What products are available to help prevent undesirable behavior?
There are numerous products on the market that have been designed to help prevent undesirable behavior in pets. Leashes, harnesses, and head halters are needed to keep pets under control, especially when outdoors. A cage or X-pen provides a safe comfortable home for the dog, when the owners are not available to supervise. Alternately, child locks and child barricades can be used to keep pets away from potential problem areas.
Since dogs, especially young puppies are strongly motivated to chew, it is important to provide a variety of chew toys. A chew toy can also help maintain good dental health. In fact, many dental foods and dental products make excellent chew toys while providing better dental health. Find a few products that are safe, durable and that appeal to your pet. A few representative products of each type or listed here as examples. Ask your veterinarian or local pet supply outlet wt have other suggestions.
Many companies manufacture toys that can be stuffed or coated with food or treats or designed to require manipulation to release the food (e.g. Kong®, Kong® Biscuit Ball, Dental Kong®, Nylabone Crazy Ball™, Buster Cube™, Tricky Treats™, Busy Buddy™, Twist’N’Treat™, Waggle™). Interactive toys provide an opportunity for social play with the owner. The Mutt Puck™, Boomer Ball™, Water Kong™, and a variety of flying disks have been designed for interactive play with dogs. Cats are attracted by toys that are a moving target for chasing and pouncing (Feline Flyer™, Cat Dancer™, Tiger Toy™, and Laser Mouse™). Some of these toys are designed for interactive play since they need to be set in motion by the owners, and some newer toys are propelled by battery power. Toys that might be manipulated by the cat itself include Crazy Balls™, which can be filled with food with either food or a flashing light toy for play. The Kitty Kong® is a light weight plastic toy that can be batted around, pulled along or propelled by the owners to encourage chase and pounce. It also has a opening that can be stuffed with food or catnip, and rubber band whiskers for nibbling. Most cats will also benefit from scratching and perching products but something as simple as an empty cardboard box or paper bag may be even more appealing for some cats. A product known as Pavlov’s Cat™ delivers food treats each time the cat scratches the post. For cats that chew on household items such as plants, planting a cat herb garden may attract the cat. For scratching problems, plastic nail coverings, (Soft Paws™) are available that can be glued on to prevent damage. Timed feeding devices and automatic watering devices, can help maintain a regular feeding routine at times when the owners might be away from home.
What type of training collar should I use for walking and controlling my dog?
The head halter is a quick and effective method of teaching the dog to respond to commands, so that a reward based training program can be implemented. The halter exerts pressure behind the neck and around the muzzle, rather than pulling against the trachea. With a pull forward and upward, the dog can be immediately prompted to sit and the tension then released as soon as the pet is performing the appropriate response. A favorite treat or toy can be used to reinforce and “mark” the correct response. All head halters are excellent walking and control devices and avoid placing pressure across the trachea. The Halti®, Gentle Leader®, and Snoot Loop® are attached to a ring beneath the muzzle and all can quickly and immediately redirect the head and close the mouth if needed. The Response® head halter is designed to be attached to the ring behind the skull, so that it is a quick and effective means of controlling pulling. The Gentle Leader™ also functions as a “head collar” which can be fitted and adjusted so it can be left on the dog for supervised control and training. Body harnesses (K9 Pull Control™, Lupi™) will effectively stop pulling, but provide poor control.
What products are useful for house-soiling problems?
For house-soiling in both dogs and cats, eliminating any residual odor is important to prevent the pet from being attracted the odor at the site. A number of products are specifically designed to remove stain or odor of pet urine, and are likely more effective than household cleaners that are for more general use. Products that use enzymes, bacteria or combinations of these two, such as Anti-Icky Poo®, Outright Stain and Odor Eliminator®, Nature’s Miracle®, Urine Off®, and Urine Erase® are particularly effective on urine stains that are relatively fresh and have not been pretreated. There are also products that are species specific odor counteractants such as Cat Off ® which can be used to neutralize odors even after other stain and cleaning products have been applied. A concentrate might be advisable so that you can dilute out a sufficient quantity to entirely saturate the entire area. There are also black lights and moisture detectors that can help to identify the soiled site. For cats, a synthetic cheek gland pheromone Feliway® is available that can be sprayed on areas where the cat might be inclined to spray or mark, in order to reduce marking (See our complimentary medicine handout for more details). For dogs that house soil, indoor litter systems might be appropriate as would be house training pads to teach the dog a new acceptable indoor elimination location.
