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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Slobber Stopper prototype one and two

The card  that came with the original Slobber Stopper
  

Slobber Stoppers


I have to admit that this is not a product I would have sought out and may never even have heard of if it were not for all the controversy surrounding it on face book, particularly on the Newfoundland page.

  Ah face book, the who’s who of praise, petty, witty, joyous, angered, and jokester people of the new social world!   Everyone’s opinion is heard and counts on Face Book! Upon Face Book is a new democracy! 


 This product had so much controversy that it was the cause for the start of a Change.org  petition which you can see here:  Link



Upon my first glance at the slobber stopper that was posted on Face Book I thought it was part of a costume, after all, Halloween had just recently loomed around us and the picture I saw of this gadget made  it look like a cow costume which covered the Newfoundland’s face.  As I read further down the posts I realized that all those posting were appalled that such a contraption be placed over a Newfie’s face as it looked like a muzzle. Of course we all hear the horror stories of large breed dangerous dogs and the laws against them and many thought that putting this on their Newfoundland Dog and taking them out in public would stir up the public’s fear of the dog or the breed. I would agree that something like this particular design might frighten people but I wondered what people would have thought if the material rather than the drab color shown on the picture were bright and cheerful or if the material made the dog look like it was smiling. Would the same reaction come from the general public or would they too think it was part of a costume design?  I have to say that my Newfoundlands, having been mascots and therapy dogs, no matter what I put on them, no one could resist stopping to pet them. In fact my black Newfs with the huge jowls and dreamy eyes seem to go against the public opinion poll that dogs with black faces are more frightening than those with tan or white faces.  Even people who are normally afraid of dogs were not afraid of my big slobbery Newfs. Was it only because they were cute or because they were well trained? Who knows, they got attention and loved it and that is all that mattered!    

As someone who is on a team that aids animals in a disaster my thought was that if this was a muzzle it looked to be a better fitting one  than one I have ever seen in a Vet office.  All of my Newfs can get the vet office muzzle off if they wanted too, so as a responder aiding a possible injured animal this looked like mighty  nice muzzle for my protection and all the better if the dog could still eat and drink as it claimed.   We all know that even the gentlest of dogs when wounded will bite if it hurts enough.      

So, I found myself on the product maker’s Face Book page which you can see at this Link.  to learn what all the hoopla was about and still found many angered Dog owners as well as the product maker, also a Newf owner, trying to defend himself.   I posted some of my honest thoughts on uses for this product because I don’t want to go by a picture alone basing my end all opinion. The maker of the product in turn stated he would send me a few to examine.   I was sent three different products as I suspect there were either size difference which to me did not appear to be or   I was sent three so that if I liked them then I would be able to change them throughout the day.   Through the Thanksgiving holiday I really did not have the time to experiment, but afterward I had and was about to  go to post on the topic when the maker  contacted me and asked that I hold off as through the holiday he had been redesigning them and would send me a new prototype. So I complied to see what the new product would look like.   
Thus is why you are all here I am sure! J        

When it comes to my Newf’s drool, especially with them out in the public as therapy dogs or mascots for long periods of time I would go through at least 5 to 6 thick terry hand towels and as each became wet I would hang it somewhere to dry to reuse if needed. It was not unusual for me to take a small suitcase of towels for a four or five hour outing in public.  Of course these towels were also used to dry their faces after a drink of water. I do have the terry cloth bibs which are cute but they did not last long for what I was doing in public.  


Examining the Original product:  

Here’s what I found

When I got the original package in the mail there were three slobber stoppers
The material is indeed extremely lightweight. In fact it is more of a forgiving material than that of the thunder shirt which I have tried it the past.  The stretchy material reminded me of what parents put on their children when they take them to the beach or pool area so that the kids do not get sunburned, possibly even lighter since it is only made to cover a small area.


The inside material (Hemp-Bamboo) the “diaper” that goes under the mouth near the jowls was a very soft material that I have seen in soft lightweight blankets made for children during  my years as an early education.

The seams of the product were sewn together well also.

The Second improved product:

As stated a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving I was sent a new prototype. This Slobber Stopper had material that was not as forgiving. The band that went around the nose while not as wide as the original seemed to be made of covered elastic about a ½ inch wide. The part that went around the head /ear part was not material but a snap/hitch similar to a snap collar.

The diaper part seemed a bit thicker but it was hard to tell because of the elastic that went around the nose.   

The Human Testing:

Yes, yes I know that human muscles and dog muscles are somewhat different as are their breathing habits and cooling habits However sparing you the gory details, please know that I tested this product on myself first in a variety of places on my body. Places where I would hold in heat, where I would breathe and where there would be folds of skin!  I also kept this product on myself for as long as the maker of the product says he keeps it on his dog  which if I remember correctly might have been about 3 hours at a time. 


