Keeping Your Dog Healthy All Year

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Jessie with her German Shepherd, Moose.

Jessie with her German Shepherd, Moose.

By Jessie McDowell, Marketing Content Specialist

Keeping your dog healthy often makes us think of simply taking him to the vet and cleaning his ears. Health for your pet is so much more than vet visits; it is a super rewarding full time job. Everything you do has an impact on your relationship with your furry friend, and it is your job to make sure you have the best bond possible.

 

Here are a few essentials to keep on your dog care checklist:

- Feed the right food at the right amount

It’s hard to know exactly how much food your dog needs. You want to make sure he isn’t hungry, but you also don’t want him to have health problems from overeating. Check out this dog food calculator to make sure the heaping scoop you’re giving isn’t actually hurting your dog’s health.

As far as choosing the right food, this tip isn’t as simple. It all depends on your dog’s specific needs and health risks, but as a general rule, you want to give your dog the most natural food you can from a pet store or from your vet. Look for meat and vegetables, rather than grain fillers. Corn, rice, whole wheat, barley, soy and other grains are cheaper sources of protein used by many pet food producers to increase the percentage of protein in their food. Unfortunately, these are often difficult for your dog to digest and are not always good for your pet’s overall health.

- Hydration

When this fountain is used outdoors, it connects to a hose and automatically refills to the desired water level!

When this fountain is used outdoors, it connects to a hose and automatically refills to the desired water level!

If you aren’t home very often, your dog may not have the access to water that they need. Each day, dogs need to drink about one ounce per pound of body weight. That is a lot of water! If you aren’t giving your pet the water they need, you could be opening them up to the threat of urinary tract infections and health risks. You can’t always be with your pet all the time, but with products like The Drinkwell ® Everflow Indoor/Outdoor Fountain  and Drinkwell® Big Dog Fountain you can make sure they are getting the water that they need all day.

- Proper mental and physical exercise

Depending on the breed of dog you have, he may be begging for more exercise and attention. Even small dogs need more exercise than you may think. On average, dogs need about 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, and this isn’t just running around outside. Dogs need both mental and physical activity to keep them sharp. Try taking them on a hike, or find toys like the Busy Buddy® Jack that keep your dog playing and help exercise his mental capacity. Your dog will definitely thank you.

- Socialization

As much as our pets love us, it is nice to know that we can trust them to love other dogs too. Make sure you socialize your pet with all different sizes and shapes of dogs and humans to make sure you can trust that your dog will behave in every situation. They need that social interaction to be able to build healthy relationships with other dogs and humans. Socializing at the young age of 3 to 12 weeks old is a great start when your puppy is most likely ready for new experiences, but cautious socialization can continue throughout a dog’s life. A GREAT way to help socialize your dog is with a day at the dog park. Our Bark for Your Park contest will be launching in May, and your city could win funds to help build its very own dog park.

- Grooming and Vet Visits

This goes without saying, but regular visits to the vet and keeping up with your pet’s grooming will do wonders for his health. Routine visits can even extend the life of your pet, and can also decrease their chances of expensive visits down the road. Keep up with when your pet should visit the groomer and their veterinarian!

- Love

The number one thing your dog probably wants from you is love. Keep your relationship with your best friend healthy and your dog will have just what he needs to be healthy all year round!

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Bloat: The Tale of the Twisted Stomach

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By Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD

PetSafe Rebrand Lifestyle 3Potential dog owners interested in adopting a large or giant pure or mixed-breed canine must make themselves aware of a severe, life-threatening ailment commonly affecting big-statured dogs.

If you’ve seen the heart wrenching movie (or read the book) Marley & Me, you’re familiar with the scene where Luke Wilson informs Jennifer Aniston that their dog, Marley, is diagnosed with a “stomach twist.” In my clinical practice, I’ve been faced many times with the unfortunate task of alerting dog owners that their beloved canine has such a condition.

