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Behavior Management Products

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 help keep pets under control, especially when outdoors. A cage or X-pen provides a safe comfortable home for pets, when the owners are not available to supervise.  Child locks and 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. Find a few products that are safe, durable and that appeal to your dog. Each dog is an individual. Many companies manufacture toys that can be stuffed or coated with food or treats or designed to require manipulation to release the food (Kong®, Kong® Biscuit Ball, Nylabone Crazy Ball™, Buster Cube™, Tricky Treats™).

Interactive toys provide an opportunity for social play with the owner.

The Mutt Puck™, Boomer Ball™, Water Kong™, and 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™). The Crazy Ball for Cats™, has a flashing ball that is activated by movement and delivers food as it is batted. The Kitty Kong® can be chased and batted, has rubber whiskers for chewing and a catnip impregnated tail.

Although some cats are chewers, they can usually be managed by keeping them away from problem areas, and by providing play toys or by planting a kitty herb garden (if the cat finds plants appealing to chew).

For both dogs and cats, dental chew toys, dental snacks and dental foods can serve a dual purpose (to promote good dental health and as a good target for chewing.

Another concern of cat owners is the damage that might be caused by scratching.

By providing a scratching post with a surface that appeals to your cat, scratching can be directed toward the post, rather than a favorite piece of furniture.

A product known as Pavlov's Cat™ delivers food treats each time the cat scratches the post. For scratching problems, plastic nail coverings, (Soft Paws™) are available that can be glued on to prevent damage. Also see handouts on ‘Destructiveness – Chewing' and ‘Destructiveness – Digging'.

What type of training collars help 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. The Gentle Leader® has been designed to be left attached for remote control with a pull on a remote leash. The Halti™ and Snoot Loop™ offer fits that might better suit some dogs, but have not been designed to be left attached. Body harnesses (K9 Pull Control™, Lupi™) will effectively stop pulling, but provide poor control.

What products help with house-soiling problems?

For indoor house-soiling you should purchase commercial odor eliminators to ensure that the pet is not attracted back to the spot by the residual odor. Your pet's sense of smell is extremely acute, so don't rely on commercial cleansers to do the job. Odor eliminators use chemicals, bacteria or enzymes to break down the odor entirely. Some products are available as concentrates, which can then be diluted so that there is a sufficient amount to saturate the entire area. Also available is Nature's Miracle® Black Light that can be useful for detecting previous elimination spots and a moisture sensor that can be useful for finding moist areas where the surfaces appear dry (see product list below). For cats, a synthetic cheek gland pheromone Feliway® is now available that can be sprayed on areas where the cat might be inclined to spray or mark, in order to reduce marking.

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. Correction s intended to reduce the probability of a behavior in the future. To be successful, correction must be administered during misbehavior, and must be sufficiently noxious to deter the pet. If a training device is not effective immediately, discontinue its use, and seek additional advice.

Why do some behavior products utilize shock?

For correction to be effective, it must be sufficiently aversive to overcome the pet's motivation to perform the behavior. For this reason, some correction devices use "shock" to deter the pet. When selecting a retraining device, you will need to consider the pet's motivation to perform the behavior, the severity of the problem, the type of punishment that is most likely to be effective, and the consequences to the owner or the pet if the problem is allowed to continue. While devices that use shock should be considered as a last resort before a family "gives up" the pet, they may on occasion be the fastest, most effective, most economical, or most practical means of dealing with serious problems (e.g. excessive barking, destroying furniture). Shock devices also provide an alternative to confinement as they can be used to keep pets away from potential problem areas. Therefore, it might be argued that when a shock device causes minimal fear or discomfort, is immediately successful in deterring the pet, and there are no other practical options, then its benefit might be weighed against the discomfort (i.e. short-term pain for long term gain). In addition, products that pair a warning tone with the uncomfortable stimulus can minimize exposure since most pets learn to retreat when they hear the tone or learn to avoid the area. Whenever an electronic shock product is used be certain that the manufacturer is experienced and reputable and that the product is of high quality.

It is important to note that even a highly noxious correction may not be sufficient to overcome reflexive, innate or highly motivated behaviors.  Consider, for example, the dog that continues to pursue porcupines after a faceful of quills.

What products help training when the owner is present to supervise?

Physical forms of correction 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 correction 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 help stop pets that misbehave in the owner's presence?

Direct correction or disruption devices include audible trainers (Barker Breaker™, Sonic Pet Trainer™) ultrasonic trainers (Pet-Agree™, Easy Trainer™, Ultrasonic Pet Trainer™) or a citronella spray (Interrupt™). Rape alarms, water rifles, and compressed air may also be effective.

Why should the owner remain out of sight during punishment?

If correction can be administered while the owner remains out of sight, the pet will not associate the "punishment" with the owner. On the other hand, 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.

What devices can be used to correct a pet while remaining out of sight?

A remote air or citronella spray collar and a number of remote shock 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, placing a remote spray device on a surface and activating it remotely might teach cats to stay away from 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, predators, barbed wire, sprinklers, and other unpleasantries in their environment.

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 utilize either shock or citronella spray collars to keep dogs within selected boundaries. As the pet approaches the transmitter wire, there is first a warning tone, and then activation of the collar if the pet does not retreat out of range. Motion activated alarms (Critter Gitter™), ultrasonic deterrents (Cat and Dog Stop®, Yard Garden Pest Control®), The ScareCrow™ (a motion detector sprinkler) and pet repellents might keep the owner's pet out of areas on the property (e.g. garden) or stray animals off the property.