What products are available for treating noise phobias?
A number of commercial products are now available that reproduce a variety of sounds of which pets might be fearful, including storms, fireworks and gunshots. Those that are specifically designed for treatment of canine fears and phobias might also include a training manual on how to effectively desensitize and counter-condition. For further details see our handout on thunder and fireworks phobias. There are also recordings available with a wide variety sounds including vacuums, trucks, hot air balloons, airplanes, crying babies, which might be used for desensitization and counter-conditioning or as background noises for habituation in puppies.
What products are available for correcting undesirable behavior?
Once behavior problems develop there are numerous products that have been designed to interrupt or deter undesirable behavior. This is one area where the quality and durability of the product is essential, and the type of warrantee may also be an important consideration. Follow the instructions carefully, and supervise the pet well. Punishment is intended to reduce the probability of a behavior in the future. To be successful, punishment must be administered during misbehavior, and must be sufficiently noxious to deter the pet. Of course before using any punishment type technique, be certain to first determine why the pet is exhibiting the behavior as it is of little value (and may be inhumane) to try and stop the undesirable behavior rather than resolve the underlying cause. In fact, if the problem is related to fear and anxiety, punishment may serve to increase the pet’s anxiety. When considering methods of punishment for undesirable behavior (See our handout on punishment), behavior products can be particularly useful since they are less likely to cause fear or defensive behavior toward the owner. In addition, if the punishment device can be activated while the owner is out of sight as in remote punishment or booby traps, then the pet may learn to cease the behavior whether the owner is present or not. If a training device is not effective immediately, discontinue its use, and seek additional advice since continuing to reprimand the pet without the behavior changing is counterproductive and may create fear and anxiety.
Why do some behavior products utilize shock?
For punishment to be effective, it must be sufficiently aversive to overcome the pet’s motivation to perform the behavior. For this reason, some punishment devices use “shock” to deter the pet. When determining what punishment if any might be useful or appropriate, the options available, the severity of the problem, the effects of the punishment on the pet (and owner) and the consequences to the pet and owner if the problem persists must all be considered . In some countries products that use any level of shock have been banned for being cruel and inhumane, and use of shock cannot be justified if there are other practical and more humane ways that the problem might be resolved. Electronic shock or “static” devices may be a viable alternative to restrictive confinement for pets that need to be kept away from specific areas. For example, because of the design of certain homes, the dog or cat that eliminates in inappropriate areas, or chews on electric cords, plants, Christmas trees, ornaments or valuable owner possessions, may end up confined to small areas of the home for prolonged periods of time. Alternately, indoor containment and avoidance devices might be used to keep pets away from the rooms, furniture or indoor areas where problems might arise. Owners with large yards and no fencing may need to keep their pet indoors, tied up, or confined to a small pen outdoors. Outdoor electronic containment fencing may be an alternative to keep pets from roaming off the property. Some containment devices have a tone that precedes the shock provides a signal that after just a few pairings the pet can learn to avoid further shock.. These systems vary in reliability and are best used when installed by professionals who also supervise the training. There are however, a variety of other avoidance devices that may be as effective or more effective than shock products, without the need for physical discomfort; such as citronella spray boundary barriers. It is important to note that even a highly noxious punishment may not be sufficient to overcome reflexive, innate or highly motivated behaviors. Consider, for example, the dog that continues to pursue porcupines after a face full of quills. Therefore, if the device is not immediately effective then its use should immediately cease and further use would be cruel and inhumane.
What products are useful for training and punishment when the owner is present to supervise?
Physical forms of punishment should be avoided as they can lead to physical injury, fear and defensive aggression and seldom are effective at deterring the pet from repeating the behavior. In fact, physical punishment can serve to reinforce some behaviors by providing attention. On the other hand an owner-activated device can be used as an immediate undesirable consequence associated with a behavior (punisher) or as a means of interrupting an undesirable response (disruptive stimulus) so that an appropriate desirable response can be achieved and reinforced.
How can a device be used to train appropriate behavior?
The concept of a disruptive or inhibitory stimulus is that it is sufficiently startling to interrupt the behavior. Whether the disruptive stimulus is also a punishment will depend on its effect on the pet and the problem. Some pets may be sufficiently deterred by the stimulus in order to reduce the possibility of the behavior recurring, while others will be interrupted but will not be deterred from repeating the behavior or will habituate to the stimulus over time. The goal of the disruptive stimulus is to inhibit the undesirable response (with a minimum of fear or anxiety), and provide a window of opportunity to achieve the desirable response (which can then be reinforced negatively and/or positively).
