Young girl with two DogWatch dogs

Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Hidden Dog Fence

Adapted from a Blog Post by Emily West, DogWatch of Columbus (Columbus, OH)

We hear often that the underground fence is “one of the best investments” our customers have ever made. (Don’t believe us? Check out our testimonials page.) But now the tricky part begins:  how to choose what type of system and who to install it for you? Obviously we hope you choose DogWatch®, but we recognize there are other options out there. Here’s a list of questions you should definitely ask of any company that comes out for an estimate or when comparing store-bought brands.
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Choosing the Right Dog Collar for Your Dog

Two weeks ago, we took a journey into the often outrageous world of dog accessories. After listening to your reactions, we find that Dog Tails readers are strongly divided on the subject. Some Dog Tails dogs proudly sport their custom outfits and other “bling” as they walk around the town, while others refuse to wear anything other their own fur and a smile. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, all dogs wear one important accessory for most of their lives – a collar.

This week, DogWatch Hidden Fences provides you with tips on how to select the perfect collar for your dog. We also share some tips on how to make sure your pet’s DogWatch collar is properly fitted.

Traditional Collars

For most dogs, a simple collar around the neck is all they need. Yet in today’s booming world of dog products, there are countless collar options to choose from, each with their own unique benefits. From a fashion perspective, there is no limit to the number of colors, patterns or fabrics to choose from. (Have a favorite sports team? There’s probably a collar with their logo and colors on it!)

Greyhound in Martingale collarFrom a utilitarian perspective, there is also a wide variety of collar features to meet your dog’s specific needs. “Break-away” collars include an easy-to-release buckle that prevent your dog from choking should they get tangled up during play or other situations.  Martingale collars are popular among greyhound owners, who need a collar that will not slip over their dog’s thin, slick frame but will also not be too tight for the dog’s comfort. These collars (see image at left) have an adjustable design that pulls tighter when the dog attempts to pull away and loosens when the dog relaxes.

Just as important as selecting the correct collar, dog owners must make sure that the collar is properly fitted. The collar should fit snugly but not too tightly around the dog’s neck – a good guide is to leave enough room for you to fit two fingers in between the collar and your dog’s neck. The collar should also be tight enough so that it cannot slip off the dog’s head. Finally, collar fit is particularly important for growing puppies. Check your puppy’s collar fit regularly and adjust as needed. You can also use a tape measure to measure their neck, adding two inches so as not to restrict breathing or movement.

Harnesses and Halters

Neck collars are an easy way to display your dog’s all-important ID, registration and immunization tags, but they are not the best or safest way to fasten a leash and guide the dog through their daily walks, especially if your dog tends to enthusiastically pull ahead of you, unexpectedly take off to chase squirrels, etc.  For most dogs, the use of a harness, such as the ones shown in the picture to the right, is a safer more comfortable option.

Dog in harnessHarnesses are particularly beneficial for walking small dogs, who can slip out of traditional collars. They are also recommended for brachycephalic breeds (i.e. those with pushed-in faces, such as pugs and bulldogs), to prevent further breathing problems. If your dog pulls on the leash, a front-clip harness such as SENSE-ation or Easy Walk can help control pulling and encourage the dog to heel.

Similarly, Halters are a traditional collar substitute that also acts as a training tool. Halters actually wrap around the dog’s snout instead of the neck, and, like front-clip harnesses, apply gentle pressure that encourages the dog to stop pulling, jumping or engaging in other problem behaviors on their walk.  Popular halter brands are Gentle Leader and Halti. It is important to note that these collars should be fitted with care, as they can be overly restrictive or, the reverse, ineffective, if not fitted correctly. Dog owners often benefit from working with a professional trainer at the beginning of the halter training process.

DogWatch Collars

Your dog doesn’t have to stop exercising and enjoying the outdoors after you are finished with your walk. DogWatch Hidden Fences pet containment systems allow your dog to run freely and safely in your yard, exploring the outdoors as they were born to do. The specially-designed DogWatch collar is a key part of this system.

Jack Russell terrier wearing DogWatch collarHere are seven quick tips to make sure the DogWatch receiver collar on your dog’s neck is properly placed:

  1. The collar should be worn snugly on the dog’s neck. This is extremely important!
  2. Place no more than one thumb width between the contact post and dog’s neck.
  3. When checking snugness of collar, the dog’s neck should be facing down (sniffing position) as this is where the dog’s neck is the smallest.
  4. If the collar is too tight, it might cause skin irritation if worn for long periods of time without being removed occasionally.
  5. If the collar is too loose, the dog will not receive the intended correction if he or she wanders into the Avoidance Zone.
  6. Remember to periodically check for irritation around the dog’s neck.
  7. DogWatch recommends that the collar be removed daily for some period of time, such as when the dog is inside the house or overnight.

The lesson here is to adjust the collar as needed. Remember — collar fit is critical! During colder months, you dog’s fur may be thicker and you may need to trim some of the fur under the receiver collar to ensure proper fit. If your dog has a naturally thick coat, you may need to trim the fur year-round. Longer contact posts are available for especially heavy-coated dogs.

Your DogWatch dealer with help you fit, test and adjust the collar to make sure it is comfortable and works properly. Feel free to reach out to them or to DogWatch Customer Service (available Monday to Friday, 9AM-5PM EST at (800) 793-3436, extension 622) with any questions regarding collar fit.

Now that you know all about dog collars, we encourage you to get out there and enjoy some playtime, fetch and long walks with your canine best friend! Summer is almost here, and we can’t wait!