Indoor devices: Shock or citronella 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 and home security devices may also be effective. 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 with minimal discomfort. A citronella spray motion activated device (Smart Cap®) is in development, to keep cats away from selected areas.

A number of dog doors have been designed to be activated only by the pet wearing the activation collar or "key". A similar cat product is in development.

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, a spray of citronella or electronic stimulation (shock) with each bark. The audible and ultrasonic devices are seldom sensitive, specific, or noxious enough to be effective. The most effective antibark collars have proven to be the citronella spray or the electronic shock collars. To ensure consistency and safety only products from reputable manufacturers should be selected.


Direct Interactive Devices
Barker Breaker (sonic), Amtek Pet Behavior Products, 11025 Sorrento Valley Court, San Diego, CA, 92121, 800-762-7618, 858-597-6681
Interrupt / Direct Stop Repellent, (citronella spray), US: ABS Inc, 5909-G. Breckenridge Pkwy, Tampa FL, 33610-4253, 800-627-9447, CAN: Multivet, P.O Box 651, St-Hyacinthe, QC, J2S7P5, 800-303-0244, 888-456-2626
Easy Trainer (ultrasonic)/Ultrasonic Pet Trainer, Radio Systems Incorporated, 10738 Dutch Town Road Knoxville, TN, 37914, 800-732-2677, 865-777-5404
K-9 Bark Stopper/Sonic Pet Trainer (audible), Innotek Pet Products Inc., 1000 Fuller Drive, Garrett, Indiana, 46738, 800-826-5527, 219-357-3148
Pet Agree / Dazzer (ultrasonic), KII Enterprises, P.O. 306, Camillus, NY 13031, U.S.: 800-262-3963, 315-468-3596

Monitoring Devices:
Tattle Tale, (vibration motion sensor), KII Enterprises, see above

Remote Devices
ABS Remote Trainer (citronella spray), US: ABS Inc, CAN: Spray Commander, Multivet
Pet Pager, Vibration stimulation remote collar, Radio Systems Inc.
Tritronics Inc., (remote shock), 1705 S. Research Loop, Tucson, AZ, 85710, 800-456-4343, 520-290-4204 and also from Innotek Inc., and Radio Systems Inc.

Booby traps (Environmental Punishment Devices)
Indoor and Outdoor Pet Citronella Spray Containment Systems, USA: ABS Inc., CAN: Spray Barrier (Indoor citronella spray containment system), Virtual Fence (outdoor citronella spray system), Multivet Inc.
Indoor and Outdoor Electronic Containment Systems, Invisible Fencing, (electronic stimulation) US: 355 Phoenixville Pike, Malvern, PA, 19355, 800-538-3647 or Radio Systems Incorporated
Scat Mat, (electronic stimulation mat), ScareCrow, motion activated sprinkler, Contech Electronics, P.O. Box 115, Saanichton, BC, V8M 2C3, Canada, 800-767-8658, 250-652-0755
Pet Mat, Radio Systems Incorporated
Scraminal /Critter Gitter, Scratcher Blaster, Amtek Pet Behavior Products
Snappy Trainer, Interplanetary Incorporated, 12441 West 49th St., Suite 8, Wheatridge, CO, 80033, 888-477-4738, 303-940-3228
SofaSaver, Abbey Enterprises, 1130 Summerset St. New Brunswick, N.J 08901, 732-873-4242

Electronic Doors
From Staywell, Solo, PetMate, Cat Mate, Johnson, PetSafe: www.catdoor.com, www.dogdoor.com, www.petdoors.com
Electronic or Electromagnetic – pet exits without a key but entry only by key which releases latch
From High Tech Pet Products – Power Pet Door- http://store.yahoo.com/hightechpet

Bark Activated Devices:
A.B.S (US)/Aboistop (CAN). (Citronella Spray collar), ABS Inc. (US), Multivet (CAN)
Electronic stimulation bark collars available from Radio Systems, Innotek, and Tritronics - see above
K-9 Bark Stopper (audible bark activated), Innotek Inc.
Silencer Bark Activated Collar, (ultrasonic bark activated collar), Radio Systems Inc.
Super Barker Breaker, (audible bark activated) Amtek Pet Behavior Products, see above

Head Halters:
Gentle Leader / Promise: (head collar), Premier Pet Products, 527 Branchway Rd., Richmond, VA, 23236, 800-933-5595, Canada: Professional Animal Behaviour Associates Inc., P.O. Box 25111, London, ON, N6C 6A8, 519-685-4756
Halti, Coastal Pet Products, 911 Leadway Avenue, Alliance, Ohio, 44601, 800-321-0248
Snoot Loop, Animal Behavior Consultants Inc., 102 Canton Court, Brooklyn, NY, 11229, 718-891-4200, 800-339-9505

No Pull Halters
K9 Pull Control, Dog Crazy Co., 6640 Cobra Way, San Diego, CA 92121, 619-824-0400
Lupi, Coastal Pet Products, 911 Leadway Avenue, Alliance, Ohio, 44601, 800-321-0248

Exercise, Play and Chew Products
Ask your veterinarian for suggestions on products that might be most suitable for your pet.

Odor eliminators
Ask your veterinarian for suggestions on products that might be most suitable for your household.

GUEST AUTHORS: This client information sheet is based on material written by Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB and Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB. © Copyright 2002 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. March 11, 2004.

...::::::: Copyright 2004 Animal Behavior Network :::::::...