Adventures in Fostering Cats

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By Roslyn McKenna, PetSafe Web Content Specialist

You meet so many different pet personalities when you foster cats. And if you happen to foster kittens, you get to contribute to what kind of cat they will become. I’ve given you a few reasons why you should consider fostering, but the best reason to become a foster pet parent is all the great animals you’ll meet along the way. You get to be part of their stories and make memories with them, whether they’re in your life for a few days or a few years. Here are a few of my foster cat stories. Imagine the stories you could tell if you opened your home to foster pets too!

Eddie the Baby

(Photo courtesy of Catster. They have a great article about bottle feeding kittens! http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-kitten-health-care-bottle-feeding-orphan-ask-einstein)

(Photo courtesy of Catster. They have a great article about bottle feeding kittens! http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-kitten-health-care-bottle-feeding-orphan-ask-einstein)

You never connect with a cat more than when you bottle feed him. Eddie was like a tiny orange tiger, with a fierce personality and a strong meow. He was too young for kitten food, so my family and I took turns bottle feeding him kitten formula. There’s nothing cuter than a kitten with a milk mustache!

You don’t always know where your fosters go after they’re adopted, but Eddie was adopted by my parents’ neighbor. I went to cat sit for her a few years later. I don’t think Eddie remembered me; he hid under the couch as soon as he saw me. He’s not a fan of strangers, but he’s fiercely attached to his adoptive mother. Even though he doesn’t remember me, I helped raise him to be a loyal, loving cat.

chili and clover toys2Chili Pepper & Clover the Siblings

There’s nothing more fun or rewarding than fostering kittens. My parents fostered 2 kittens during Thanksgiving one year. Instead of spending the whole week shopping or surfing the internet, the whole family was gathered in the kitten room to spend time together playing with Chili Pepper and Clover. It’s funny how entertaining it is to wave a feather wand across the floor and watch kittens chase after it for hours.

chili and clover su2The kittens helped us bond as a family, and they also helped a “scaredy cat” become comfortable around animals. My sister brought her friend over to spend Thanksgiving with our family. She hadn’t been around pets much, so she was afraid of my parents’ dogs and cats. When Phoebe the large dog walked in a room, she would seem to teleport to the other side of the room.

But you can’t live with 2 dogs and a bunch of cats for a few days without getting a little used to them. By the end of the week, she had overcome her fear and was hesitantly petting the dogs and letting the cats come up to her. That just goes to show you how pets (including foster pets) can help us grow and change!

Benjamin the Shy Guy

benjamin grey fosterSome foster cats need extra care and attention. Benjamin was a grey adult tabby who wanted nothing more than to be by himself. He hid behind the couch in our foster room, afraid to let anyone near him.

The best way to get a shy cat out of his shell is to desensitize him to human contact. I read a book in his room for 30 minutes every day. I started by sitting at the door and gradually sat closer to him every day. Eventually he let me sit right next to him. I would coax him out so I could pet him, then put him on my lap when he got even more comfortable. It felt great to help him change from a corner cat to a lap cat in a few weeks.

Do you have a foster cat or dog story? Tell us in the comments!

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You came for Bark For Your Park, now Stay for Best Moments

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B4YP1By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

In 2014, more communities than every stepped up to Bark for their Park – over 1400. This is so inspiring to all of us that work on the contest. It tells us that there are lots of communities out there that would love to have a PetSafe Dog Park. On Friday, June 13th, we reveal our 15 Finalist Cities in our 4th annual Bark For Your Park contest. Our finalists will move forward and work hard to compete for their dog parks. But what about the many cities that were nominated but aren’t finalists?

Keep the Barking Going – Continue your efforts to get your community excited to complete your very own local dog park. Connect with your local Animal Welfare organizations and let them know you are passionate about a dog park. Form a Dog Park Team and work together to spread the word, gather resources and enthusiasm for your dog park, and your park will come to fruition. If you need extra help making your dog park a reality, we hope you’ll come back next year ready to Bark for your Park with PetSafe.

