My Story

Who we are

My name is Jordan Horak, and I am the owner of Cato Outdoors and the designer of the Cato Board and Cato Plank.

Cato Outdoors is family owned and operated, and all of our products are made in the USA. My wife, Jenn, and my three children are involved with Cato Outdoors as well as with the kennel - they all pull more than their share (we also added a baby in 2020, but we haven't him to work yet!) Dogs have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From household pets when I was a young child, to my first true canine companion "Cato" when I was about 11 years old. In spit of his lack of training due to my shortcomings, Cato gave me a love for dogs that has stayed with me ever since, and he is PART of the reason for the name behind my company.

Why Cato Outdoors

The goal of Cato Outdoors is two-fold. First, I wanted to make sure that everyone had access to a placeboard that I was comfortable recommending, and that I knew would work well for all dogs. Along with that placeboard, I wanted to make available to others the other training tools that I use (more products will continue to be added to this website). Second, I wanted to help people have a better experience with their dog – whether it be as a pet, obedience, agility, upland hunting, waterfowl hunting, or any other activity you participate in with your dog. Please check back regularly as I will be continuing to add videos to this website to give you ideas on drills and techniques that you can use with your dog.

My Journey

How did I go from a poorly trained dog as a child to running a company that specializes in dog training tools and processes? Since that original Cato, I've had many dogs that have not only brought joy to my life from their presence, but also that I have had the pleasure of competing with in Field Trials. When I was introduced to Field Trials, I quickly learned of my inadequacies as a trainer. The trials called for a level of control and teamwork that I had never seen before, and I was immediately drawn to them. I became a student of dog training – working with multiple dogs that I owned, but also reading books, watching training videos, and rubbing shoulders with dog people. In spite of all this effort, I still struggled instilling some of the basic skills in my dogs.

In 2013 I was introduced to the concept of placeboards for dog training. The concept didn't make a lot of sense to me (after all, many of the skills I was trying to teach involved movement – not sitting motionless in one spot!), but I gave them a try anyway. I was immediately struck with how quickly my dogs gravitated to placeboards, in spite of not being introduced to them at a young age. It was as if they'd been trained on placeboards their entire lives. I quickly began adapting the placeboard training to accomplish my objectives, and developed a number of drills that the dogs not only enjoyed, but that also gave me a rapport and control with the dogs that I'd never experienced before.

While dogs have long been my passion, I've had to juggle the dogs with life. This included a demanding job with travel and three children. When you pair that up with upwards of eight dogs, it becomes imperative to have a concise training program! My methods are very simple by nature – anyone with a backyard and five extra minutes a day can do the vast majority of the drills that I've developed. However, I've also found them to be extremely effective.

In 2018 I was able to accomplish a long-term goal of winning the AKC sanctioned Cocker Spaniel Field Trial Nationals with one of my dogs. My dog “Breeze” won the Amateur Nationals in the Spring of 2018, and then in the Fall my second “Cato” won the Open Nationals (the second PART of the reason for Cato Outdoors). This completely validated my placeboard training, and helped me realize that I needed to make my methods available to more people. I also realized that there needed to be a better, commercially produced, placeboard available to the public. The idea of putting a product on the market was a bit overwhelming, but I took the plunge. After much time, energy, and consultation with notable dog trainers, I am excited to now offer the Cato Board! I'm very excited that I found a very reputable manufacturer here in the U.S. that was excited to make the Cato Board for me.

Please take a few minutes to look around our website – hopefully the videos will excite you to spend more time with your dog! I also hope that you will give the Cato Board a try. It's a life-long tool that I truly believe will increase your enjoyment with your dog!

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