First let me state that I DO NOT test anything on my dogs before testing it on myself as it pertains to being on their body for any length of time. 



TESTING THE DOGS

After the satisfaction that I suffered no bodily damage when I placed this product on myself for a couple of hours, such as no cuts, bruising, or other distresses, I next tested it on the dogs. I had no intention of leaving it on them for hours at a time though; this was just a test of function. The testing was to see if they could indeed eat, drink, and breath fine without restrictions as the product claims. I also wanted to see how easy it was to get on and off as well as the dog’s reaction to wearing it. Of course like any new product where covering the nose is concerned, and I am thinking of the Halti or gentle leader,  many dogs don't care for things being placed over their face so you would want to pick a dog who does not mind such stuff or you would need to train the dog to adjust to its use. I did not see any such training instructions in the package sent to me with this product, but it is still in the patent stage.  However the card that came in the packages stated that the dog can do everything it would normally do if it were not wearing the slobber stopper.


    Two Newfs

The two Newfs tested were father and son. The father being a happy go lucky fella but one whom if bothered by something would let you know. The son being a retired therapy dog who is used too many things being placed on him and whose demeanor is more calm and forgiving.

  There was no problem putting it on the son, he did not squirm and did not try to take it off or paw at it as I was placing it on him. Getting the ears through the ear holes of the product was a bit difficult due to the size of the product and the dog’s head.  The father on the other hand protested greatly, though his head was smaller so it was easier to get on.  Granted, there was a brief time when the father finally chilled out with this on him, but it did not last very long and I could not see him keeping him in this for hours at a time. In fact, I could see if he were not properly trained and supervised to wear it he could easily have gotten the nose or mouthpiece stuck over his bottom jaw while trying to paw it off  causing him to get hurt. I also worried about the material having such elasticity to it, if a dog was struggling to get this off,  could it become twisted enough to cut off circulation around the snout? He struggled so that I do believe that if left to his own devices it would have been possible for him  to get into trouble.

The Fit

Product One

I placed at least three fingers in every part of this item to see how much space was allotted such as in the head area, the snout, the mouth, and the ears. There were parts that were very constricting. For example the part that goes around the head, where the company slogan is, was very tight. The places around the ears were also very tight especially on the son who has a very large head. How this would feel if he were suffering an ear ache I can only imagine.  

Product two
The same two dogs were tested.
The second improved  Slobber Stopper I was sent did not fit at all. The band around the nose was extremely tight and I could not get the collar type part around either of dog's head/neck area.  As well the snap came off of its holder/collar part.

   

Eating and Drinking :

Product one
Yes, they could both eat and drink, however eating a biscuit seemed to give them difficulty. It seemed that they could not maneuver their mouths correctly to properly chew the pieces of a large biscuit which is something they would always get in this house so that was concerning. The restriction of mouth movement can be seen in the video and in the pictures.

Although they each got biscuits I also gave the son a small bit of dog kibble in his dish. I did not want to give the normal amount of kibble because getting food from a pile is much easier then when the dog gets to the bottom of the dish and food is lying flat and sticking to the bowl.  The son ate the food without incident. What I could see happening though is that the more he ate the more the muzzle strap started to fold over and I wondered if over time would it completely roll causing that one area to have more of a constricting force, much like when one wears socks that are too tight and they leave behind that red indent around the leg eventually cutting off some circulation.

Product two
was never tested for eating or drinking as it did not fit so a fair comparison could be made.


Drinking: 

Product One
Yes they could drink but it was not the normal way they would lap something up, but they could get water. So again it came back to the concerns of restriction of mouth’s ability to move freely.  Also after a drink, the son’s “diaper” area of the mouth was soaked. The father with the smaller jowls did not have this same wetness.

 Product two
again not tested because of fitting


The product Pros and Cons

Pros: product one and two:

I could not find any pros for this product for its intended use.


Cons:

Product one:
The chewing of food was a big concern as was the food that was left behind on the mouth part of the diaper itself. Because Newfs drool when they eat or chew, it is only fitting that everything else on their face will also be wet.  A dog’s mouth carries with it much bacteria so I had to ask myself would this wetness and food cause skin irritation or ulceration? I think it might. 
    If you notice in the video (below) where the father only ate the biscuits, the chunk left behind on the mouthpiece could have very well caused some minor irritation if the dog’s owner was not diligent in taking this off after the dog ate anything. If this biscuit had been something harder such as a bone fragment or piece of a Greenie teeth cleaning product and the dog rested its face on it  over time I could see a small cut or wound developing and becoming a bacterial infection.

Product Two

 Product two was too much like a regular muzzle, It was constricting over both dog’s faces even though the father has a significantly smaller face.  The collar part did not go around either dog’s neck to snap together.  