There are still chances to win – Every Friday from June 20th-July 25th, voting for your favorite city will also get you a chance to win FREE PetSafe products. “LIKE” us on Facebook to get a 7 Vote Sniff Out clue every Friday, use the clue to Sniff Out a chance to earn 7 extra votes for the city of your choice and a chance to win big prizes from PetSafe. Our first Sniff Out prize is worth $300. 15 winners are chosen from each Sniff Out in honor of our 15 finalist cities.

B4YP logoEnjoy more best moments with your pets – Every product that we make is designed to give pet owners more of the very best moments with their pets and ultimately keep more pets in loving, happy homes. When our consumers purchase our products, we are able to give a back to the pet community through dog parks and our work with rescues and shelters, which leads to more dog adoptions and fewer owner surrenders to shelters. We know that pet-lovers everywhere are excited to be a part of PetSafe brand. Together, we are making more best moments with our pets.

Stay tuned for more fun contests from PetSafe including one that will make your cats happy too. Thank you for joining us for Bark For Your Park, we hope you’ll stick around for more of the fun!

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Before We Announce the Finalists….

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B4YP logo

By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

We will be announcing the 2014 Bark for Your Park finalist communities this evening. Can you believe it is already time? We all still remember the early stages of planning, and just can’t believe how fast the contest is passing by so far! Our team is so excited to tell you who the finalists are, but you’ll have to wait just a few more hours. Is the anticipation building?

You can see the finalists announced on our website at 5pm ET this evening, or you can get a “leg up” on finding out the 15 finalists by tuning into our LIVE UStream broadcast at 3:00! We’ll be talking about the next phase of the contest, and then announcing the long-awaited community names.

If you’re just now hearing about the Bark for Your Park contest, find out some reasons why having a dog park can be a great addition to your community with our infographic.

B4YP1So far in the contest, we’ve seen some incredible efforts from so many communities. We have looked at several city pages to browse comments, and it was so much fun to check out what the city members had to say. Some participants would give a vote total each day to encourage other members of the community to sign-up and start voting. Others would upload pictures of dogs that would benefit from a new park. If your community does not happen to make it to the finals, one great way to gear up for next year is to look at the city pages of the finalist communities to see what kind of barking they did! And this doesn’t mean you have to stop participating this year. You can always help another community by voting for them to receive funding for a dog park.

Some communities started Facebook pages and Twitter pages, held events to rally more support and held town meetings to discuss having a dog park. Did your community do anything PAWsome this year? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment on this post, and let others see what your community members did.

We also wanted to bark a big THANK YOU to all of the participants so far in the contest. Not only have you nominated your cities to win money for dog parks, but you have raised awareness of why having a dog park is so great. Your barks have certainly been heard around the country, and we are absolutely blown away by the response thus far in the contest.

What’s next? Well, in a matter of hours we will begin to listen to all of the barking for the 15 finalist communities! The barking will continue through July 31st, and we will announce the winners of the 2014 Bark for Your Park contest on August 7th. So remember to watch our LIVE broadcast and BARK FOR YOUR PARK!

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A New Place to Play

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By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

This spring, my family and I got the opportunity to seek and find a new home. In a few short years, Buckley and I have gone to from 2 to 4 and added Kristopher and Finn to round out our family. Although we enjoyed a small condo near our jobs initially, we always wanted to give our dogs a yard.

We took a circuitous route to finding the perfect house and yard for us. We rented our condo and spent 6 months living in a friend’s house and helping clean and organize it. We spent a few short weeks with family and vacationed in the mountains; before we were able to unpack our suitcases in our current home, all with our pups tagging along.

Buckley and Finn receive personalized treats at Alexander's Cabin in Asheville, NC.

Buckley and Finn receive personalized treats at Alexander’s Cabin in Asheville, NC.

Moving is stressful and multiple moves can leave you feeling completely out of sorts. All along the winding road that would eventually lead us to our new home, I had a convenient constant tool that helped keep my dogs from stressing out too. We took our Stay+Play Wireless Fence® system with us from place to place throughout the journey. I would unplug the transmitter and head to our next spot, plug it back in and go out into the yard with the collars to check the new boundary. I would bring the dogs out and use praise, and then call them back toward me when they heard the beeping of the collars. Buckley and Finn are pretty practiced with a wireless fence and remote trainers, and each time they seemed excited to know they had freedom to enjoy their new space.