Symptoms

This common canine crisis is called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or bloat, and occurs when the stomach takes a 180 (more common) or 360 degree (less common) twist inside the abdominal cavity. This leads to a combination of clinical signs prompting an owner to pursue emergency veterinary care, including but not limited to:

  • Abdominal Distension. When the stomach twists, its contents (food, liquid, air, etc.) can’t properly exit into the small intestine. As a result, the stomach fills with gas and starts to distend. With the contents having no escape, the stomach’s maximum limits are reached and it can be felt or seen protruding beyond the dog’s last rib. This extreme dilation is termed dilatation. The distended stomach will feel firm to the touch and will have a tympanic or drum-like effect when tapped.
  • Retching to Vomit. The twisted stomach prevents movement of fluid and food in the appropriate direction from the mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach. Digesting food can’t move in the opposite direction from the stomach into the esophagus. Therefore, oral and esophageal secretions accumulate at the end portion of the esophagus right above the stomach (higher than the twist), and the dog will repeatedly retch thick, white, foamy liquid.
  • Pacing or Restless Behavior. The dilatation of the stomach causes great discomfort. As a result, the affected dog exhibits pacing and restless behavior instead of lying down or sitting in an uncomfortable position.
  • Pale Gums and Increased Heart Rate. GDV stops blood from returning from the lower body back to the heart, which can then causes the dog’s gums to appear pale. Heart rate increases in an attempt to push more blood flow to the front of the body. Extreme heart rate elevation can cause a dangerous cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal rhythm) called Ventricular Premature Contraction (VPC).

Not all dogs will develop GDV. Additionally, not all canines having the characteristics of a GDV-prone patient will suffer from the condition. It’s best for owners of large dog to be aware of the physical and behavioral factors that correlate with GDV, including:

  • Large and Giant Body Size. GDV is most often seen in large and giant sized dogs. Such substantial canines often have a deep chest and a narrow waist, which is theorized to permit more free space in the upper abdominal cavity for the stomach to twist.
  • Advanced Age. Adults and senior dogs are more commonly afflicted with GDV than younger dogs. The reason behind this isn’t known.
  • Eating and Drinking Habits. Your dog may be at risk if he: gulps food, doesn’t chew food properly, eats primarily dry kibble, binge eats large amounts of food or garbage, drinks lots of water after eating, or exercises shortly before or after eating or drinking. A full stomach creates a centripetal effect permitting torsion (twist).

Prevention

PFD18-12689 LifestyleWhen it comes to GDV and dogs, prevention is truly the best medicine. Slow down the pace of your dog’s eating and drinking. Feed your dog in a special bowl or food-dispensing toy designed to slow down eating, or place a tennis ball in his dish to make him eat his way around it to get the food.

Instead of consuming kibble, feed your dog a whole food diet containing small pieces of real meat, vegetables, fruits and other ingredients. Wait at least an hour before or after exercise to feed your dog. Limit the amount of water consumed before, during, and after exercise and eating.

Treatment

GDV is always a life threatening condition. If you suspect your dog has bloat, immediately seek medical care with your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary facility. An exploratory abdominal surgery is needed to relieve the torsion, evaluate the other organs for associated abnormalities, and surgically attach the stomach in a normal position to the body wall (gastropexy).

To take a truly preventative approach, any “bloat-size” dog undergoing surgery, such as for a spay/neuter, can also have the gastropexy procedure performed at the same time to prevent torsion. Gastropexy can be performed at any life stage to reduce the likelihood that large dogs will develop GDV. Talk to your vet about this option for your large dog.

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Spring into Family Adventures

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By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

Tyson attempts to be just as interesting as the toy dog.

Tyson attempts to be just as interesting as the toy dog.

If you’re a new parent, you probably have friends who have been through this all before. Some of us have those friends who seem to be superheroes when it comes to balancing a human and furry family together. You know, the people who just always seem to have it all under control? For the realists out there, going on family adventures with your children and fur-babies can be a daunting task as opposed to a pleasant day out. So where can you go to enjoy a nice day of family bonding?

