It's a new year, meaning many of us are making changes to our lifestyles and looking to improve ourselves. But what about our pets? Well, we say you can teach an old dog new tricks - and a cat too! Here are some fun, simple tricks to teach your pet...
Tricks for Cats
Cat training is a great way to connect with your cat and teach them the meaning of a few key words. The best way to successfully train your cat is to choose behaviours that already come naturally to them before setting out to teach them commands. Always give your cat plenty of time to learn, and if they want to stop, stop.
Sit - Whenever your cat sits naturally, use a clicker and give them a reward. Soon you’ll notice your cat sitting to cue you when they see the treats! Add the word “sit” once you can predict their behaviour. Eventually you can try luring your cat into position by pulling your hand upwards. Always be sure to click and reward this behaviour. Gradually you can phase off rewarding every correct response, using the clicker and treats occasionally.
"In the Box" - Most cats will happily jump in a box but having a direction for this behaviour is useful when the time comes to put you cat into a cat carrier. Get out your cat carrier or box and place treats inside it. Let your cat enter at free will. Then, stop placing treats inside the box and instead use a clicker and treats to reward your cat for entering the box. You can also add the verbal cue "in the box" here. You can gradually start carrying your cat around in the box or carrier for a short period and rewarding them afterwards too.
Tricks for Dogs
Dog tricks are a great way to offer your dog some mental stimulation, and many of them build from the basic commands your dog probably already knows.
"Back Up" - Start off by getting your dog to "stay." Take a few steps away from your dog and face them. Begin moving towards your dog. Some dogs will take a few steps back straight away, but if your dog doesn't start stepping back as you move toward them, keep going forward until they do. As soon as your dog takes a few steps back, praise them and give them a treat. Once your dog understands the action you can start adding the command to "back up."
Wave - Once your dog has learned "paw" or "shake" you can teach them to wave! Get your dog to give you their paw and raise your hand higher than usual. When your dog raises their paw higher, reward them with a treat. Repeat this action a few times, gradually getting higher until your dog is raising their paw above their head. Once they have got the hang of the action you can start adding the command "wave", "say hello" or "say bye."