The Thurber Feeder 5000 Helps To Slow Fido Down

Does your dog eat too fast? [Thurber] does, and he even chokes occasionally while snarfing down the kibble — naturally this worried his owners, so [Jason] stepped up to the challenge to slow him down. Introducing the Thurber Feeder 5000.

[Jason] is a seasoned maker, and has built a few CNC machines in his day — he’s even automated an Etch a Sketch with stepper motors. Making the Thurber Feeder 5000 was a piece of cake. He designed the entire thing in 3D CAD and then used his home-made CNC machine to cut out all the parts, 3D printing a few of the more complex mounting brackets.

It’s a fairly simple device consisting of a food hopper (seal-able to keep Thurber away), a stepper motor and an auger bit borrowed from a chocolate fondue fountain. The stepper goes through a 6:1 belt pulley ratio which gives it a whopping 200 oz-in of torque to push those kibbles and bits through the feeding pipe. The speed is adjustable by programming the Parallax Propeller, so once they found an acceptable eating speed [Jason] set it as default. A single button turns it on, and while the machine is running it lights up — turning off when little [Thurber] is done.

The device has worked so well it’s actually taught [Thurber] to eat slower when he’s eating from a regular bowl! Lucky pup!

30 thoughts on “The Thurber Feeder 5000 Helps To Slow Fido Down

  1. Excellent idea! It is unfortunate that dogs typically scarf as much and as fast as possible because of how they used to grow up in the wild. They never knew when their next meal would come so they would eat a lot and eat quickly to stay ahead of competition. It’s also why if you leave for 30 minutes, their dishes are empty and they are hungry and raiding garbage. They can’t be left for long at all.

    10,000 years of domesticating dogs haven’t solved the eating problem.

    I wonder if this could be adapted to run automatically on specific time of the day? if the house has pet door* for dog(s) to get out to do business, automatic feeder would help allow owners to leave for a few days without needing to find dog-sitters or pay kennel to hold them.

    *check ordinances, often time unleashed dogs are permitted in the rural farm but not in cities.

    PS first post?

    1. @Genki ” It’s also why if you leave for 30 minutes, their dishes are empty and they are hungry and raiding garbage. They can’t be left for long at all.”

      Not all dogs. Mine never raided the trash for anything besides used kleenex.

  2. Why are all the [names] in brackets? Is this a new style of writing? “[Thurber] does, and he even chokes occasionally while snarfing down the kibble — naturally this worried his owners, so [Jason]”.

    1. “New”? They’ve been doing this since I started reading a couple of years ago. If memory serves me correctly, their first article even used the square brackets around the names.

  3. There is a passive device for this, and it gives the dog lots of fun play to boot.
    A Kong toy. It’s a “ball” with holes and baffles that holds kibble.
    Smells like food…roll it around…a piece or two falls out…yum…more rolling and another reward… No way to bolt it all down and then be bored.

    1. Unless you have a Staffy cross, takes 5 minutes to empty anything, then spends the rest of the time trying to EAT the toy. I don’t even trust the black “extreme” ones… He learnt that it empties quickest if he picks it up then drops it onto the ground from as high as he can.

      I did drill a couple of holes in a big hard plastic ball, he can’t chew it and it takes him longer to knock the treats out.

      1. Haha, the lab I had growing up would patiently roll it around with his nose. The mutt that came later tosses it–not just drop, literally hurls it across the room. It’s funny because when you put his kibble in a bowl he’s a super fussy eater.

        Kongs used to advertise a “if your pet destroys it, your money back” until a customer gave one to a lion. Now the packaging tells this exact story and ends with “So we call it “*almost* indestructable.” :)

      2. My roommate has a large dog that as a puppy would demolish dog toys in seconds, we would take bets on how long the toy would last. He was given one of the large RED Kongs, four days later he was in the vet ER.
        X-rays showed the small end of that Kong in his stomach… $3,400.00 later he was back to normal except for the Zipper on his belly. (foot long row of stitches).
        We found two things that made good toys for this hundred pound bundle of love…
        The black Kong he has had three of them the first going back to 2010 and they are barely scratched even on the small end.
        The other toy is a single ply go kart racing tire. He did manage to destroy it, but not until he had been chewing on it for eight months.

    2. With larger breeds controlling the time and amount can be a big deal, and you generally don’t want to exercise a large breed before or especially after eating because it can cause bloat. Any deep chested breed like greyhounds, mastiffs etc are susceptible. I own a mastiff and I’ve been tossing a similar idea around for quite some time now. This is a good idea. Controlling the rate of water can also be very useful in preventing bloat. *hint hint*

  4. I have a G-Shep that is 5months old and had the same problem when we brought him home. We use a kong “wobbler” (http://www.kongcompany.com/products/for-dogs/interactive/wobbler-2/wobbler/) to slow him down and it works great. After the first 2 times he ate out of it he had it figured out and now he can empty it pretty quick but he can only get a mouthful out at a time which is the whole point. Worth checking out if your pup has the same problem. G-Sheps are very prone to bloat which can kill a dog so solving this problem was a must for us.

  5. Does this have a provision to pop the front of the unit open and pull the auger out for cleaning? Wouldn’t take much since the reaction force is towards the drive unit in the back.

    Also, the utility of these is kind of limited to animals that play nice – our cats are geriatric so that things like [Tony] posted don’t happen but I’ve known a lot of rowdy cats and nearly all dogs that won’t rest until they’ve cracked open the “holy-container-of-good-things-to-eat-that-stupid-hoomans-try-to-keep-me-out-of”.

    1. Yes, with four screws the front panel comes off, and the front of the auger tube and auger just pull right out. It’s all press-fit together. If the whole auger tube or food hopper need cleaning, you just take the back off the same way. It was only intended for dry food, so it shouldn’t need cleaning *too* often.

  6. I have the opposite problem with my 1yr old pup (basset/husky/australian shep). He will shun his food if it means he gets pettings or attention. even when there is no attention given, he’ll ignore his food unless we lock it up with him in his crate. Our older dog (great dane/g.shep) never has this issue – he will eat at a nice pace, and sometimes takes a break. I’ve even had the pup wake me up at two or three am when he finally decides he might as well have supper now…

    1. Yes, and nothing bought cheaply from China has ever harmed a pet. ;)

      Seriously though, I did look around at automatic feeders, and they all just dumped the whole serving at a preset time. I wanted something that would trickle it out, and wasn’t able to find one like that.

      It was really fun to make, and made for an awesome weekend project – we spent a good chunk of time just laughing at how overkill it was. How many dogs have a feeder emblazoned with their name in large pulsing letters?

  7. Where did you get the auger? Did you print it with a 3D printer? Or buy it? If you bought it where? I have a Chihuahua mix that I is have the same problems of eating too fast as well. This is cool and looks like it would do the trick. Thanks.

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