Almost all dog owners have already tried to teach a few tricks to their pet. It is a completely different story for cat owners, to whom this idea usually just does not come to mind. Pretty normal given that cats have a reputation for being proud and independent animals, and moreover not very receptive to the orders that one could give them. And yet, it is quite possible (and even rather easy) to train a cat. We explain how.
Even if trained, cats are not able to perform the same tricks as dogs (forget the idea of playing Frisbee with kitty !). They can nevertheless learn simple tricks, such as rolling on themselves, giving the paw, jumping in a hoop or standing on their hind legs. But the interest of training your cat should not be to turn him into a circus puppet.
Training is especially useful for a more harmonious relationship between you and your pet. It will improve the behaviour of your cat (if he is very shy or anxious for example) or permit him to better tolerate situations that are sometimes painful (to enter his basket to go to the veterinarian, to be examined or to get cleaned, take a medicine ...). The icing on the cake: these exercises carried out in together are also a very good way to strengthen the relationship between yourself and your cat!
Which methods should you use ?
The training of cats is a little more difficult than training a dog as they obeys in different manners. This is especially the case for learning motivation: where a dog will accept the orders of his master just to please him, a cat will need a more substantial reward. So, if kitty agrees to play the game, this will be mainly in exchange for food !
The methods to use are, however, identical. Positive reinforcement will be used in particular. Because with cats even more than with dogs, using punishment is particularly counterproductive. Clicker training has also proven itself effective with cats. It is a matter of clearly showing the animal which behaviour deserves a reward by a distinctive sound (which can be a "click", but also the tinkling of a bell, a noise of mouth …).
Training : patience is key
Are you ready to start training your cat? Start with the absolute weapon: the super reward! It will be a treat that your cat loves and that you will need to keep solely for the training sessions. Although this super treat will be determined with your cat’s taste, we still advise the 100% protein treats (dried meat, chicken pieces, tuna crumbs, etc.).
In order to train properly, you will need patience, because for best results you should not exceed one session a day with a duration of 5 to 10 minutes. When you feel your cat is in a cooperative mood and slightly hungry, you can start training. Start by drawing his attention, then give him a simple order (sit for example, placing your hand over his head). Reward him with a treat when he succeeds, then gradually complicate the exercise. If everything goes well, you should succeed in getting results within a few days !
Finally, you can see in this video the results obtained by Dr. Franck of the NGO "Best Friends" thanks to the clicker training method. This one explains that these exercises are particularly useful for improving the behaviour of cats that are too shy or too restless so that they can be more easily adopted.