Does your dog have a cool collar?  We’d love to see and share it here!

Greyhound image credit: JAGwired via Flickr.

Boston Terrier image credit: Lee Nachtigal via Flickr.

Bring On the Doggie Bling!

LucyIt’s a beautiful, sunny spring day and Lucy is strutting down Boston’s posh Commonwealth Avenue like she owns it. Her black hair is glistening in the mid-day sun, and crystals are sparking around her neck. All around her, people stop and stare as she strolls by, walking with all the poise and confidence of a top runway model. Lucy pauses for a moment and takes it all in; she’s high-fashion, and she knows it, and she loves the attention. So, who is this Lucy? An up-and-coming model? An about-to-be-discovered starlet? Guess again. Lucy (shown at right)  is a two year-old Chihuahua-Pug mix, and one of a growing number of posh puppies decked out in today’s newest canine fashion trend: “doggie bling.”

With celebs like Oprah, Jessica Simpson, and even Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner decking their pooches out in the finest jewels and couture brands, it’s no wonder we here at DogWatch Hidden Fences have been seeing a rise in the presence of bejeweled best friends. From Swarovski crystals to designer logos, today’s pooches have the chance to be more stylish than ever before.

High-end boutiques, couturiers, internet shops, and big-box pets stores alike are all carrying a large assortment of dazzling and trendy collars for your fashion-forward furry friend. A quick Google search for “doggie bling” turned up literally thousands of results. It would appear that what was once looked at as eccentric has, in fact, become “de mode.”

Dog Wearing Jewelled CollarIf your dog is already rocking a DogWatch collar (as all the coolest pets are these days!), not to worry; sleeker collar styles, like Coach’s signature logo collar, will fit just fine underneath it. You don’t need to limit yourself to collars, however; doggie bling exists in all manner of forms! There’s the sophistication of a Louis Vuitton logo leash, or perhaps a Gucci dog bag?

Not prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars for these designer dog items? Don’t worry, you are (definitely) not alone. If you want your Main Street pup to look like a Madison Avenue couture pooch without the hefty price tag, you can try one of these fun, affordable options. You can paint her nails with non-toxic puppy polish. (We hear Lucy prefers pink.) Many dog stores carry collars with faux jewels and unique designs that will make you dog stand out. For the crafty dog owner, adding a pendant charm to your pup’s collar or bedazzling a leash is another inexpensive way to keep up with the latest canine fashion trends.

Need some inspiration before embarking on your own “Project Runway”-style doggie fashion project? The Domestic diva herself, Martha Stewart, is the proud owner of two French bulldogs, and loves to create beautiful, charming and functional things for them. She regularly features dog- themed design projects on her website, ranging from simple – like fastening a silk flower to your dog’s collar - to challenging – like making a fleece-lined dog coat. Try them out, and you’ll be proud to answer back when someone asks you: “Where did you find that gorgeous item?”

For inside the home, bowls and beds fit for royalty abound. From gold food and water dishes to canopy beds, your dog can truly live the luxe life! Again, you can decorate these items at home, creating a custom item to suit your dog’s unique personality.

After all, you and she know she’s fabulous; why shouldn’t everyone else?

We invite you to share your photos of your decked-out dogs on the DogWatch Facebook page and via Twitter. The more fabulous the better!

Top photo credit: Jaclyn Mosher

Bottom photo credit: Gary Knight via Flickr

Help Protect the Right to Keep Your Pets Safe

U.K. MapThis week on Dog Tails, we want to bring to your attention a recent controversial decision concerning electronic radio collars (e-collars) for dogs and cats. These radio collars (often mistakenly referred to as ‘electric’ collars) are widely used worldwide for pet training and containment. None-the-less, all e-collars have been banned for any purpose in Wales (see map), including for use with hidden underground fences. In addition to voicing our objection to such a blanket ban, we want to alert you to the possibility of this ban spreading to England, Wales’ neighbor to the east.

What was a debate between individual dog owners about whether to use electronic collars became political when the Welsh Assembly – supported by several animal rights groups – banned the collars outright. The ban went into effect one week ago (March 24, 2010). Punishments for noncompliance include fines of up to 20,000 pounds (approximately $32,000) and six months in prison. There is now talk of introducing a similar ban in England.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), who support the ban, argue that there is “no place for shock collars in modern animal training and recommended the use of reward-based methods instead.” Opponents argue that the ban will have a negative effects on a large portion of the dog and cat populations. (There were roughly 20,000 e-collars in use in Wales prior to the ban.) They point to the animals whose lives have been saved by pet containment systems, and aggressive dogs who benefited from e-collar training and as a result, kept their homes or found new ones. In passing the ban in Wales, the legislature seems to have largely ignored the positive aspects of e-collars, the safety features and the lack of evidence that e-collars cause either pain or harm when properly used.

As a company that specializes in pet containment systems, DogWatch Hidden Fences has a clear stake in this debate. Yet in addition to being professionals, we are also pet owners and pet lovers ourselves. We believe that electronic radio collars are a valuable and effective tool to help you keep your dog or cat safe, healthy and happy for life. Our hidden fence collars are designed not to inflict pain, but rather to protect pets from potentially life-threatening injuries caused by automobiles and other dangers when they leave their yards. Hidden fences allow your pet to run and play outdoors as they were born to do. We like nothing better than to see a dog or cat enjoying the freedom of roaming free in their backyard, sniffing and digging and rolling around to their heart’s content. Banning e-collars, especially for pet containment systems, will cause more harm than good.

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