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Obedience school for Aibo

Owners of Sony's Aibo robotic dog can now program their pooches via the $500 Aibo Master Studio software suite.

For Sony Aibo owners, obedience school has taken on a whole new meaning.

The owners of the Aibo ERS-210--Sony's second-generation robot dog--can now program their pooches via the $500 Aibo Master Studio software suite.

The software, released Thursday, is installed on a PC, which allows Aibo owners to create programs that include commands for the dog to follow. The programs are then downloaded onto Sony's proprietary flash memory card, called the Memory Stick, and inserted into an Aibo.

Owners can program an Aibo to strike poses and perform routines that include waving, dancing and push-ups.

Aibo has garnered quite a bit of attention for the consumer electronics giant, despite the pooch's big price tag. The current version of the robot dog costs $1,500, down from as high as $2,500 for its predecessor. According to Sony, the company has sold about 50,000 dogs worldwide since it first introduced them in 1999.

"It's a trophy for (Sony) to demonstrate its technological prowess," IDC analyst Bryan Ma said. "It?s like what a PT Cruiser is to Chrysler."

Ma added that Aibo also helps to promote Memory Stick technology.

"If you?re an Aibo owner, you automatically have a need for Memory Stick."

Owners can also use an optional wireless LAN (local area network) card to remotely control their Aibo from up to 90 feet away using a PC.

The Aibo ERS-210, which went on sale in the United States in November, can recognize more than 50 words and has a digital camera built into its head.