Sizing Issues:

Dogs that drool are a special breed among themselves and come in such a variety of sizes from the head, to the muzzle, to the ears that getting a proper fit did not seem to be considered here with either product one or two.
   

Concerns:

1)  This product if worn enough on a daily basis I fear could mask a health problem that Newfoundland dogs are prone to called megaesophagus. As you can see by my video after my dogs ate anything there was constant mouth movement as if something were caught in the jowls. Megaesophagus  is where there is decrease in mobility of the esophagus. These are the muscular movements or contractions of the esophagus which sends food down to the stomach. With this disease the dog has difficulty sending the food to the stomach which then results in regurgitation. If this happens and the dog is ill fitted with a slobber stopper then you have to worry that the dog will try to swallow its regurgitation or end up aspirating on some of the food that was regurgitated.
      After watching my video and the way my dog’s mouth movements were during and after eating, over time would an uneducated owner of the breed then just become used to seeing the dog’s mouth move in such a way because of the product and not notice that there might be an actual disease in the making?

This also leads me to ask what about the dog who just has an occasional stomach virus and regurgitates. Would this product prevent everything from coming out as it should? I don’t think at this point I want to find out.
  

2) I also had to wonder about dogs with white or tan fur such as Saint Bernard’s or Landseer Newfs. When a dog has  allergies it licks its paws constantly, the dog’s saliva then turns the fur a rust color. Will this then happen around the mouth area of a dog wearing this product if its saliva is in constant contact with the fur?  I have black dogs so I will never know.    

3) Neck pain from cervical disc may also be a contributing factor of pain when this product is worn because of the tightness around the back of the ears down to the jaw. A dog that suffers IVDD of the cervical area would have a hard time moving the head normally, but with either Slobber Stopper (product 1 or 2) in my opinion it could be even more painful.  Both of my dogs do have neck issues so I was very aware of that through the trial but again would a owner not knowledgeable of the breed  know this?  

There are further areas of concern that I am sure can be added by people who show dogs so feel free to leave your post below, but please keep it clean and to the point you are making (in other words minus any vulgar langue or cheap shots ) or it will not be approved by me for posting. I believe we can all make a point in a dignified manner so that others can understand.

Additionally:

 I have to be honest and tell you that it was only after I tested this product, wrote this article, and uploaded my video did I see the other 6 movies that the maker of this product put on youtube. Up until this time I had only seen one video that were all stills which you can view here. Link          

Also when I finally did view the 6 videos from the product maker I did not see any of his dog eating or drinking nor was there any playing with toys so I am not sure how a claim that a dog can do anything it normally would do if they were not wearing the Slobber Stopper can be made.   This latest acknowledgement makes the product even more disturbing as to how well it was tested.

 The product needs much work in my opinion and it is suggested that if the maker is going to continue, that he work with several Vets on the design. I would want to see Vets that deal in specific neurological conditions, as well as long time breeders, and people in a show ring setting. 
It is also suggested that even with some assistance from all of the above the product will get the same reaction as it is getting now.

In conclusion after much testing on not only myself, but on my dogs, this is not a product I would stand behind. This is not a product I would use or suggest be used for the reasons stated above.  

I consider myself a fair person when I rate dog products, I put all the uproar from others behind me and look at the product as it was made and for its intended use, but I have to give the Slobber Stopper four paws down.


After the product maker read my blog he blasted me for not showing video of the second prototype he sent me which is indeed very different than the first, possibly a worse production. This creator does not take criticism very well and will delete any post on his page he does not like.  however I was lucky enough to see on his face book page how unhappy he was because I showed the older version of his creation. To be fair I made a shorter video of his newer version which you can see at this  link   

More input and a super idea!

Input from a Newf owner on how to train your dog not to slobber. Training a dog properly with a cue is always better in my mind.  The more I read this post by Lana the more it made sense to me because when we try to teach young Special Needs children who have no control over knowing when to swallow, we teach them pretty much the way Lana taught her Newf and then give a verbal cue that they should try to swallow.   I have taught my dogs human sign language so this idea of a cue is not so far fetched, you just need patience! Thanks Lana!


