-controlled treat dispenser for canine operant conditioning]( We tested two treat dispensers 100 times each with 10 tests of increasing dispensing targets from 1 to 10 treats. Each row of the data file gives the expected and actual number of treats dispensed for a single trial.
property value
name CC BY-SA 4.0


This repository stores the documentation and firmware for controlling Treat & Train dispensers via USB or Raspberry Pi.







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