What devices can be used for pets that misbehave in the owner’s presence?
Direct punishment or disruption devices include audible trainers (e.g. Barker Breaker™, Sonic Pet Trainer™), ultrasonic trainers (Pet-Agree™, Easy Trainer™) or a citronella spray repellent. Rape alarms, water rifles, and compressed air may also be effective.
Why should the owner remain out of sight during punishment?
If the pet realizes that the owner is administering the punishment, the problem may cease when the owner is watching, but the pet will learn that the behavior is safe when the owner is away. Therefore, whenever possible, punishment should be administered while remaining out of sight, so that the pet does not associate the “punishment” with the owner.
What devices can be used to punish a pet while remaining out of sight?
A remote citronella (or scentless) spray collar and a number of remote ultrasonic collars are available. The remote citronella spray collar also has an audible tone that can be paired with a favored reward so that it serves as a remote form of reinforcement (as in clicker training). A water rifle may also be effective. A remote vibration trainer (Pet Pager®) has been designed for deaf dogs. For cats, you might place a remote activated alarm or spray device in areas where you might want to train your cat to avoid (such as plants or counters).
Since it is imperative that pet owners use these devices during (not after) misbehavior, a pet monitor is another practical training tool. A small motion detector, The Tattle-Tale™ is capable of picking up the movement of a dog or cat on virtually any surface. The device can be set up in any area where the pet might “misbehave” (scratching, garbage raiding, climbing on counters, furniture etc.). Home security monitors can also be used.
What can be done when the owner is absent?
Environmental punishment (or booby traps) may train the pet to cease the inappropriate behavior or to avoid selected sites even in the owner’s absence. This type of punishment resembles the learning that occurs when pets are exposed to cars, barbed wire, cactus plants, sprinklers, and other unpleasantries in their environment. Automatic pet doors can be used to give one pet an opportunity to avoid others or to use a particular room or feeding area while the others are prevented from entry since only the pet wearing the activation collar can enter through the door.
With a little planning and ingenuity it is often possible to design a successful booby trap out of everyday items. A few strips of double-sided tape, a few tin cans set to topple or an upside down plastic carpet runner may successfully keep pets out of an area.
Outdoor devices: Electronic containment systems with citronella spray collars (scentless refills are also available) can be used to keep dogs within selected boundaries. Pet repellents (available from most garden centers, motion activated alarms (Critter Gitter™), ultrasonic deterrents, a motion detector sprinkler (The ScareCrow™), and a motion detector can of compressed air, (Garden Ghost®) might keep the owner’s pet out of areas on the property (e.g. garden) or stray animals off the property. Ultrasonic deterrents appear to be variably effective at best.
Indoor devices: Indoor citronella (or scentless) spray containment systems can also be used with indoor transmitters, to keep pets away from selected areas or out of certain areas in the home. The Scraminal™ is a motion detector alarm. Alarm mats (ScratcherBlaster™, SofaSaver™) and shock mats (ScatMat™, PetMat™) are available to fit on windowsills, furniture or around plants. The Snappy Trainer™ has a plastic end that fits over a mousetrap to deter the cat or dog with minimal discomfort. A motion detector spray device (Ssscat) may be set up to keep cats (and perhaps dogs) away from plants, bird cages, fish tanks, drapes, windowsills, and furniture that might be scratched, as well as off tables and counters and out of rooms. Cat and dog doors have been designed to be activated only by the pet wearing the activation collar or “key” so that individual pets may be allowed to access areas of the home, while keeping other pets away.
What products are useful to control and deter barking?
For a bark activated device to be effective it must be sufficiently noxious to be deter the barking, sensitive enough to detect each undesirable vocalization and specific enough that is not activated by extraneous stimuli. The Super Barker Breaker™ and K-9 Bark Stopper™ are audible bark activated alarms that are designed to be placed on a counter or table in an area where a dog might bark (front hall, cage, etc.). Bark activated collars emit an audible or ultrasonic noise, or a citronella (or scentless) spray with each bark.