By Lana Tauben from Newfs on Face book
 Carol, it's very simple & I think I've shared it before, if not here then maybe on NN. Kodi is my third Newf I've taught to stay dry & I do know the "duck cover and weave" method too, LOL. The simplest way to teach it is for you to try it on your self. Take your index finger & touch the under side of your chin. Now slide finger back to where your neck starts & push in gently. You will get the urge to swallow & that is exactly what you do with your dog. As soon as he swallows say swallow so he learns it as a command & praise highly when he swallows & treat. As he learns the verbal command add a sign such as touching under your chin each time you give the command. Again highly praise & reward each time they swallow. I do keep towels around for wiping right after a drink or the occasional slips. Kodi will be two in Feb. & he very seldom drools & then its outside playing or wrestling with my friends three Newfs. It took 3 days to teach a rescue Newf I had 30 yrs ago but he was 3 yrs old & very neglected & no training to speak of





The newer Slobber Stopper
I was never able to test this as there
was no give to the snap collar


Steeler, the son with the larger head

Steeler eating some biscuit, notice the pucker
of mouth as he tries to chew

In this pick Steeler is trying to get his biscuit
leftovers

The diaper part of  Slobber Stopper after eating biscuits

The Father with the smaller head and jowls




6 comments:

  1. Thanks, Sally for your review. While there are many other concerns that you weren't able to cover, I think you did a good job from a pet owners perspective.

    I have a few questions for you.
    Do you think the price of $70.00 is justifiable considering the design, material, quality of manufacturing and instructions given?
    Did you have the opportunity to take your dogs in public?
    Would this product be allowed for therapy work?
    Was there a reason you didn't leave it on your dogs for an extended period of time (as suggested by the product maker)?
    If I missed the answers to these questions I apologize.
    Thanks for your help. I also posted this comment on the Slobber Stopper FB page.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just received 2 of the newer model to test as did Sally. However, I have an opposite problem as the strap over the nose is too loose for my dogs and do not have any way to change the size. The collar could be made to fit, but the dogs immediately removed the "big" portion with one swipe of a paw since it is too loose.
      Looking at the material, I would put a price of maybe $5.00 and (if it fit) - could see using this as you walked through a Hyatt or Marriott at a show just to "protect" the people in the lobby. But, would never use it for "stopping any slobber".

      Delete
  2. 1) I cannot answer on the pricing, I am not in marketing and do not know the cost of labor and material, but I personally as a consumer would not buy it for $70.00. I might try it for 5 dollars then hold onto the receipt just in case. As for the instructions, there were none. No instructions on how to put it on, no instructions to train the dog how to get used to it, and no instructions or warnings what to look for for fitting.

    2) I would not leave this product on long enough to take the dogs out in public with it since the one dog was clearly uncomfortable with wearing it.

    3) No this product would not be allowed to be used for my particular therapy group as it is apparatus, much as a vest is apparatus and unless you are going in costume for Halloween, my Therapy group would not allow it. However, I cannot speak on behalf of the other national therapy groups or national assistance dog groups. To be clear, Therapy Dogs are not the same as assistance dogs.

    4) I did not leave it on the dogs for extended periods of time because as I stated it irritated one dog, I had concern about eating and drinking as well as what would happen if they were to become ill and it got soaked fairly quickly with one drink.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This was the comment to me on Face Book from the maker of the product and the reason I did a second video on the newer prototype:

    Wow Sally, you made your video on my old and discontinued version. I sent you the new prototype we designed based on all the feedback we received. and I told you the fit is important. If i don't have the fit right for your dog let me know and we will make the fit right before you do your evaluation. So your evaluation is not valid because it was about the old discontinued product. The most disturbing is you focused on the dog eating and drinking. The dog should never have his dog slobber stopper on when eating his food. There was a statement where the dog can eat and drink because comments said the dog could not eat or drink and if a person left it on all day this could hurt the dog. So you took a negative out of content and based your evaluation on this. Again, a bunch of people making untrue comments to make themselves look better. Sally you just used this moment to get your blog in front of angry dog owners to make you look better.. You are like the Petsadviser.com who said he tried to contact me for an interview which was a lie but when I contacted him he said he would not interview me. Really?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I see other potential problems, in a couple of different areas. The first is cleaning. The "Inventor" stated that he uses several a day and then has his wife "wash" them. To me "washing" infers either utilizing a washing machine or hand laundering. This means utilizing some form of detergent. Many dogs has reactions to detergent/soap. If routinely washed, there will be soap/detergent residue on these. to what efefct the residue has on the dog would be a concern. also with no cleaning instructions provided, how to I know what detergents to use or not to use??

    Other issues I see are the dogs comfort. They do not appear to be adjustable in any way. No two dogs have the same musszle, head, ear size, etc. How many different sizes is he going to make?

    As for a use in showing dogs, I see none. If I'm walking through a Hotel Lobby, I had a drool bib on my Newfs. I also carry a drool towel. I wipe my dogs prior to entering a lobby and that is all I need. Based on how the Slobber Stopper is designed most all non-dog people, and even some dog people will believe it's a "Muzzle" and most likely be afraid of my dog. To Me, that's sending a false signal to avoid me and my dog(s).

    I could probably come up with other problems as I see it. But I feel this is sufficient to determine I would not put this product on my Newfs

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you Cmdrted for your comment:) I do not show dogs so I could not make a statement on that aspect of the use.

    ReplyDelete