How To Teach Your Pet New Tricks

How to teach your pet new tricks without employing a trainer

When we consider training, we usually think of dogs. But our precious cats can pull off some really great tricks too. While our kids get ready to head back to school, do you wonder if it’s time to teach your pet a few new tricks? Try teaching them to ring the bell when they want to step out, or giving you a high-five when you raise both your hands. You can give the trainer a miss and give these a shot yourself.

Here are some tips that can come really handy:

  1. Keep the commands short and uncomplicated.

  2. Always use the same word for the same action.

  3. Everytime you give a reward, pair it with verbal praise like “yes!” or “Good dog!” “Good kitty!”

  4. Reward your pet immediately so they associate the command word with the proper action.

  5. Don’t say the command word more than once. They will learn the sooner they obey, the sooner they’ll get the treat.

  6. Only offer rewards for behaviours you want to encourage. Don’t give the same treat to cheer them up when you have scolded them for doing something wrong.

  7. Don’t punish bad behaviour – ignore, or redirect into an alternate good behaviour that you reward.

  8. Ignored behaviour will eventually go extinct. Some pets may increase an unwanted behaviour before it goes extinct, but don’t give up!

  9. Food treats should be very small – pea-size or smaller – so long training sessions don’t interrupt their regular feeding routine.

  10. Keep a variety of treats on hand so your pet won’t get bored and is always excited.

  11. If your dog isn’t motivated by treats, keep a favourite toy on hand for brief playtime rewards.

  12. Always keep a “jackpot” treat for the ultra-good behaviour.

  13. When you are teaching a behaviour, use continuous reinforcement by giving your pet a treat every time they exhibit the behaviour.

  14. Use a variable schedule so they don’t learn a pattern.

  15. Slowly phase out food treats and use lots of real-life rewards like petting and play.

  16. Keep training sessions short. 3-5 minutes a few times a day is good.

  17. Focus on a single behaviour in each training session.

  18. Always train when you and your pet are in a good mood.

  19. At each training session, give your pet a chewy treat  and rub their paws. This builds comfort and confidence between you.

  20. Training should be fun, don’t make it a dreadful time for your pet.

With these simple tips, you can start teaching your pet some easy tricks and then go on to bigger ones. We’d love to watch your fur buddies learn and make adorable mistakes on the way. Keep us posted.