Dog-Friendly Patio

The Elite Big Dog Remote Trainer

The Elite Big Dog Remote Trainer

Nothing puts me in a better mood than good company and good food. Living in Knoxville, we have a wide variety of patios that allow dogs. It’s all part of the great efforts to become the Pet Friendliest Community, and having dogs allowed on patios is a great addition to any city. This isn’t to say that every dog is patio ready, so make sure you are working to train your pet and socialize him well. One great training tool that we use for our hound, Tyson, is the PetSafe® Elite Big Dog Remote Trainer. We started small, with the tone-only level, and gradually increased the static correction as needed for any behavioral issues he was having. He has done a great job with the training, and this makes it so much easier to enjoy a nice dinner on the patio with the family. The only issue we have now is that the baby likes to chase Tyson’s tail whenever he is sitting down. One issue at a time…

Community Events/Festivals

Dylan dressed as one of the dogs at the Mardi Growl parade.

Dylan dressed as one of the dogs at the Mardi Growl parade.

Family-friendly festivals and outdoor events are a fantastic way to keep the family entertained. Concerts may not be the best idea for your younger children, but this will depend on what kind of music is playing. You’re in luck if your community offers any fundraising events for pets like Knoxville. We recently attended Mardi Growl 2014, an event that includes an awesome dog parade benefiting Young Williams Animal Center. The dogs in attendance were decked-out in colorful feathers and beads, and the children that attended got a chance to interact with all of the happy pups! Outdoor theaters often offer fun for the whole family, but you’ll want to make sure your dogs are as entertained as you are. Toys and tugs are easy to pack in your giant family tote, and we’ve got several to choose from at petsafe.net. My favorite for when we go out is the Busy Buddy® Ultra Sub because it keeps my dogs entertained while they try to chew on the rawhide.

The Dog Park

A great addition to any community, a dog park is a fantastic place to bring the family! Depending on the park, a walking trail is a great place to get exercise after you’ve been cooped-up all winter with the kids.  PetSafe has built quite a few dog parks in the Knoxville area that we enjoy visiting, and it gives the dogs a chance to exercise and get socialized. This has worked wonders with having a child, as the dogs aren’t as hyper around him. Living in a city with multiple dog parks is something I am grateful for often. It’s hard to imagine a community without one, but the great thing about the PetSafe brand is that our philanthropic opportunities allow us to give away money for a dog park elsewhere! That’s right. Our Bark for Your Park contest allows one grand-prize winning community $100,000 in funds to build a park, with 4 other cities winning $25,000. Make sure to check the Bark for Your Park website in the coming weeks as we prepare to launch the 2014 contest on May 7th!

I hope you will enjoy the warmer weather with your family this season, whether it be on a patio, at a festival or at a dog park. What are your favorite activities to do with the whole family?

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A Proper Dinner with Your Dog

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By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

When it comes to our pets, all you need is love and a designer dress. On January 22nd, PetSafe® proudly supported the Nashville Human Association’s Unleashed: Dinner with your Dog. This sold out event featured a Canine Couture fashion show from a few of Nashville’s rising clothing designers, modeled by adorable and adoptable dogs. Each pup was escorted down the catwalk by a celebrity with a love for animals.

The evening was designed for mutts of the royal variety. The theme of the evening was colorfully expressed with call Capturebacks to English Royalty.  Special dog water stations were on standby to keep four-legged guests hydrated with a verity of options for even the most sophisticated tastes. A treat buffet and one-on-one Dog Loo Escorts were just some of the wonderful touches the NHA cooked-up to make the event extra special for everyone.

Barbara Mandrel presented each precious shelter pup, their entourage and designer 1545718_10152567102272506_1050313602_nduds. The event left guests of all breeds begging for more. Like the Nashville Humane Association on Facebook so you can make sure you don’t miss this event in 2015, and learn about all the great work NHA is doing in the community for pets.

The event was definitely the Dog’s Bollocks. I was even able to secure an outfit for Buckley that she will most likely premier at the PetSafe Black Ties and Tails Gala coming up August 2nd in Knoxville, Tennessee and benefiting Morris Animal Foundation.

 

 

 

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The World According to Cooper

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By Stacie Greene, PetSafe Supply Chain Specialist

Stacie and CooperHealthy New Year Update!

