Teaching a cat to sit or give a paw is simply expanding their natural abilities, and most cats will be happy to do this with the right motivation. However, the key is to approach training sessions in the right way. Never punish your cat for getting something wrong, or force them to do something while training. Keep your sessions short: no longer than five minutes, and always finish on a positive note by making sure your cat is still enjoying the activity and hasn’t lost interest or become irritated, before you end it. Another good tip is to choose times for training when your cat isn’t tired or distracted, but is a little hungry. That way, treats will seem all the more appealing. The 3 tricks to teach your cat are:
Trick 1: Fetch.
- To teach your cat to fetch, rub some of the water from a can of tuna on her favourite toy and throw it just out of reach. This will enchase its natural hunting skills.
- If your cat walks to the toy or picks it up, ‘click’ and give a treat. Be patient – it may take a few sessions for your cat to get the idea.
- If your cat brings the toy towards you, click and treat. Your cat will then release the toy to eat the treat. Once he or she is reliably retrieving the toy, you can add the cue word ‘fetch’ each time you throw it.
Trick 2: Sit.
- Sit on the floor with a clicker in one hand (out of your cat’s sight) and a treat in the other. Then call your cat to you.
- Hold the treat slightly above your cat’s head. As a cat’s eyes follow the treat, they’ll automatically take a sitting position. Then ‘click’ and reward.
- As your cat becomes more proficient, reward him or her only for a very good sitting position. When your pet is reliably sitting nine times out of 10, start adding the cue word ‘sit’.
Trick 3: High-Five.
- Call your cat to you, encouraging recall by using a high-value reward such as a piece of chicken.
- You can then start to engage your cat’s natural ‘paw’ action by getting him or her to reach up for the treat. Hold the piece of chicken above your cat’s nose, and wait for them to reach up with a paw. When they do so, add a command word like ‘tap’, then praise and reward.
- Practise this daily, as a fun game with your cat, and you’ll soon be receiving high-fives on command.
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