PRODUCT MANUFACTURER INFORMATION
Direct Interactive Devices:
Barker Breaker, Mini Barker Breaker (sonic), www.amtekpet.com
Direct Stop Repellent, (citronella spray), US: Premier Pet Products, www.premier.com, Canada: Multivet, www.multivet-inter.com
Pet Agree / Dazzer (ultrasonic), KII Enterprises – www.kiienterprises.com
Ultrasonic Pet Trainer – www.radiofence.com
Ultrasonic no-bark trainer – www.innotek.net
Dog Off – Ultrasonic and Sonic deterrent – www.lentek.com
Tattle Tale, (vibration motion sensor), KII Enterprises, www.kiienterprises.com
ABS Remote Trainer / Spray Commander (remote citronella or scentless spray collar), US: Premier Pet Products, www.premier.com, Canada: Multivet, www.multivet-inter.com
Pet Pager, Vibration stimulation remote collar, www.radiofence.com
Ultrasonic remote trainer – www.petsafe.net
Booby Traps (Environmental Punishment Devices) :
Indoor pet barrier – shock – www.innotek.net, www.invisiblefence.com, www.petsafe.net
Indoor pet barrier / containment (Spray Barrier) – citronella or scentless spray collar US: www.gentleleader.com, CAN:www.multivet-inter.com
Outdoor containment – shock – www.innotek.net, www.invisiblefence.com, www.petsafe.net
Outdoor containment (Virtual fence) – citronella or scentless spray collar US: www.gentleleader.com CAN: www.multivet-inter.com
Ssscat – scentless motion detector spray (indoor use) – US www.gentleader.com, CAN: www.multivet-inter.com (also available as MiniScareCrow or StayAway – www.scatmat.com)
Garden Ghost – scentless motion detector spray (outdoor use) – www.multivet-inter.com
Scatmat – electronic avoidance mat – www.scatmat.com
ScareCrow, motion activated sprinkler, Contech Electronics – www.scatmat.com
Scraminal /Critter Gitter, Scratcher Blaster, (motion activated alarms) – Amtek Pet Behavior Products – www.amtekpet.com
Snappy Trainer, Interplanetary Incorporated, www.interplanetarypets.com
Sticky Paws – www.stickypaws.com
Automatic Feeding / Watering Devices:
2 meal cat feeder – www.petsafe.net
Automatic drinking fountain – www.radiofence.com, www.lentek.com, www.petmate.com
Automatic / timed feeding dish – www.lentek.com, http://www.reilor.biz/pages/staywell.php, www.smarthome.com, www.radiofence.com
Water dog – outdoor motion detector dog watering system – www.scatmat.com
Bark Activated Devices:
Citronella or Scentless collars: US: Gentle Spray – www.gentleleader.com CAN; www.multivet-inter.com
K-9 Bark Stopper (audible bark activated), Innotek Inc.
Super Barker Breaker, SureStop Barker Breaker, Good Neighbor Barker Breaker (audible bark-activated deterrents) – www.amtekpet.com
Ultrasonic bark control table top unit, sonic bark control collar – www.petsafe.net
Bark Free and Super Bark Free audible and ultrasonic bark activated trainer – www.lentek.com
Gentle Leader, USA: Premier Pet Products www.gentleleader.com, Canada: www.gentleadercanada.com
Halti, Campbell Pet Products – www.campbellpet.com, www.coastalpet.com, www.companyofanimals.co.uk
Snoot Loop, www.animalbehavior.com
Response / New Trix Head halter – www.newtrix.ca
No Pull Halters
Holt – Coastal Pet Products – www.coastalpet.com
No Pull Halter – Four Paws Products Ltd – www.fourpaws.com
Sporn training halter – Sporn company – www.sporn.com
KOE/AOE/Cat Off/Dog Off (odor neutralizers) – Thornell Corp. www.thornell.com
Moisture urine sensor, Anti-Icky Poo (AIP) – Mister Max www.mistermax.com
Outright Stain and Odor Removal Products – www.bramton.com
Urine-off – www.urine-off.com
Ask your veterinarian for suggestions on products that might be most suitable for your household.
Soft paws nail coverings – www.softpaws.com
Selected play and training products – see your veterinarian or pet supplier for other suggestions
Pavlov’s cat – cat scratch feeder – http://www.mktmkt.com/pavlovscat.html.
Kong and Kong stuffing – www.kongcompany.com, campbellpet.com
Nylabone – www.nylabone.com
Premier Pet Products – Busy Buddy Toys – www.gentleleader.com