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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 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

10 Boredom Busters for Your Dog


Is your dog barking for no apparent reason? Have they started digging up your flower beds? Is your puppy chewing up your shoes or the couch? Constantly bugging you to interact while you're trying to get some work done?

In many cases, there is a simple explanation: your dog is bored! Dogs get bored just like we do, so it's important to provide them with exercise, training, interactive toys, and brain games to keep them busy and entertained. Giving them appropriate ways to burn that extra energy also means your flower beds, shoes, and couch won't become unfortunate casualties. 

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Topics: Puppy, Dog, Behavior

Alert Barking: The Dog Equivalent to "Get Off My Lawn!"


Does your dog have to let you know about any and every person or animal that passes by your home? There are many reasons a dog barks, and we call this kind of barking "alert" barking or territorial barking – something that we humans originally preferred dogs to do, and we bred for it in the domestication process.

I personally prefer that my dog bark once or twice to let me know that someone is approaching my door. However, alert barking becomes a nuisance when your dog is constantly reacting to everyone they see or hear walking by your home. Many apartment dwellers deal with alert barking (and frustrated neighbors) when their dog barks any time someone passes by their door, gets out of the elevator, or closes their own apartment door. The proximity of all the noises can be tough in an apartment setting for a dog. In this article we’ll talk about what you can do to teach your dog not to bark at people or things they hear passing by or see through the window.

There are a few different reasons dogs will bark besides alerting to someone or something outside. It could be due to boredom, anxiety, fearful reactivity, or they’ve learned that barking gets them attention (even if this is just you yelling at them to stop), which is called "demand" barking. First you have to figure out what is causing your dog to bark, which then determines how to approach this problem behavior. A certified dog trainer can help you determine the trigger for your dog's barking if it isn't immediately obvious, and a wifi-enabled pet cam can also help. The most useful one for barking dogs is the Furbo Dog Camera. It will send alerts to your smartphone when it detects barking, has two-way audio so you can get your dog's attention, and has a fun treat-tossing option that can be pre-programmed or done directly from the app.

Alert and territorial barking is a normal dog behavior. Plus, it's very reinforcing for your dog.

Just imagine what they're thinking: "I barked to tell that person to go away, and it worked! I've got to do that again next time!" Your dog doesn't understand that the person was going to pass on by whether they barked or not. Does this sound like your dog? Read on for tips on how to teach them to be quiet instead. 

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Topics: Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Dog Behavior, Alert Barking, Barking

How to Use Music to Calm Your Anxious Dog


Does your dog get scared during thunderstorms or fireworks? Do they suffer from separation anxiety? Does hearing noises outside make them nervous? Turning on some music or some form of "white noise" for your dog can help relieve their stress.

Recent studies have shown that playing music reduces stress in dogs at animal shelters, with less barking, lower respiratory rates and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the effect music has on human emotions has been a subject of study for quite some time. Music therapy is used as a natural anti-anxiety remedy and to help with sleep disorders, and it’s easy to use the same technique for your puppy or adult dog.

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Topics: Puppy, Dog, Separation Anxiety, Behavior

Getting Your Dog Ready for the 4th of July


While July 4th celebrations can be tons of fun for us humans, the loud bangs and other fireworks noises can be downright terrifying for many dogs. Even dogs who don't suffer from thunderstorm phobia or other noise aversions can become stressed by all the hubbub and flashing lights in the sky.

Dogs may show anxiety or stress in a variety of different ways. Pay attention and learn to recognize these signs for what they may mean. Signs of stress can include: panting, trembling, drooling, pacing, hiding, trying to escape, decreased appetite, potty accidents, dilated pupils or wide eyes, and whining or barking.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your dog through the fireworks and lessen their stress and anxiety. Let's look at things you can do ahead of time to prepare your dog, as well as things you can do the actual day of July 4th to lessen their stress!

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Topics: Dog Safety, Dog, Fourth of July, 4th of July, Fireworks, Sedatives, Noise Phobias, Acepromazine, Thunderstorms, adult dog tips, puppy tips, supplements for dogs, noise aversions

Should You Pluck Your Dog's Ear Hair?


Have you ever looked in your dog’s ears and seen a bunch of hair growing inside? Some dog breeds naturally grow hair inside their ears, such as Shih Tzus and Poodles. I’ve noticed that as my Corgi has gotten older, she has thicker fur growing inside her ears than she used to — I call it her “grandpa ear hair.”

Hair inside the ear can make it more difficult for your dog’s immune system to keep levels of yeast and bacteria at a manageable level, can block the flow of air that keeps the ear canal dry, and trap dirt, excess ear wax, and debris inside. So if you’ve noticed that your dog’s inner ears are getting a bit overgrown, what should you do about it?

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Topics: Dog Health, Puppy, Dog, canine care, Grooming, Ears, Ear Cleaning, Ear Infections

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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