Teaching Cat Agility, Part 1

When working with felines, there are some similarities in training techniques…and then there are some differences. Felines have a much more independent nature and you just simply CANNOT “make” a cat do anything they don’t want to do. You can see in this video that Simba, the cat in training, does not want to go BACK over the dog walk…so Julie simply says “uh-uh” and doesn’t pay…but then moves on to an easier behavior (going through the tunnel) so that she can help Simba be successful again. Then, she lets him offer some other behaviors (sit, prairie dog, reach/tag, which is the beginning for high-five) for easy treats, thus ending on a good note and keeping him engaged. This was his first training session in over 4 years (for those who know the story, Simba just recently returned home after 4 years away, through the power of his microchip and a Good Samaritan – ask Julie the story sometime!), and so keeping it fun and rewarding was necessary! Working with multiple species forces good trainers to think outside the box and focus more on what we call operant and classical conditioning…true science-based training techniques. If we can help cats learn using fun methods…why can’t we teach our dogs (who are usually MUCH more willing to please) using the same ones? Simple: We can. So, find a trainer who thinks OUTSIDE the box and doesn’t use force or coercion. Keep things fun and the rewards will be Lifelong. Happy Training!

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