Think your cat can't be trained? Think again! Here are three tricks to get you started
Take your cat to school from the comfort of your living room (because he/she wouldn’t have it any other way)
People are always saying to me that cats can't be trained. They're too independent, they have too much attitude, or they just plain don't give a crap. Enter Toronto trainer Julie Posluns (M. Sc. Animal Behaviour), and her Cat School. Using online tutorials and self-led classes, this dog-trainer-turned-cat-trainer takes people through tricks designed for cats. Julie has a knack for teaching new tricks quickly, but without rushing the process, and so we turned to her for three great strategies to start training any cat with. All you need are cat treats (think tiny bits of salmon), perhaps a fanny pack to hold them in, and a clicker.
Lie down on a mat
The cue "Go to your mat" can be taught in a million different ways, but with the felines, it needs to be slightly more subtle and, dare I say it, even a little more sophisticated. The use of a clicker really takes it up a notch in this video, and don't worry, it's nowhere near as complicated to use as you might think. In just a few sessions, your cat can be sitting or lying down patiently on its favourite bed, or mat, while you sashay around the house feeling like you've climbed the cat version of Mount Everest.
Jump through your arms
We all know cats can jump. How else do they end up crammed into the tiniest little nooks at the top of our dressers, or hanging from the curtain rod? In this tutorial, you'll learn how to put all that jumping to good use and impress your friends by teaching your cat to jump through your arms on cue. The key is to start simple. First, you'll teach your cat to simply jump over one arm. Then from there, gradually increase the difficulty, following each step, until you've made it to the finish line. Take your time, take lots of breaks, and whatever you do, don't give up!
Yes, fist bump. Julie gets into some fancy stuff with this tutorial. She uses a training term called "targeting" to teach a kitty to touch a container with its paw. From there, she slowly transitions the target from the container to her fist. You'll also need your clicker for this one, and a little bit of good timing. This type of trick relies on nailing each phase of training before moving onto the next, so be sure to really take your time at each step.
If you like what you see here and are interested in learning more you can find a whole bunch of fun tutorials and lessons at catschool.co. Instagram is also chock-full of cat-obsessed trick trainers hashtagging their most impressive videos and pics. Who knew that not only can cats learn as well as dogs, but they do it with more panache than a Labrador could ever dream of?
Danielle Hodges is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and a Licensed Family Paws Parent Educator for Dog, baby, and toddler safety. She is co-owner of Follow the Leader Inc Dog Training School with locations in Toronto and Hamilton.