From the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina back to our beloved Knoxville, Tennessee; we made the most of our time, our freedom and the outdoors during our transition. It was a bit of an adventure in our lives and we fully embraced it. However, we were certainly ready to settle into our own space. Once again, I plugged in my Stay + Play fence, fully charged up the dog’s receiver collars, confirmed their boundaries and at long last, the pups were able to be dogs in their own yard.

Finn and Buckley look out over their new yard

Finn and Buckley look out over their new yard

We soon added a PetSafe® pet door, another pet tool my dogs have come to enjoy and expect. Before long, I would find Buckley and Finn sunning on their patio, watching birds, and chasing and wrestling each other. We all collectively stretched out in our new home all the way thinking up new adventures we will experience from here.

What adventures have PetSafe products helped you have with your pets?

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Top Gifts for Dad

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By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

Having children is a great experience. An exhausting experience, but definitely a good one. Being a parent and a pet parent can be difficult to manage, but when you love your pets they are still a priority once you start a family. Normally I like to write about being a mom and managing a baby with two dogs, but I thought I’d go a different route this month in celebration of Father’s Day! Here are some great products to make life just a little easier on Dad:

1) Drinkwell® Everflow Indoor/Outdoor Fountain

This is a great product if you have a big dog that drinks a lot of water. It has a 1.5 gallon capacity so it is convenient for indoor use, or you can hook it up to a garden hose for easy refills outside.

2) Passport™ Pet Door

If you want to make letting the dog out easier, this is a great way to do it! You can program up to 20 pets, which means programming the time each pet can have access in and out of the door.

3) Stay + Play Wireless Fence®

This is one of my personal favorites. Setting this system up is very easy to do, and after the initial training period your dog can have his own space without a physical fence having to be present.

4) Elite Big Dog Static Remote Trainer

What’s better for Dad than a nice walk with the dog so he can get out of the house for a bit? How about a walk without a leash! We love to walk our dog while he is wearing this remote trainer collar, and we especially love to use it when we take him to the dog park. I’ve usually got the baby in the stroller, and my husband can communicate to our dog with the tone function. It’s so nice to just push a button and know that our dog knows we are calling him.

Artemis  Senior Squirrel Dude5) Busy Buddy® Squirrel Dude™

This low-maintenance toy is great for the strong chewers out there. It’s fun to watch your dog try to get the treats out of the toy that you placed in it, and it’s easy to clean when he’s done. We usually bring this toy to any place we bring the dogs, since we know they won’t chew it up and scatter the pieces all over the car.

To all of the dads out there, thank you for what you do!

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How to Socialize for the Dog Park

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By Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP

1Dog parks can be a wonderful place to allow your dog to play and explore off-leash in a safe environment. Once you have established the few important things below, you will be ready to begin socializing your dog to the environment at the dog park.

 

 

  • Your dog has all the appropriate immunizations. Check with your veterinarian.
  • Your dog is usually friendly around other animals. If your dog is shy, reactive or hasn’t been around other dogs you should consider a less overwhelming environment like a training class before checking out the dog park.
  • You are prepared to supervise and interact with your dog at all times while at the park. The dog park is the place to be focused on your dog, not on your cell phone.
  • Your dog has a good recall (come when called,) not just at home, so practice this before heading out anywhere your dog will be off-leash.

What is socialization and why is it important?

So you have determined your dog is a good candidate for the dog park environment and you are prepared to be a great dog park parent. Great, now let’s define socialization.

2Socialization is introducing the dog to novel environments, experiences, objects and others (be it dogs, men, women, children) AND making the introductions enjoyable and as stress free as possible so the dog develops good associations.

We often think of socialization for puppies as it is very important to their development into normal adult dogs. Well-socialized puppies develop far fewer behavior issues. Adult dogs can be socialized to new things with the same process. The important part is to keep the introductions slow and ensure the dog is enjoying the experience. If the dog begins to show signs of stress, anxiety, fear or reactivity slow down, pull back and return to an earlier point in the introduction.

