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Cathy Madson, MA, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Cathy Madson became a certified dog trainer in 2008, but she likes to think that her career began when she was six years old and a stray wandered into her yard and became her first dog companion. She completed her CPDT-KA certification in 2017 and her CBCC-KA certification in 2019. Cathy loves to geek out at dog behavior and training conferences. As Preventive Vet's dog trainer on staff, Cathy focuses on helping humans and their pets build a strong relationship based on trust, clear communication, and the use of positive reinforcement training methods. When she's not working, you can usually find her paddle boarding or knitting yet another dog sweater for Sookie, her Welsh Cardigan Corgi.

Recent Posts

What Kind of Treats Should You Use to Train Your Dog


The kind of dog treat you use when training your dog can make a big difference in how successful your training sessions are. With so many options available, it can be hard to know what dog treats you should buy.

There is a simple answer to this question. Use whatever training treat your dog enjoys! However, knowing how to "grade" your dog's treats and keeping them varied will benefit you in a few ways:

Read on for tips to figure out what training treats your dog likes best and when to use different treats to bolster your dog's training.

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Topics: What are Good Training Treats for Dogs, Dog, Dog Treats, Puppy treats

The Top 3 Reasons Your Dog Doesn't Do What You Want


It can be really frustrating when our dogs don’t respond when we need them to, not to mention scary if their lack of response puts them in danger. But your dog's non-response isn't because they are ignoring you, being stubborn, or they've decided to do something else even though they "know better." Dogs simply don’t think that way.

So why does your dog not do what you want? Let’s look at the top reasons your dog isn’t doing what you ask.

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Topics: Dog Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Dog

The Best Holiday Gifts for Dogs (and the People Who Love Them) of 2019


Searching for that perfect present to pamper your pet this holiday season? Need a gift for the dog lover in your life? We've rounded up our favorite gifts for both pooches and the people who adore them. From tech-savvy pups to the dogs who just want to relax, you'll find something for all types of dogs and their people!

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Topics: Best pet products, Christmas, Dog Gifts, Pet Gifts

What to Consider Before Getting a Pet for the Holidays (or Ever)


The gift-giving season has arrived, and for many children (and adults), a cute, snuggly dog or cat is on the list of what they are wishing for. Even though we know that dogs and cats aren't staring at a calendar lamenting their holiday plans, there is something especially festive and heartwarming about giving a home to an animal over the holidays, especially if it means getting them out of a shelter.

Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy when it comes to whether or not gifting a pet for the holidays is a good, or terrible, idea. Thankfully, from the data currently being reported, it seems as though a Hanukkah Husky, Christmas Calico, or Kwanzaa King Charles Spaniel isn't such a bad idea ... as long as you do it the right way.

The key to adding a new pet to your life the right way, is by being prepared — not just on the day you bring your new animal home, but for every day after. A pet is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Below you'll find tips on what to consider before getting a new dog or cat for the holidays (or any time of the year), and how best to prepare for your new pet!

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Topics: New Kitten, holiday pet safety tips, New Dog, new puppy

How to Teach Your Dog To Do Anything in 4 Easy Steps


Do you want to teach your dog a neat new trick? Are you just getting started with puppy training and want to teach your dog the basics? I’m going to let you in on a dog trainer secret — when teaching dogs a new skill, no matter how simple or complex the behavior we want to train, we follow the same process every time. And once you learn this process, you can teach your dog anything! 

One of my goals as a dog trainer is to equip my human students with the tools to understand how dogs learn and the training mechanics for them to easily and effectively put into practice on their own. This means they'll have the means to train their dog for life, not only building a robust human-canine relationship but also helping to prevent problem behaviors. This empowers them to pursue lots of different activities with their dogs, from competition obedience to other dog sports like Canicross, Flyball, or Agility.

Let’s look at the process of how to teach your dog to do anything. Once you know these 4 steps, all you need is some creative thinking, problem-solving skills, and practice!

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training

What to Do When Moving with Your Dog


Moving is one of my least favorite things. Yes, there’s the excitement of setting up a new home and exploring the neighborhood, but it’s the little things that I wish would just take care of themselves — the packing, the heavy boxes, the boxes that were never unpacked from the last move (should I just throw it away already?), the unpacking, the utility transfers and account cancellations … it can be really stressful!

I recently moved into a new home and thought a lot about how to make the move as stress-free as possible for my dog Sookie. Moving when you have a dog adds another layer of preparation and management, but with some planning and extra care, your dog can acclimate quickly to their new home.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dog Safety, pet safety tips, Dogs, Puppy Training

How to Teach Your Dog to Stay


Teaching your dog how to stay is essential for their safety and your peace of mind — it's one of our Top 6 Important Behavior Skills to Train to Keep Your Dog Safe. Stay is quite useful in lots of different situations, from being able to look both ways before crossing a street while out on a walk, to preventing door dashing when you have guests over. It's also a wonderful cue to practice your dog's impulse control and encourages calm and relaxation. Let's first look at what stay means from a dog training perspective before jumping into the how-to of training your dog to stay.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dog Safety, pet safety tips, Dogs, Puppy Training

Top 5 Training Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe on Halloween


Halloween can be a trick or a treat for your dog, depending on how much they enjoy the constant buzz of activity at the front door or dressing up to join in the festivities. If you're wanting to include your dog in any trick-or-treating, costume contests, or have them help you greet the gremlins, princesses, and superheroes who ring the doorbell, there are a few things to consider to keep everyone safe and happy. We've got 5 dog training and behavior tips to help you and your pup enjoy All Hallow's Eve.

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Topics: Dog Safety, pet safety tips, Dogs, Xylitol Dogs, canine chocolate toxicity, Toxicity in dogs, Blog, Pet costumes, Dog costumes, Halloween, Trick or Treat

What You Should Ask a Dog Trainer (and What Their Answers Should Be)


Before you hire a dog trainer, you want to do your homework to make sure that you and your dog will be in the right hands. Training is an important part of dog ownership as it can keep your dog safe in certain situations, help them cope with stressful experiences, and builds the trust needed for a strong human-canine bond.

The dog training industry is unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a professional dog trainer, behaviorist, dog whisperer, behavior consultant, or pet expert. Unfortunately this has led to a regression in the types of dog training methods used to teach our furry friends, as uneducated and uncertified "trainers" are not up-to-date with the latest behavior science, humane methods, and are not held to any standard of business practice. These "trainers" tend to rely on the outdated alpha, pack theory, or dominance-based philosophies even though these have been shown to actually increase fear and aggression in dogs

Before signing up for a puppy class, group obedience class, board-and-train, or hiring a dog trainer for a private in-home lesson, you'll want to interview them to make sure they are qualified, use humane and science-based methods, and are the right match for your learning style. Below are questions that you should ask when interviewing a dog trainer:

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Topics: Puppy, Training, Dog, Behavior

Alphabet Soup: What Does That Dog Training Certification Mean?


As you're interviewing a dog trainer to work with you and your dog, one of the questions you should be asking is if they hold a certification in professional dog training or canine behavior consulting. For more questions, you should be asking, read "What You Should Ask a Dog Trainer (and What Their Answers Should Be)."

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Topics: Puppy, Training, Dog, Behavior

Photo Credit: Preventive Vet

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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