Spring time is here! That is a really good thing since my workout plan with my mom has not really taken off just yet.  We haven’t been getting walks in, but we have been playing in the backyard every chance that we get.  I love to chase tennis balls in the backyard.

I guess any kind of exercise is good, but I am really hoping to get out to the local parks and go for long walks.  It’s fun just to smell all of the smells that are out there.

We have also been cooking out more now that the weather is starting to get nice.  I love it when mom cooks on the grill because I am always sure to get a bite or two of something.  Speaking of eating, I am having a really hard time cutting back on the cookies.  My mom has been trying to keep an eye on me and tell our work neighbors when I’ve had too many, but I can usually sneak off and find a cookie from someone else.  She is constantly amazed at my ability to find cookies!

Even though I’ve not really cut back on my cookie intake, I haven’t gained any weight.  I guess I just burn them off quickly.

I hope all of your workout plans and healthy eating plans are going well.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

 

Talk to you soon.

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Household Items to Keep Away From Pets

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By Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP

One of the most important things we do for our beloved pets is to keep them safe. While there are many dangers both outside and inside the home, one of the most dangerous is household cleaning supplies. The same products we use to keep ourselves, our pets and our homes clean are often poisonous. Pets are vulnerable to the same chemicals contained in these products as we are, and unfortunately many pets will taste or eat these household products.

Most all cleaning products including soaps, disinfectants, polishes etc. are poisonous if ingested, and many are caustic to skin. This includes not only kitchen and bathroom supplies, but laundry products as well.

In addition, other common products like air fresheners (in any form), fabric softener sheets and wipes are equally dangerous.

One item I absolutely recommend you don’t ever use, if you have pets, are automatic toilet bowl cleaners. Even if you don’t have a pet that likes to drink from the toilet there is a first time for everything. Don’t chance it!

For more pet friendly cleaning, consider organic and eco-friendly products, but still read labels carefully.

Another option is the tried and true baking soda and vinegar. Vinegar is a fantastic mold, bacteria and germ killer, while baking soda provides the scouring power! This makes a great cleaner for everything like sinks, counters, showers and toilets.

Careful management and storage are the most effective tools in preventing your pet from the dangers of household cleaners.

  • Ensure all cleaning products are stored and secured away from access by your pets.
  • You will also want to take precautions when they are in use. Always supervise your pets or block their access when cleaning. Dogs have been known to take a few sips from the mop buckets, taste the freshly polished furniture or run off with the sponge when we aren’t looking. Cleaning time is great time to give your pets an enrichment chew or puzzle toy in their crate or a quiet room.
  • After you are finished cleaning, empty any trash that may contain cleaning towels, sponges etc. so pets don’t raid the trash for these items.
  • Provide exercise and appropriate chew toys to prevent your pet from looking for fun in the wrong places!
  •  Train reliable “come when called,” “leave it” and “drop it” cues. You can use these skills if your pet does get into something that is not safe.

We all want a clean, safe environment for our family, including our pets, and with a just a little careful selection of products and management it can certainly be achieved.

Now I’ve got to wrap this up so I can go mop muddy paw prints off the kitchen floor…again.muddy dog

 

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Lucky Fosters: Helping Rescue Pets Through Training

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Successful training involves finding the behaviors that you DO want (i.e. sit politely) and rewarding them for occurring.  Behavior that gets rewarded is repeated!

Successful training involves finding the behaviors that you DO want (i.e. sit politely) and rewarding them for occurring. Behavior that gets rewarded is repeated!

By Toni Gibson-Mark, KPA-CTP

As a dog trainer, I’ve seen my fair share of dogs and families that need some help.  Usually the interaction goes something like this: the owner tells me all the behaviors that they don’t like (the dog jumps, barks or pulls on a leash, for example), and we spend time figuring out what behaviors we want instead (sitting, being quiet or walking nicely on a leash).  Then we develop a plan to train the dog to perform these desirable behaviors.

