Pets running amok? Gadgets may help you

  • Wed Sep 30th, 2009 6:18pm
  • Life

By Jim Kjeldsen Special to The Herald

Remember when you succumbed to temptation and bought that adorable puppy home, only to discover that you had to train it to be a good dog? Or brought a kitty home and found that it was smarter than you, and you were the one who ended up being trained?

Kiss those days goodbye. The Digital Age has brought us all sorts of pet trainers and pet baby-sitters. You don’t even have to get close to Felix or Fido. Your pet will think the devil is doing the dirty work and come running back to you for love and attention. It’s a win-win situation.

Electronic devices head the list of pet-control products. When a dog or cat does something wrong, it receives a mild electronic “correction.”

(If you find that shocking, there are alternatives.) The correction is similar to a static electricity jolt after you slide your feet over the carpet and then grab a doorknob. The shock will distract your pet but not hurt it.

Other training devices use tone to correct a pet’s behavior. Warn a dog with the tone, then zap it. Eventually, the dog will learn that the tone will lead to a zap and will stop the bad behavior. Plus, your pet will associate the correction with the devil, not with you, and that will save a lot on your pet therapy bill.

Devices such as the IUT-300 UltraSmart Micro Dog Training Collar (about $200) use high-frequency sound that is audible to dogs and cats but barely perceptible to people. The sounds helps emphasize verbal commands, can be used alone for a conditioned response, or can be used to interrupt crummy behavior. Of course, you may find out that your pet is deaf and you’ve wasted your money, so be sure your loved one can hear before buying.

Devices such as the Pet Agree Trainer help emphasize verbal commands to sit, heel, stay, come, quiet or stay down, and can be used to call back your dog from a long distance. A huge plus is that the device can be used to keep stray or unleashed dogs from approaching.

The ScatMat conditions pets to avoid prohibited areas in your home with harmless electronic pulses. When touched, little zaps quickly repel most animals, who tend to stay away even after the mat is removed, just as you tend to keep away from places where the devil resides. Place the matt someplace where your pet loves to claw, scratch or pee, and the ScatMat sends a message while your pet is “thinking” about performing the naughty act. It usually only takes a couple of zaps before they get the idea.

Will the ScatMat kill your kid? No, the manufacturer says. Children will feel a mild static-electricity shock, which they are probably already familiar with because they’ve rubbed their little socks across the carpet and grasped a doorknob by now. The ScatMatt costs about $55.

Want your dog to ring you up before coming home? The PetSafe Doggie Doorbell will do the trick. A smart key tells the base unit that your pet is near, and warns you that your pet is ready to go out or come in.

The Indoor Zone Pet Containment System (about $75) can keep pets out of certain areas in your home. The transmitter broadcasts a radio frequency in the range you set it to. Your pet will get a tone and then a mild zap when it comes into signal range.

The Premium In-Ground Cat Fence keeps your cat in the yard and away from the neighbor’s dog. The Pawz Away Outdoor Dog Barrier is disguised as a rock to blend with any type of landscaping. Your dog can tell what it is, but other people can’t.

The Cat Veranda cat door ($78) claims to be the first window-mounted cat flap door that includes an open-air patio with covered roof and indoor lounging platform. Your cat can hang outside without leaving the house. There’s also the Infra-Red Cat Door ($100) in case you need one of those.

The Cozy Cabin Pet Car Seat ($105) attaches to the seat and headrest of your car, protecting your dog or cat while driving. It features a shoulder strap so you can use it as a pet carrier. The faux sheepskin interior bumpers make you feel better about jailing your pet.

And if you haven’t the heart for a zapper or a noise trainer, there’s the Remote Spray Trainer, which controls your pet with a shot of lemon-scented mist. You can blame that one on the devil too.

Then there’s the PetSafe Self-Cleaning Litter Box. Need we say more?

Nuisance cats

Stray cats can damage your plants and devastate wildlife such as songbirds. Unneutered cats also like to meet up in your backyard and howl the night away. There are alternatives to aiming a shotgun at your neighbor’s cat, however.

Ropel Granules are time-released granules that can be spread where cats like to lurk.

The smell of the granule is mild but irritating to cats and they move along to a place that doesn’t stink as much. Cat-repelling granules can be sprinkled out over the ground to create barrier that cats are loath to cross.

Ultrasound repellers can keep stray cats off your property, and they won’t bother birds or other wildlife. The USD Cat Stopper works on a small area with sound that’s irritating to cats but won’t affect other animals.

Animal Stay Away can keep pets out of small areas like plants, countertops, window sills or rooms. It has a motion detector with a range of just 3 feet, and sends out a noise that pets love to hate.

Equal rights

In the interests of equal justice for all animals, we offer you the Wordy Birdy digital speech trainer, the parrot potty trainer and complete fish-training kits.

Wordy Birdy allows you to record in your own voice whatever you wish your bird to learn. A push of the button repeats your words at intervals from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, until you shut it off. The “Time to Sing” compact disc contains 78 songs for your bird to learn.

Isn’t that nice?

The parrot potty training device is basically a diaper for birds. It attaches snuggly around the bird’s back and keel to avoid chafing of the wings, and keeps poop in place while Polly flies around.

The tropical fish training kit includes a notched rod and rings so you can train your fish to swim. Seriously. Not to be outdone, the R2 Fish School has more than 20 training devices, including basketball, football and fetch, to teach almost any fish to do tricks. It fits into most small aquariums and fish bowls. Remember, you heard it here first.