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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

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

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

What to Do When You Find a Lost Dog


Being able to reunite a lost dog and their owner is a rewarding feeling, but it’s also not always an easy task. Sometimes the dog won't come near you, or for other reasons you can't catch the dog. In this case, taking a photo or writing a description and posting on social media with the location can go a long way in helping someone track down their lost dog. 

If you see a loose dog and feel you are prepared and able to help, and if it’s safe to do so, here are some tips to help you find their owner as quickly as possible:

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Topics: Dog Safety, Dog, Finding lost pets, Lost Pet

Hiking with Your Dog — Preparation and Trail Tips


Hitting the trails with your dog is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors and reap the benefits of being outside and physically active. Hiking not only provides your dog with much needed exercise, but also gives their noses and brains a work out too. Plus, studies have shown that spending time outside surrounded by green space reduces human stress levels and has other medical benefits.

Going on an adventure together as a team builds the bond you share with your dog and makes your relationship stronger. Before you take your dog on a hike or on a longer backpacking or camping trip, take these steps to ensure your pup’s safety while on the trail and you can reap the benefits of a fun trip together.

Want to learn more about your dog's behavior and get some training tips? We've  got 101 more for you here!

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Topics: Dog Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Dog Behavior, Pet Travel Safety, Come When Called, Hiking

Why Your Dog's Coat Gets Matted — and What You Can Do About It


Mat alert! Dog fur often becomes tangled and knotted around itself without frequent brushing, which is called matting. Mats occur frequently in many dog breeds with curly, fine, or double coats. In extreme cases, the dog's coat will become what groomers call "pelted" — when matting is very tight to the skin, preventing proper air flow.

Matting and pelting prevents proper temperature regulation, causes skin irritation, hides parasites like fleas or other nasties, and causes extreme discomfort and pain for the dog.

Mats are mostly preventable! Let's look at why your dog's coat is forming mats and things you can do to keep them at bay. We'll also talk about what your options are if your dog's coat is already matted. 

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Topics: Dog Skin Issues, Puppy, Dog, canine care, Grooming, Dog Husbandry, Dog Coat Care, Matting, Dog Fur, Dog Brushes

Caring for Your Dog's Coat: Brushing, Combing, and Mats — Oh My!


Dog fur always seems to get everywhere — on your clothes, on the furniture, in your coffee, even little fur tumbleweeds that float across the floor. Keeping your dog brushed will help you minimize the layer of fur over everything and promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. But what kind of dog brush should you keep handy? This all depends on your dog's coat type. Read on for tips on how to pick the most effective brush for your dog.

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Topics: Puppy, Dog, canine care, Grooming, Giving a dog a bath, Skin problems, Dog Coat Care, Matting, Dog Fur, Dog Brushes

Teach Your Dog Leave It


Leave It is one of the top 6 most important dog training commands that keep your dog safe, and it's easy to start training! Leave It training is a great impulse control exercise for your pup and teaches them that not everything in the world is theirs for the taking.

It's extremely useful for when food or medication falls on the floor, which can be toxic for dogs. Some dogs think of themselves as vacuum impersonators and will try to eat everything they encounter on the ground, whether at home or out on a walk. Being able to tell them to leave something alone prevents ingestion of harmful items or possible intestinal obstruction. Leave It is also an important skill to have in your training toolkit if you live in an area where your dog might come in contact with snakes. See this article about teaching your dog snake avoidance to learn how to apply Leave It in those potentially dangerous situations.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dog Safety, Behavior & Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Benefits of training

Teach Your Dog Drop It


Dogs seem to love putting anything and everything in their mouths, and often they grab items that could be quite dangerous to their health. One training client of mine had a pup that loved to swipe kitchen knives off the counter and run around the yard with them. Yikes! Drop It is one of the top 6 most important dog training commands that keep your dog safe, since you don't want your dog swallowing inappropriate items that could be toxic or cause an obstruction or internal tissue damage.

I love training Drop It using play as the main reward, such as a game of tug, fetch, or chasing a flirt pole. This sets you and your dog up to not rely on food treats for such an important, and possibly life-saving, behavior. Using the game of tug to teach Drop It also helps your dog learn proper play manners and builds their impulse control. Plus, playing with your dog is an excellent way to build a stronger bond. 

Drop It is used only when a dog already has something in their mouth that you need them to let go. If they haven't picked up an item yet, and you don't want them to, use the Leave It cue instead.

Want to learn more about your dog's behavior and get some training tips? We've  got 101 more for you here!

Read on to see how easy it is to teach your dog to drop things on cue.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dog Safety, Behavior & Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Benefits of training

3 Things You Need to Train If You Plan on Boating with Your Dog


Are you planning on bringing your pup on your next boating adventure? Boating with dogs can be tons of fun for both humans and canines. Take a little bit of time to teach your dog the following three things before going out on the water for a cruise to set everyone up for success. Practicing well before your first outing on the water will make the start of boating season that much easier and less stressful. By having these training skills in your toolbox, your trip will be safer and more enjoyable for everyone!

 Want to learn more about your dog's behavior and get some training tips? We've  got 101 more for you here!

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Topics: Puppy, Dog, Swimming, Boating, Water, Pet Travel Safety, Water hazards

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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