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This Treat-Dispensing Roomba Could End the War Between Dogs and Vacuums

You can apply to test the Tasty Reward Emission Apparatus Thingy (T.R.E.A.T.) in your own home.

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One of thousands of made-up holidays invented by marketers that’s actually worth celebrating is Pet Appreciation Week, which is happening now and goes on until Sunday. To help mark the occasion this year, engineers at iRobot have created a Roomba accessory that dispenses treats to help make the device a friend, and not an enemy, to your pupper.

Like oil and vinegar or kids and baths, dogs and vacuum cleaners do not mix, but it’s not exactly a mystery as to why your furry friend views the vacuum as an enemy. They’re extremely loud and bring all of that noise into the territory your dog is diligently working to protect: your home. To make matters worse, the entire point of a vacuum is to suck all the crumbs off your floors, which is essentially stealing your pet’s most reliable source of snacks.


In an effort to finally broker peace between pets and the vacuum cleaners so that floors can be cleaned without dogs frantically barking up a storm, some of iRobot’s animal-loving engineers have created an accessory for the Roomba, the company’s iconic robotic vacuum, called the “Tasty Reward Emission Apparatus Thingy? or T.R.E.A.T., for short. (Don’t you love it when engineers seemingly spend even more time on a clever acronym than they do on the thing itself?)


The basic idea of the T.R.E.A.T. attachment is to provide positive reinforcement while a Roomba is invading your dog’s territory. It replaces a Roomba’s dust collection bin with an automated dispenser that doles out kibble, or other small, dry dog treats, as the robovac autonomously navigates the floors of your home. Since the treat repository replaces the dust collection bin, the vacuum can’t clean and dispense snacks at the same time. It still generates lots of noise, so it may take a while for your dog to learn to love your robovac, but eventually, when your Roomba starts a cleaning routine, your pet won’t immediately fly into a rage.

iRobot isn’t selling the T.R.E.A.T. attachment as an official accessory, but interested pet owners in the United States and Canada can apply to test a prototype in their own homes.