The dog park is not just one thing. It is a new environment filled with new dogs, people, objects, smells, sounds and experiences. The best you can do for your dog is to scope out any dog parks in your area before bringing your dog along. Check the park out at times you are most likely to go. Things to look for:

Park Facilities and Management

  • Does the park have posted safety and conduct rules? Make note of these and whether those using the park are actually following the rules.
  • Does the park have separate areas for small dogs and larger dogs? While this doesn’t ensure safe dog-dog interactions it is definitely a good start.
  • Is the park well kept? It’s a dog park so there will be some dirt but the grass and other areas should be maintained, the fence should be secure, there should be waste stations and secure trash receptacles.
  • Does the park have any equipment or obstacles for agility or play? These should be well-maintained, low to the ground and easy to ensure the safety of all the dogs. Dogs not trained for these things can be injured.
  • Who manages the park? It could be the city, a private group or even volunteers. Check out any resources they have online.

People and Dogs

  • Are the pet parents supervising and interacting with their pets? If they are spending more time chatting with each other and texting they are not going to be able to control their dog if play gets too rambunctious. They should be monitoring their dog at all times.
  • Do all the dogs rush the gate when a new dog is entering? The pet parents should be encouraging their dogs to stay clear so others can enter safely.
  • Does the dog play look friendly? Dogs who are playing are loose, wiggly and bouncy.

Once you have found a good dog park, plan a short first trip. You may not even go inside the park the first time. Pick a time when the park is not too busy. Early mornings are usually good. Evenings and after 9 am on the weekends are usually swamped. Start by walking your dog on- leash outside of the park and let him check out all the sights, sounds and smells. If he approaches the fence calmly and looks happy to be there, feed him some treats. Careful with the treats as it’s safest not to take a bunch of treats into the park as some dogs may mob you or display guarding around the treats. Practice a few behaviors like sit or down. Practice approaching the gate calmly. If it is going well, take your dog in for quick off-leash lap around the inside of the park. Walk around with your dog. Talk to him, play and have fun. The dog park should always be fun for you and more importantly your dog. If at any time your dog seems, uncomfortable in the park or with any of the dogs or people you should leave. Even if it is going well, keep this first visit short, no more than 20 minutes. Next time you can plan to stay a little longer if your dog is enjoying himself.

As your dog interacts with the other dogs at the park pay close attention to the dogs he enjoys playing with and which ones he ignores, or runs away from. Just like we don’t like everyone we meet, your dog won’t like every dog he meets. Introduce yourself to the pet parents of the dogs your dog likes to engage with and find out when they visit the park. It’s a great way to ensure your dog has a good time and make some new friends. The best dog parks have a community of pet parents who are regulars and help watch out for each other’s dogs.

Every time you visit the dog park do a quick check before you go in the gate. Note any dogs, people, objects and sounds that may be new to your dog. Each trip will have a different set of variables and may present a socialization opportunity. Keep each interaction positive for your dog. Be prepared to leave or play away from some dogs if the situation is uncomfortable for your dog. With proper socialization your dog should become happy to play at the park with other well socialized dogs. That doesn’t mean he will get along with every dog especially if the other dog doesn’t have the best doggie manners. Not every dog enjoys the dog park and that’s OK. There are plenty of other options like agility, tricks, hiking, etc. that you can do with your dog.

While it’s great to practice some basic behaviors at the dog park, away from other dogs, and this can help build your dog’s confidence, I don’t recommend training new behaviors in midst of all the other dogs. Asking your dog to sit and stay while all the other dogs are sniffing his butt and in his face can be overwhelming and scary for any dog. If you need to get in some off-leash training head to the park very early and do it before everyone else starts arriving.

So take it slow, observe your dog’s comfort level and have fun!

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Get Humble. Adopt a Shelter Cat.

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By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliance

cat-150x150First…the disclaimer…at the present time I do not share my home with a cat. Wow. It sure felt good to get that off my chest.

Now…the back pedaling commences…I love cats. I really do. I got my first cat when I was six-years old. I just don’t happen to have one at the moment. We lost our last kitty at the ripe old age of 20. She was adopted from a Tennessee shelter when she was almost too tiny to climb into the litterbox on her own. My youngest daughter, who was also quite tiny at the time, chose her from the crowd in the cat room. That same daughter now has a baby of her own. Chloe was there through it all…three teenagers and several cross-country moves.

