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Cathy Madson, MA, CPDT-KA, ABCDT

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 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

Choosing the Best Dog Crate for Your Dog and Your Life


Crate training your dog is one of the best things you can do — not only is it an extremely helpful training tool for potty training, it can also help provide a safe place for your dog to retreat to when they're anxious. It also gives you a positive management tool when you need to prevent unwanted behaviors (like jumping on guests), and can also be used for safe containment while traveling.

After you've chosen a crate you'll want to learn Read More

Topics: Crate Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Dog, Crates, Crate training your puppy, Puppy crate training, Crate training dogs, Crate training puppies, Puppy crate training tips, Crate training tips, Crate training a puppy, Crate training your dog, Dog crate training, new puppy, puppy tips

How to Stop Your Dog From Counter Surfing


Counter surfing can be one of the most frustrating behaviors for dog owners to deal with — you might have spent hours on that perfect pot roast, only to have your pup sneak into the kitchen behind your back and pilfer it off the counter.

Not only is this annoying, but it can be dangerous for your dog if they steal food that is toxic or contains xylitol (which is highly toxic to dogs!) Some dogs scarf the item down so quickly that they choke or it causes an obstruction in their gastrointestinal system.

Let's look at why dogs counter surf in the first place, and what you can do to stop it.

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Topics: Dog Safety, Behavior & Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, counter surfing

Go Fetch! Top 10 Best Fetch Toys for Your Dog


Does your dog love to play fetch? Fetch is a great way to exercise your dog, strengthens the bond between you and your dog, and has the added benefit of helping train your dog's Come-When-Called and Drop-It cues. You can play fetch any time, indoors or outdoors, whenever your dog needs to burn some extra energy.

You might have a breed that's predisposed to love playing fetch (a Labrador or Golden Retriever), or maybe you've trained your dog to play fetch — some dogs prefer a regular ole' ball, while others prefer stick-like toys. Still others prefer to catch frisbees or chase floating toys so they can play in the water on a hot summer day.

Do you have a small breed dog? Tiny pups can enjoy fetch too, as long as their fetch toys are the correct size and weight, and I've included some great fetch toy options for small breeds below.

It's fun to try out different fetch toys and switch them out every so often for your dog's mental enrichment. Let's take a look at some different high-quality toys to try out next time you play fetch with your pup!

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Topics: Puppy, Dog, Playing Fetch, Dog toys, Fetch

Choosing Your Dog's Leash


When choosing what walking tools and supplies to outfit your new pup with, the variety of options seems endless! Leashes are an important training tool, and something that you’ll use almost every day — which means it’s important for you to find one that matches your needs and preferences.

You’ll see dog owners walking their pups on lots of different widths and lengths, styles, materials, and even different clasp and handle types. Which is best for you and your dog?

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Topics: Leashes, Loose-leash Walking, Puppy Training, Puppy, Walking on a Leash, Dog, Are retractable leashes safe, Dangers of retractable leashes, Dog Leash, Retractable Leash, new puppy, puppy tips

Teach Your Dog the Automatic Sit


Imagine walking with your dog around town and coming up to a crosswalk at a busy intersection. Your dog sits automatically with no verbal cue or prompting from you when you stop at the curb — not only do you and your pup look like obedience rockstars, but your dog is safe since they aren’t walking straight out into traffic.

Now imagine you encounter a friend while on your walk around town. Instead of rushing up to them and jumping, your dog sits politely at your side and waits while you two humans stop and chat. This can be your reality with some easy and consistent training!

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Topics: Dog Training, Dog Safety, Loose-leash Walking, Behavior & Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Walking on a Leash, Dog, Benefits of training, Sit & Stay

Dog Harnesses: Helpful Tools for Loose Leash Walking


Teaching your dog how to walk politely on their leash is a lot easier and safer if you use a body harness.

Not only is a dog who pulls against their collar while on leash hard to control, but they're also in danger of some major health risks! Dogs who pull on leash can suffer a collapsed trachea, nerve damage, and other neck and throat injuries. For brachycephalic breeds (short-skulled and flat-faced dogs like Pugs, Boxers, French Bulldogs, etc.) harnesses are best to prevent any pressure on the neck and throat and exacerbating their already delicate face and short nasal airway. Using a harness helps to prevent these injuries from occurring and can also help you in training your dog to walk politely on leash.

A harness is a great alternative to aversive collars, giving you better control with a large, strong dog without relying on pain and discomfort. Harnesses provide another option for dogs that tend to slip or back out of their collars, as it's harder to wiggle out of a body harness than a regular flat collar. 

There are many kinds of harnesses and it’s important that you find the right kind for you and your dog. Keep reading to find out more about all the options.

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Topics: Dog Training, Leashes, Dog Collars, Dog Harnesses, Loose-leash Walking, Dogs

Press Pause: How to Manage Dog Play


Dog play can seem overwhelming to us humans — dogs will wrestle, chase, and many pups make lots of noise during play time. Not to mention there’s lots of play biting and teeth-jousting!

If your dog has been well socialized and learned how to communicate clearly during play with other dogs, they'll likely be able to enjoy playtime with their dog friends without any issues. But, just like humans, dogs can be unpredictable, and we need to be prepared to step in to keep play safe for all dogs involved, by having them take a quick break from the fun.

When and how do we do this? You have to know how to recognize proper dog play in order to know when it’s escalating into inappropriate play and getting closer to a fight, so you can press pause and allow the dogs to reset.

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Topics: Dog Safety, Puppy, Dog, Dog Tips, Dog Body Language, Multi-dog household, how to play with your dog, Dog communication

4 Easy Steps to Teach Your Dog to Go Potty On Cue


We’ve all been there – tapping our foot waiting in the dark or the rain for our dog to do their business. Don’t they know we’ve got things to do and people to see?

Teaching your dog to go to the bathroom on cue can be helpful in saving you time, as well as helping you potty train your pup. It’s easy as a puppy to get distracted by the sights and sounds outside and forget the purpose of the outing in the first place; sometimes they need a little reminder. Let's put it on cue!

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Topics: Dog Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Dog, Pee-Pad Training, Potty Training, new puppy, puppy tips

How to Use Dog Training Treats the Right Way


When you begin training your dog, it’s all about finding a reward that your dog is willing to work for. When we go to work, we expect a paycheck, and it’s only fair that we pay our dogs in their preferred currency for a job well done.

I don’t know about you, but I’d probably accept bacon as my preferred currency. Maybe that’s where the saying bringing home the bacon came from … but I don’t think bacon would pay the bills. (And please don't ever give your dog bacon... it's a sure recipe for painful and expensive pancreatitis!) 

Thankfully, almost every dog I’ve met is willing to do things for a piece of kibble, and even more excited to work for a little piece of chicken or cheese. You can take full advantage of your dog's desire for food, if you go about it the right way. Treats are just one tool in our dog training toolkit, and a very powerful one.

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Topics: Puppy Training, What are Good Training Treats for Dogs, Puppy, Dog, Dog Treats, new puppy, puppy tips, Puppy treats, Dog treats for training

How to Clicker Train Name Recognition


Attention is an important part of your relationship with your dog, and you can create a simple way to get your dog’s attention by teaching them their name.

This can be useful in a variety of situations; it’s a wonderful way to prevent unwanted behaviors, such as barking at a passing bicycle or grabbing a piece of trash off the sidewalk. If your pup is too busy looking towards you, they can’t be barking at things or chewing on inappropriate items.

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Topics: Puppy Training, Puppy, Dog, Dog Behavior, new puppy, puppy tips, Dog communication

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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