“Cats are wonderfully intelligent animals and can be easily trained in a similar way to a dog,” says Tina. “Cats love learning new tricks such as sit, shake paws and more. There are many benefits to training your cat, such as providing them with positive mental stimulation, improving your relationship with them, encouraging positive behaviours (such as coming to you when you call them!) and discouraging negative behaviours.”
1. Don’t punish cats for bad behavior
“Focus instead on positive reinforcement by using a treat that they love,” says Tina. Who goes on to explain that you need to differentiate the treat from a meal.
“This is where a clicker, small bell or marker word such as ‘YES’ can come in handy. A click, bell ring or word before the treat will help them understand that they are being rewarded for a specific behaviour and are more likely to repeat it”
Tip: “Just remember to go easy on the rewards, otherwise they might start to put on weight,” says Tina.
2. Keep training sessions short and train often
“I recommend 2-5 minutes, 2 to 4 times a day. Train only one trick at a time, starting with the simplest command, such as ‘sit’. Have the treat ready, give a clear command to ‘sit’ and hold the treat above their head so that they lift their head and sit, then use the marker and reward them.”
Tip: “Be patient and gentle as they may not get it the first couple of times.
Keep training sessions positive and relaxed. If it’s not fun your cat won’t want to participate,” says Tina. “Let your cat run off if they lose interest and come back to the training at a later date.”
3. Train your kitten or cat to walk on a harness
“Treat your cat while they are wearing the harness to create a positive experience. Attach the lead and allow your cat to walk you around the house, then follow with a treat. Repeat in short sessions and before long your cat will enjoy walking and exploring with you.”
Tip: “Playing with your cat promotes bonding and helps to reduce excess energy. Replace hands with interactive toys on a string or ball to interact and play with your cat as this is just as enjoyable,” says Tina.
4. Train your cat to play with toys, not your hands
“Cats - especially kittens - love to play. However, more often it can turn into rough play, and when a cat owner roughhouses their cat or kitten it learns that it is acceptable to play with teeth and claws on the owner’s skin,” says Tina.
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