But, I digress…the reason I have no cat presently stems largely from the fact that two out of three dogs currently living with me are quite predatory. They feel it’s their responsibility to chase any small, furry thing that moves fast. A mountain lion may survive in my house, but I’m not liking the odds for the average Felis catus!

So, back to my roots as a cat lover. When I was six, my mom answered a free-to-good-home ad. When we went to see the kittens they were being proudly displayed to potential adopters – in a trash can. I have often wondered if that experience, that image seared into my six-year-old psyche nearly 50 years ago, is one of the factors that steered me to a life in the field of animal sheltering. That kitty lasted a long time…her ninth life came to a close during my sophomore year in college.

feral catIf you are considering adding a feline to your household (and, why wouldn’t you be considering that?), please visit your local animal shelter immediately. Did you know June is national Adopt a Shelter Cat Month?

Why should you adopt from a shelter? I’m so pleased that you asked! Here are my top 3 reasons to adopt a cat from your local shelter:

1)      SAVE a LIFE! And, I don’t mean that in a theoretical sense. That statement is meant to be taken literally. Even in communities where shelters have a near 100% success rate at placing healthy, behaviorally sound dogs, most still struggle with the cat numbers. There are lots of reasons for that, but the most significant may be the amazing rate at which cats reproduce. They are extremely resourceful and most manage to find ample food on the streets and safe shelter from the elements and other worldly dangers. And, they are very efficient at reproduction, often bringing two or more litters into the world annually. This brings me to my second point…

2)      SPAY or NEUTER ALL CATS! If you adopt from a shelter that is a guarantee. Nearly all shelters these days ensure that all pets are spayed or neutered before they are released to new homes. But, even if you end up choosing another source, please make sure to have this life-saving surgery performed ASAP! In the sheltering world we have a “technical” term we use often…the “OOPS” Factor. “Oops…Fluffy got out of the house just once and now she’s pregnant!” At the risk of lapsing into a basic biology lecture here, it only takes ONCE.

3)      ENRICH YOUR OWN LIFE! Cats are amazing companions who will in one moment entertain you like crazy and in the same moment teach you a lesson in humility. Dogs are awesome, but sometimes it pays to have a pet who will remind you that you are not a supreme being and who will completely ignore you when you call her.

Hopefully by now you are convinced that a kitty would make a fantastic addition to your family and you are on your way out the door to make a trip to your local animal shelter to look for a love match. Heck, I’m thinking about it myself. I bet the shelter has one of those tough cats that would simply stare at my dogs with that “I dare you” look. Maybe a cat is exactly what those haughty canines need to take them down a peg. If I don’t want to have their gourmet meal prepared promptly at 6 I shouldn’t have to, right? Never mind. I don’t want to have to sleep with one eye open for the rest of my life!

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Bark For What You Love

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PetSafe-Concord-Dog-Park_-Photo-Credit-Patrick-Mahaney-VMD-CVA-at-www_PatrickMahaney_com_By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

2014 marks our 4th Bark For Your Park contest. It was only 4 years ago that we sat around a conference table, with dogs in laps, wondering if we offered communities the opportunity to compete to win funds to build dog parks, if anyone would bother…barking.

Much to our pleasant surprise, communities across the US were just as passionate about dog parks as the PetSafe® Brand employees. Just as our dogs have always helped us connect with each other, the pursuit of a dog park has the exact same effect on community members. More and more dog-loving communities have found a common goal with their fellow pet lovers through the process of participating in the contest. Whether a community completes a dog park with help from the Bark For Your Park contest, or the contest simply gives cities a way to gauge their local commitment to a park and they complete the park on their own, more dogs are enjoying parks and each other.

We often speak of the benefits of dog parks to a community; fewer owner surrenders, lower euthanasia rates, lower crime, increased tourism, more green space and a better quality of life for the whole community. However, the ultimate benefit that communities take from building a dog park or joining in the Bark For Your Park contest is the positive energy that comes from doing something good for your community. It is literally contagious.