While this type of training is fun and rewarding, there is a whole other type of training that I take part in- training my foster dogs.  As an active volunteer with several rescues, I often foster shelter dogs while they’re waiting to be adopted.  The dogs come from all walks of life and are different sizes, breeds, ages, etc.  In most cases, they all come with a history that I don’t know about and I don’t have a previous owner to ask.

This beagle mix came to me at the age of 12 years old.  She had lots of history that I didn’t know about!

This beagle mix came to me at the age of 12 years old. She had lots of history that I didn’t know about!

Most come with some behavior problems—that’s usually how they ended up in the shelter to begin with.  So any training that I can do while they live with me is monumentally helpful.  Not only does it help the dog get adopted, it also helps the dog’s chances of staying in that new home!  However, unfortunately, with foster dogs there are unique obstacles in training.

First, I never know for sure how long I have with the dog.  In my fostering history, I had a cocker spaniel mix for two days, and a chocolate lab mix for close to a year.  That means I have to create goals and determine the priorities for that dog.  Even more importantly, I have to be flexible when my goals can’t be met.  When I started with the cocker spaniel, I had big goals of counter-conditioning him to crate training.  He was terrified of being in the crate.  As you can imagine, we didn’t get very far in two days.  However, just as important, I was able to meet a different goal- have him feel comfortable taking treats from my husband.

It didn’t take long to train this chocolate lab mix, Joey, to be polite with other dogs.

It didn’t take long to train this chocolate lab mix, Joey, to be polite with other dogs.

On the other hand, the chocolate lab mix that I fostered for close to a year had very few behavior issues. Since he was a pretty big dog, my main goal for him was to train appropriate play behavior with other dogs.  Six months later, I trained that and several tricks because I had a lot of extra time with him.

Another obstacle with training foster dogs is that the time is cut even shorter because you need to acclimate the dog to the new surroundings.

 

This momma dog was extremely cautious letting me come near her for the first 2 weeks of her staying in my home.

This momma dog was extremely cautious letting me come near her for the first 2 weeks of her staying in my home.

When I receive a new foster dog, I don’t get to train new behaviors for at least a week or more.  This first chunk of time is just to acclimate the dog to my home, new people and new surroundings.  For some dogs, this is a quick process, while other dogs take several weeks to start to feel comfortable.  For example, I fostered a Shepherd mix and her 7-puppy litter, and it took over a week before the Momma dog let me come near her– she was very protective over her puppies.

When the dogs do get acclimated, I can start training, but I have to deal with whatever past history the dog comes with.  Whether it is from lack of socialization or previous abuse, some foster dogs have fear-based issues.  Without overcoming these fears, the dog might not be able to begin learning other appropriate behaviors, so it’s important to deal with those first.  For example, I fostered a coonhound that was so afraid of her resources (food, etc) being taken away that she attacked other dogs if they came near.  Dealing with this fear was the first step before I could train other appropriate behaviors.

Zoey was a very easy foster.  A little crate-training and we were set!

Zoey was a very easy foster. A little crate-training and we were set!

There is no cookie cutter for foster dogs.  Some dogs are super easy while others are more difficult.  A dachshund mix that I fostered needed a little help with crate training, but other than that, she was perfect.  On the other hand, I once fostered a 3-legged beagle that spent a large chunk of time learning to walk comfortably on a leash.

Some dogs a have physical or health issues that need to be dealt with before training can really begin.  The 3-legged beagle obviously had physical limitations that made training unique.  I also fostered a puppy that needed to be socialized, but due to a health complication in her intestines, we needed to make sure she was eating, resting and keeping warm rather than socializing her to new textures and experiences.

 

 

Working with this dog, Nutmeg, involved more health care than training.

Working with this dog, Nutmeg, involved more health care than training.

A lot of people assume that when I foster dogs, I get to teach them things like “sit”, “down”, “shake”, or other behaviors that might make them more “exciting” to potential homes.  Realistically, training a foster dog means bringing a dog into my home, providing a calm and comfortable place while the dog gets acclimated, making sure that the dog feels he/she can trust me, and then working on whatever the dog gives me.  Because each dog is so different, I really never know what to expect to train.  To make matters more difficult, we often have very little history to go on—we don’t have previous owners to tell us how or why the dog might react in certain situations.

