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Buoyant motivational object

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Buoyant motivational object

A buoyant motivational object used to play with a dog or child. While afloat, the motivational object comprises of an above-water section located above the surface of the water and an underwater section located below the surface of the water, and it is comprised of a base body with at least one biting or gripping area shaped for pick-up by a dog's muzzle or a human hand, and the biting or gripping area is at least partially located in the above-water section while the balance or gravity point of the motivational object is located in the underwater section.

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USPTO Applicaton #: #20130312670 - Class: 119707 (USPTO) - 11/28/13 - Class 119 
Animal Husbandry > Exercise Or Amusement Device >Toy, Lure, Fetch, Or Related Device

Inventors: Ekard Lind

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20130312670, Buoyant motivational object.

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This application is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/403,241, filed on Mar. 12, 2009, which claims priority to German Patent Application No. 10 2008 013 937.8-23, filed Mar. 12, 2008. The specifications of the above referenced applications are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.


This invention relates to animal training devices, and more specifically to buoyant animal training devices.


Buoyant motivational objects or toys have been known for many years. They are used in a great variety of water games that are played with children and dogs alike. They also play an important role in the training of working dogs for hunting or even search and rescue. One example of a buoyant motivational object is the “dog training device” described in German patent DE 103 23 763 A1. This device consists of a floating body in the form of an ellipsoid that has a consistency less dense than water. Each of the two opposite longitudinal ends of the device has a rope with a spherical weight on its outer end attached to it. The spherical weights ensure that the floating dog training device always lies flat in the water with its central axis parallel to the horizontal water-surface.

The shape and floatation of this dog training device is intended to encourage a hunting dog to grasp the device in the middle which is desirable when teaching a dog how to correctly retrieve (e.g. a hunted duck from the water). If the dog would grasp the device on one of the outer ends, the weights would make retrieval of the device more difficult both in water and on land. In addition, the particular geometry of the aforementioned dog hunting device is intended to break the dog\'s habit of shaking its coat after leaving the water with the retrieved device. If the dog would follow its instinct to shake the remaining water of its coat, the weights attached to the ropes would impact against its head, muzzle or chest. To prevent this unpleasant sensation, the dog will learn to suppress its instinct to shake off until a fiter the training device is released from the animal\'s mouth.

One drawback to this training device is the fact that it is difficult to identify by the dog while the object is in the water. The eyes of a swimming dog are only slightly above the surface of the water and this makes it rather difficult for the dog to detect the dog training device in its shallow floating position. Even with only slight waves in the water, the dog effectively loses sight of the training device. This often ends in the loss of an unrecovered device, which is both expensive and a very frustrating training experience for the dog.

In addition, there are many non-floating training objects that have been used. Examples include U.S. Pat. No. 3,830,202, DE 29819615 U1, or DE 29917816 U1. These non-floating objects exist in many different variations. They come in shapes and materials tailored to their particular purpose. Sometimes they are also made of materials with lower density than water to allow them to stay afloat in the water, even if that is not the primary purpose of that particular device. The devices illustrated in the above three references have a similar limitation; the objects may be difficult for a dog to recognize while the object is floating in the water. As a result, using this kind of device in or near water bears substantial risk device loss and a frustrating training experience for the dog.


The challenge of designing a buoyant motivational object with good recognizability in the water is met by distributing the device\'s density so that a high-point of at least 4 cm, preferably at least 8 cm, more preferably of at least 10 cm above the surface of the water is created when the object is in a floating, static state. The elevated position of at least one point of the motivational object leads to a significantly improved visibility of the floating motivational object, even from the unfavorable visual angle of a swimming dog whose eyes are only a few centimeters above the surface of the water. The problem of insufficient recognizability could be solved by simply increasing the dimensions of the motivational object, i.e., by adding a sufficiently large ball or by using a larger ellipsoid with homogeneous density. Such solution however would render the motivational object useless since a single, large, voluminous and compact body lacks an adequate biting or gripping area and that makes it inappropriate as a motivational object or toy.