Each of us has a choice every day if we are going to add to our community in a positive way or not. Bark For Your Park is just one way that you can positively impact your community with two simple votes. The energy that comes from inspiring a neighborhood to win a dog park continues well after your dogs have worn down the grass in your dog park. While communities are taking the best care of our dogs and making great use of their green space, we are also learning how to care better for ourselves and each other. As we do this, the wonderful waves of positivity will only serve to help us see what else we can do for the betterment of everyone – in and outside of the dog park.

When we commit ourselves to being great pet parents, we are saying to our pets “I promise to pet you for the rest of your life.” It’s not too much to ask for us to promise to love our community for as long as we have the privilege to be a part of it too. We have the ability to duplicate this energy, and with it, change the world. We never cease to be amazed at how many passionate citizens are committed to making life the best it can be for their community and their pets. When we hear you Bark for Your Park, we know it comes from the heart. We also know that a community that loves its dogs enough to go after a dog park will always be an inspiration to keeping on barking for what we love the most.

If you haven’t nominated your city to win a dog park, what are you waiting for?

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How a Remote Trainer Helped My Dog

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By Jessica Medlin, Marketing Research Specialist

Emmitt2When my dog, Emmitt, was named, we thought we just named him after a legendary football player. Well, this football player was a top-notch runner… so we quickly found out that Emmitt was the same – a top-notch runner, and a very stubborn one.

Don’t get me wrong…he was and still is trainable. With the help of Lickety Stik®, he picked up “sit” on my 15-minute lunch break when he was about 6 months old. A few weeks later, we taught him “lay down.” A few weeks after that, he picked up “stay” in one evening. He learned all 3 commands within about 2 months. There was just one obstacle – he was untrainable to recall. The dog ran. He’s the shorter, more furry version of Forrest Gump…with an under bite. He just. Kept. Running. We got an Elite Little Dog Remote Trainer and tried training him with the remote trainer, using a few different approaches. Yeah…he still just. Kept. Running. So, I gave up.

emm at workAt work, he constantly whined and played the damsel in distress card and the other dogs came running to play. Body slamming and growling, like that sound Chewbacca makes, were his specialties. Try being in a meeting and having yet another weak moment and letting him off leash, only to have been duped by his good looks and charm, then immediately regretting it when he starts running laps around the meeting room table.  He was NEVER allowed off-leash in public, at the park, at the home of friends or family, outside OR inside at work. I had come to terms that he was going to be “that dog” and I’d just constantly be embarrassed by his behavior.

Until the day he ran out our front door, about one year old, and ran for the super busy road we live on. My boyfriend and I sprinted after him, screaming at him at the top of our lungs. It was like a game to him. Finally, Emmitt got close enough for his dad to dive after him, catching him by the tail. Crisis averted.

That was the day his remote trainer came out of retirement. At this point, he was a little older – about 1 year old. It was a completely different experience than when we initially tried the remote trainer. It took a few weeks, but he became trained with the help of the Elite Little Dog Remote Trainer. Don’t stop believing’, people! Emmitt is now about 2.5 years old and is [mostly] an angel at work.

Emmitt1For over a year now, he’s been going to work with me once or twice per week and has been able to be in the building wearing his remote trainer, free of a leash. He wanders off every now and then, but doesn’t go far and all I have to do is press the “tone” button on the remote and he comes back right away. He runs and plays with other dogs in the office, but the moment he gets loud or starts body slamming dogs, I press “tone” and he immediately comes to me. He also allowed off-leash outside at the office. Not kidding (I must get this on video so people will believe me) – when I get to work and park the car, I then turn on his remote trainer and hold it in front of him and he leans into it, basically putting it on himself, because he KNOWS he gets to be free from his 6-foot leash. To this day, people STILL see us at work and say in amazement “gosh, he’s such a different dog now, he’s so good!”

We owe it all to patience, persistence and the Elite Little Dog Remote Trainer. The Elite Little Dog Remote Trainer has changed our lives and dog’s life for the better, and probably the lives of all my coworkers and joggers at the park, too. Slightly unruly or highly unruly, I highly recommend trying a remote trainer for your dog, and your sanity.

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