This former foster, Frank, had a brain condition called hydrocephalus that impacted how I worked with him.  When he was adopted, I was able to keep in touch with his new parents and it still fills my heart hearing his updates!

This former foster, Frank, had a brain condition called hydrocephalus that impacted how I worked with him. When he was adopted, I was able to keep in touch with his new parents and it still fills my heart hearing his updates!

Although training foster dogs can be tricky, it’s also extremely rewarding.  Even if the only thing I can train a dog is that he or she can trust me enough to snuggle with me on the couch, I have made him or her more adoptable because he or she is learning to trust people.  Every little bit of training helps the dog get adopted, and even more important, helps the dog stay in their new home.

It’s a beautiful transition to watch as a dog leaves his “homeless” days behind.  It’s even greater when he can start learning behaviors that establish him as a happy well-behaved member of the family.  Eventually the foster dogs always find new homes and saying good-bye to them is incredibly difficult.  Although, I’m always comforted by the thought that I know the foster dog has left an imprint on my heart, and I’ve left an imprint on his life by working with him in whatever way that I could.

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Global Pet Expo 2014

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By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

In case you wanted to know our booth number!

In case you wanted to know our booth number!

This week the PetSafe Brand team headed south to Orlando, Florida to bask in the glow of the 2014 Global Pet Expo. The pet industry’s largest annual trade show is lush with pet products and services of all shapes and sizes.  The inspiration and excitement, the innovation and re-connections make the show a buzz of energy.

For PetSafe, we bring our fair share of excitement to the expo too. Just last year, the PetSafe Brand set a record number of products ever launched at the Expo. Our Passport™ Pet Door, Train n’ Praise™ Potty Training System and Ceramic Fountains were among the 31 products that made their “global” debut in 2013.  It was a proud year for us, delivering such a wide variety of products to the market, all uniquely engineered with our consumers in mind. In fact, our consumers were closely involved in the development of the products and that made us all the more excited to make them available.

A great shot of our 2014 GPE booth!

A great shot of our 2014 GPE booth!

In 2014, PetSafe has even more exciting progress to share with the Global Pet Expo audience, and we hope our consumers will agree. A few products that may paint smiles on your and your pet’s mugs are our colored fountains and feeders. Giving your pet the best daily care has never matched your life and home better than with PetSafe colored feeders and fountains.

What about rewarding the behaviors you love in your pets? Our Auto Trainer and Train n’ Praise are two recent additions to the PetSafe product catalog that let you remotely reward your pets for their best behavior. Plus new toys, treats and more- all designed to give you and your pets more of the best moments together.

Another great shot of our products at GPE.

Another great shot of our products at GPE.

As we unveil these products to our customers, we invite you to learn more about them at petsafe.net. We hope you’ll be seeing these new PetSafe products in your local pet stores very soon.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Cat From Escaping

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By Roslyn McKenna, PetSafe Web Content Specialist

Does your cat do a great impression of a race car when she hears your front door open? Some cats aren’t satisfied with life inside and want to explore outside, despite your best attempts to keep them inside. It can be stressful trying to keep an escape artist kitty inside, especially when they make a mad dash for the door every time. Here are some ways you can teach your kitty to stop trying to escape.

1.  Designate One Door for Outside Freedom

Help your cat associate one door with going outside. Pick a door you want your cat to use, such as the back door, side door, or whichever door you use the least. Put on your cat’s harness near that door and only let your cat out through that door. Your cat should associate that door with going outside and stop darting for any open door.

My cat Skittles had an in-ground fence in the backyard. She would go to the back door when she wanted outside, and I would put on her collar by that door before she could go out. She didn’t try to leave by the front door because she only associated the back door with freedom.

2.   Teach Your Cat to Sit & Stay

Teach your cat to go to a certain place when you leave and come home. A cat tower or cat tree is a great option for this. Before you leave, walk over to your cat’s place. Encourage your cat to come over with a treat. Pet her when she’s in her place and give her more treats. Toss a few extra treats next to her when you leave so she’s busy eating as you’re opening the door.