The inventions density distribution solves this problem by leveraging a component of higher density on one end of the motivational device than on the other. When used in the water, the component with higher density drops underneath the surface of the water thereby erecting the lower density end of the motivational object to a high-point well above the surface of the water.

This self erecting effect keeps the motivational object from tipping over, ensuring that its high-point remains visible to the swimming dog even under difficult conditions such as poor visibility or water having waves that would obscure the view of the dog. As the risk of loss of the motivational object decreases, the motivation for the dog increases. Another advantage of the invention\'s design is that the elevated high-point of the floating motivational object seesaws back and forth in the water which stimulates a dog\'s motion-oriented vision and thus its hunting drive far better than a prey substitute object that is barely moving.

A preferred form of the motivational object according to the invention comprises of an elongated base body with a longitudinal axis whereas the dimension of the body along the longitudinal axis is at least two, preferably at least three times greater than the base body\'s maximum dimension perpendicular to its longitudinal axis, whereas the longitudinal axis of the base body when in a floating. static state, is at an angle of at least 45°, preferably at least 60° with the horizontal surface of the water.

This preferred form utilizing an elongated base body results in enhanced recognizability in the water and it allows for a comfortable grasp of the object with a hand or a dog\'s muzzle well above the surface of the water, even if the motivational object is only partially erected.

Other conceivable versions of a motivational object according to the invention may include designs where the angle between the base body along its longitudinal axis and the horizontal surface of the water This would result in an always “tilted” motivational object that is deliberately kept out of equilibrium. This would result in an always “tilted” motivational object that floats at an angle not equal to 90° even in completely calm water conditions.

In a further refinement of the invention, the addition of a support body that is extending radially outward from the rod-shaped base body is proposed, wherein one part of it would be partially submerged while another part of it would be above the surface of the water when the motivational object floats. The surface of the water would divide the support body into two parts, one above-water section and an underwater section. This support body fulfills the function of a flotation device which provides an additional supporting force or a righting momentum around the balance point to guarantee an always erect position of the buoyant motivational object. An additional benefit of this design is added stabilization which helps the motivational object to quickly return to equilibrium even after exposure to strong interfering or displacing forces such as strong waves.

In another embodiment of the invention, at least one supporting body and the base body would be integrally combined for simple and cost efficient manufacturability. Alternatively, at least one support body could be detachable from the base body; providing the benefit of interchangeability between different types of supporting bodies with different floatation or displacement characteristics that alter the motivational devices\' equilibrium. The same benefit of achieving variable floatation characteristics is also attained by providing for a number of different: mounting positions in which the support body can be attached to the base body.

A particularly advantageous flotation characteristic is produced if the mean material density of the support body is lower than the mean material density of the base body, especially in the submerged area, and if the difference in density between base body and support body is at least 30% to 50%.

A preferred method of connecting a detachable support body to a base body is achieved by combining an elongated rod-like base body with a torus or disc-shaped support body. The latter can be clamped on and/or snapped on and/or by using a thread, screwed onto the base body. In this embodiment a design of a rotation-symmetric base body that has an outer surface with threads or a wave contour along its longitudinal axis could be used.

When using a ballast body attached to or integrated into the base body near the end of its submerged section, with such ballast body having a mean density greater than the mean density of the base body, especially if the ballast body\'s density is greater than 1, the base body exhibits an exceptionally stable flotation behavior.

An example of an offset arrangement between a ballast body and a base body is a connection via rope that has the base body attached on one end and the ballast body on the other. The ballast body itself can be either entirely made of metal or preferably of a metallic core surrounded by an elastomeric coating, preferably from rubber which makes it easy and safe for a dog to pick up.

The base body should be made of rubber formed into a strong and rigid body as this provides the desired bite and grip characteristics. In contrast, it is desirable to manufacture the support body from lighter materials such as plastic foam material, preferably polyurethane foam.

Although there are many conceivable design possibilities for the motivational object according to the invention, notable implementations for the gripping or holding area above the surface of the water include rod, hook, shovel, bow and bar-shaped implementations.

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