Even though most people think that only dogs can do tricks, cats can also learn to perform various tricks. Cats have a unique temperament that must be considered during training. Cats respond better generally to reward and positive feedback. They are not as motivated by simple praise from the owner as dogs are. In order to win your cat’s obedience in training him to perform tricks, you must use specific training techniques for cats.
Treating your cat like a dog and expecting him to respond to training in the same way will not work. Cats require special treatment during training according to their unique personalities. The more you learn about your cat’s temperament, the easier it will be to teach your cat a variety of tricks. You can use whatever positive reinforcement motivates your cat as a training tool. With this mindset, you can easily teach your cat to perform tricks.
The most essential part of teaching your cat tricks is remembering to use positive reinforcement. Cats do not respond well to negative reinforcement or to punishment. These methods should only be used when preventing bad behavior, and then only as a last resort. Even then, negative feedback should be used in moderation. For teaching tricks, which are a positive type of training, only rewards should be used to motivate your cat. Punishing your cat for not performing a trick as instructed will confuse and annoy your cat. This can ruin the training experience for both you and the cat. Punishment can also cause stress in cats, which can lead to behavioral issues like compulsive grooming. Maintaining a positive attitude during training can allow you to build better interactions with your cat. Always use reward as your chief training tool.
Types of positive reinforcement that can be used to teach your cat tricks include treats, petting, catnip, toys, or games. Anything that your cat considers a “reward” can be used to show positive feedback for good behavior. If your cat responds well to a training command, reward him immediately. Some cats will favor one type of reward over the others. Make sure that you get to know your cat well enough to use their favorite reward. Your cat might like a game of chasing a string much better than a treat. If your cat does a trick for you upon command, reward your cat with whatever he likes best. This will help you build your cat’s trust and willingness to cooperate in training.
If you use food treats often, try to choose a low-calorie, healthy treat. Using an unhealthy treat as a reward too often can make your cat gain excess weight. Obesity in cats can cause a variety of other health issues. Make sure to choose a healthy treat for training your cat to do tricks. In addition, try to incorporate a clicker into your training methods. Each time you give your cat a treat as a reward, click for a few seconds using the clicker. This will help your cat come to associate the sound of the clicker with food and positive reinforcement. Eventually, you may be able to wean off the treats, and transition to using only the clicker. Food treats can then be used only for special instances, once in a while.
Teaching your cats specific tricks can be done with a bit of creativity and lots of positivity. To teach your cat to sit on command, try holding a treat over his head and slowly moving it backwards towards his tail until he sits naturally. Say the command “sit” as you do this. As soon as your cat sits, immediately give him the treat and praise him verbally. A similar technique can be used to teach your cat to stand up. You can hold the treat over his head, just out of reach. Say the command “beg” or “stand up”. As soon as your cat stands on its hind legs to reach for the treat, give him the treat and praise him enthusiastically.
You can teach your cat to lie down by moving your hand with the treat between his front paws, then sliding it forward until he assumes the right position. Say the command “down” as you guide the cat into the correct position. As soon as he listens, give him the treat as a reward. Sometimes it can take several tries before your cat learns to follow your hand movements properly. Remember, the goal is to get your cat to associate the verbal command with the action, without needing to use hand cues.
Try to make your command words very short and clear. One-word commands are best, since this minimizes the chances of your cat becoming confused by the instruction. Keep a positive attitude throughout the training session. Do not become discouraged if your cat does not respond as you expected right away. Cats are less motivated by pleasing the owner than dogs are. In order to cultivate receptiveness in your cat to being trained, keep using positive reinforcement and patience throughout the process.
Make sure to practice often with your cat. A few times a day, for 10-15 minutes at a stretch, will be helpful in training your cat to do tricks. Do not practice too much, though. If you overdo the training, your cat can come to resent the training time and will be unwilling to learn new tricks. Therefore, keep the practices short and frequent. Make sure to reward your cat often, so that he associated the training times with positive feedback. Follow up each training time with a friendly game or snuggling session. This can help reinforce the bond you are building with your cat through training. Training your cat to perform tricks can be a very rewarding experience for both you and your cat. Training provides an additional activity, besides for playing, in which you and your cat can interact together. By keeping an open mind and positive outlook, you can be successful in training your cat to perform tricks.