A treat-dispensing or interactive cat toy is another great way to keep your cat from darting. For cats who are easy to train, you can even teach them “Sit” and “Stay” to keep them in that place without treats or toys.

 3.   Install a Cat Door

You can give your cat limited outdoor access with a pet door. The beauty of a cat door is that you can lock it whenever you want. You could let your cat outside during the day or when you’re home, then lock it at night so your cat avoids strays, predators and nighttime traffic.

Electronic doors are a great way to keep your cat in while letting your dog outside. Your dog wears a special key on his collar that opens the door when he walks up to it. If your cat doesn’t have a key, the door won’t open for her. You can also set certain times when each pet can use the door.

4.  Spay or Neuter Your Cat

Cats who aren’t fixed tend to stray more often than cats who are fixed. Unfixed cats could wander quite far from your home in search of potential mates. Cats who are fixed tend to stick closer to home because they have no desire to breed. There are other great side effects of spaying/neutering too, including reduced rates of cancer and other diseases. And even if your cat does get out, you’ll feel better knowing your cat isn’t contributing to the pet overpopulation crisis.  This video puts it much better than I could:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4TxOG3gk8U

5.  Use a Pet Proofing Barrier or Spray

You can use a squirt bottle or a can full of pennies to scare your cat away from the door, but you have use it every time your cat is near the door. Pet proofing barriers and sprays are an easier way to keep your cat away automatically. Simply place the spray or barrier near the door and turn it on. With a spray deterrent, any pet who walks near the device will feel a short burst of spray. With a barrier, your cat wears a special collar, and as your cat gets near the door, she will hear a warning beep. If she keeps going, she’ll feel a gentle, harmless static correction that reminds her to keep away from the door. It’s a safe, consistent way to teach your cat to stay away from the door.

Extra Safety Tips for Outdoor Cats and Indoor Escape Artist Cats

  • Pay attention to when your cat tries to dart and look for signs that she’s about to run for the door.
  • Post a note by your door that warns visitors to watch out for the cat before opening the door.
  • Make sure your cat always wears a collar and tags.
  • Keep your cat’s shots up to date, especially for rabies and Feline Leukemia.
  • Give your cat monthly heartworm and flea meds.
  • Protect your cat by teaching her to stay in your yard with an in-ground fence.

 

Do you have an escape artist kitty? How do you keep your cat from getting out?

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PetSafe is Proud to Present the AutoTrainer!

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Auto Trainer main pkg photo_HRThe AutoTrainer is an automatic, reward-based training device used to solve problem barking and calm dogs while their owners are away. This patented device is the first of its kind on the market, utilizing an automatic training system featuring sequences of tones that teach dogs to remain calm and quiet.

 

AT lid open angle view_HRThe system features:

  • The AutoTrainer base unit, which dispenses kibble and records the dog’s bark history throughout the day
  • The AutoTrainer collar, which transmits the dog’s barks to the base unit using Perfect Bark dual detection technology
  • 2 kibble disks, small and largeAT Collar angle view_HR
  • Power adaptor cord
  • 2 CR collar batteries
  • Full instruction manual

 

Read on to hear more about the AutoTrainer from the experts.

Dr. Ian Dunbar, Co-Inventor

Dr. Ian Dunbar, Co-Inventor

 

In the Beginning:

Years ago, during a chance meeting on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco, Dr. Ian Dunbar and Dr. John Watson struck up a conversation about whether marking a dog’s bark and immediately interrupting a progressive tone sequence that predicts food delivery would reduce the frequency of barking and number of barks per day.

 

Dr. John Watson, Co-inventor

Dr. John Watson, Co-inventor

Back in the Bay Area, Dr. Watson promptly engineered a computerized prototype, which the good Doctors tested on barking dogs, primarily at the Berkeley Humane Society. Amazingly, not only did the tone sequence itself drastically to reduce the frequency and number of barks but also, hyperactivity many dogs would pace less and instead, settle down next to their electronic buddy.

