Over the years I have had clients who lived in apartments with balconies or who, because of housing association rules, could not put up fences with slats close enough together to prevent a dog from slipping through.
Recently I was listening to an older comedy skit where the comedian joked about needing The Club for his dogs to help prevent them from escaping through holes in fences. Well, there is a wonderful product, developed and made here in Virginia, that will help those of you with dogs and fencing gaps: Puppy Bumpers.
Puppy Bumpers are stuffed, fabric collars that add width to a dog’s neck making it harder to go through many spaces. They are the brainchild of Ann Price thanks to her Maltese, Daisy. Daisy was small enough to squeeze through various spaces, including the balcony rails of Ann’s condo. Ann tried different things to prevent Daisy from sliding out – but they were all unattractive.
While at a friend’s house, preparing for a boat ride, Ann noticed that, while wearing a canine life vest, Daisy couldn’t slip through a wrought iron fence. This is what is called a light-bulb moment.
After various trials, Ann developed the Puppy Bumper (trademark and patent-protected), named by her husband. Puppy Bumpers are a humane alternative to the shock fences I have known owners of small dogs to consider when their homeowners associations only allow certain fences that smaller dogs can slip through.
I have had many clients in communities where residents installed shock fences inside the fences permitted by the HOA. However, shock fences are not safe and increase the risk of behavioral concerns. Puppy Bumpers do not have this fallout. (For more on the fallout of shock fences, please see my August 2020 column, “No Shock, Sherlock.”)
At first, Ann sewed each collar in her kitchen. Eventually, orders from catalogs started rolling in and more help was needed. A blind friend told Ann about a group named STEPS – Southside Training, Employment and Placement Services, which trains people with disabilities for employment opportunities. At any time, an average of four to five people are making Puppy Bumpers.
Although Ann could have sent manufacturing overseas to fill orders for big department stores, she wanted to keep the company local and it’s now based in Richmond. Not long ago she joined with another company, Litterboy.com LLC. However, Ann is still involved with the product, and according to the web site, STEPS is still manufacturing the Puppy Bumpers.
If you have a dog who can slip through your fence or if you have a balcony and are concerned about the railings and you want to support a small Virginia business and in turn support employment for those with disabilities, check out Puppy Bumpers.
Karen Peak is the developer of The Safe Kids/Safe Dogs Project and owner/operator of West Wind Dog Training in Prince William County.