Recently we have add a cat, named Chet, to our training family. I say family because he is not my cat. He belongs to Marie one of trainers at my facility ROOT Dog Training. Chet comes to work with Marie and spends a fair bit of time at the facility.
We (Marie and I) have been spending a fair bit of free time training Chet between classes. It constantly amazes me how people believe that cats are not trainable! Of course they are, you just need to find what motivates them.
Chet started hanging out at our facility when he was 8 weeks old. When he started he was startled and ran from anyone new who came into the shop. He also was some what fearful of the dogs – understandably. The first week we worked on making friends with him. Then we started working on how to not use his teeth when taking treats. Thankfully, I only ended up with one tooth puncture! Man, do kitten teeth mistakes hurt way more then puppy teeth.
Quickly we progressed to a hand target as his first skill. As with dogs, it has been a very useful skill. The first use for the hand target was for him to go up to new people and earn rewards. Success, in no time he no longer runs away when new people come in, he goes up to them. The second skill we started training with a hand target was to go up on his station. A station is a set place for him to stay while training. Right now we are using a small round end table that works perfectly. Now we have progressed to using the hand target to teach a spin. Then we added a lured sit-up (sit pretty) behavior.
We put together a quick video of some of his behaviors. In the video I am adding an auditory cue to his stationing behavior (two taps on the station). Also I am starting to add a hand signal to the sit-up behavior. Then we are also working on generalizing the spin behavior to new surfaces & heights.
As you can see Chet loves to train. He is starting to demand meow for training when he hears my voice. We hope you look forward to more Chet training videos! We’re looking forward to learning more about training cats.