 

Ian raised the question of finding an automatic reward-based procedure that could be built into a device to help dogs stop habitual barking. After a few initial tries, we zeroed in on a procedure that would guide a dog’s attention to the anticipation of food with the help of a series of tones. To our pleasant surprise, dogs not only learned to inhibit barking but seemed to calm down noticeably when the device was available.- Dr. John Watson, Berkeley CA 

Development and Testing:

Toni Mark with dog, Sadie

Toni Mark with dog, Sadie

Toni Mark, KPA-CTP, Training and Behavior Education Specialist, PetSafe

Here at PetSafe, we have extraordinarily high expectations for our training equipment.  We pay incredibly close attention to science-based learning theory and the trends regarding what makes pet owners more or less likely to train their pets.  Utilizing all of this information, we set out to make some of the best training products on the market.

We knew what we wanted out of the AutoTrainer -  We wanted an electronic training device that used positive reinforcement to train a dog to be quiet and calm during the day.  We also wanted it to be easy to use and automated.

Although we knew what we wanted a while ago, the development has taken longer than expected. What was the hold up?  Our high expectations.  We went through several rounds of prototypes, samples and testing rounds that weren’t perfect.  We looked at every single angle and every crevice in the device to make sure it was exactly what we wanted.  Even little things that you might not expect- like the shape of the bowl and the strength of the suction cups on the bottom of the machine- were important to us in development. We required that the tones and sequences be perfect, and the shape and size be unique to the function of the machine. We tested several versions of two very important functions of the machine: the muzzle detector (which detects whether the dog ate the kibble) and bark detector (to tell the machine if the dog barked).  Although we could barely contain our excitement in getting this product to market, we continuously held ourselves back -  We wouldn’t launch until we had exactly what we wanted.  When we hit roadblocks, we wouldn’t compromise.  After all, the dogs depend on us!

Now we’re ready to launch!  After months and months of testing, countless days spent reading logical flowcharts of sequences, and an immeasurable amount of hours touching, handling, and perfecting this machine, we are ready!  The AutoTrainer is a training product that we are incredibly committed to and excited about, and we are thrilled to watch it transform the lives of many pets!

How It Works:

Michelle Mullins and dog, Jinks

Michelle Mullins and dog, Jinks

Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, Training and Behavior Education Manager, PetSafe

The AutoTrainer works to decrease barking by marking and rewarding the dog for increasingly longer periods of quiet. The method of rewarding incremental steps on the way to a goal behavior is called shaping. To a shape a behavior, the criteria is slowly increased to allow the dog to be successful and earn a reward. If unsuccessful, the behavior is simply ignored or a non-reward marker is used. A non-reward marker is often an innocuous sound (although it can be any stimuli) the dog learns through association that indicates no reward is coming.

The AutoTrainer begins with a series of tones culminating in a marker tone that results in the dispensing of a bit of kibble (the reward). It slowly increases the length of the tone sequence so the dog will be rewarded for being quiet for longer and longer amounts of time. If the dog barks during a tone sequence the machine will emit a different tone as a non- reward marker and cycle into a shorter sequence to provide the opportunity for the dog to successfully earn a reward at a level at which he was previously successful. Keeping the shaping successful for the dog allows him to learn what behavior is rewarded. Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated, so he will be very likely to continue the quiet behavior that earned the kibble. Shaping engages the dog to make a choice and have an effect on the consequence of his behavior.

Many dogs will be immediately comfortable with the AutoTrainer. However some may need a little acclimation time to get used to the sights and sounds of the unit, as well as some initial introduction to the shaping process. We have included a Teach Me mode and instructions on how to acclimate your dog to the machine, and tips on helping him learn that shaping is fun and rewarding! It won’t take long before your dog will on his way to quiet, calm dog we know he can be!

When, Where and How Can You Find An AutoTrainer?

The AutoTrainer will make its debut at the GLOBAL Pet Expo this March in Orlando, FL, retailing at $199.99. Check with your local retailer, trainer, or veterinarian for availability. Stop by the Petsafe Booth, number 2753, for more details!

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