Smart Pets Deserve Smart Training


Training Your Furry Friend: The Do’s and Don’ts

Put the good in your smart pet

Training is a great way to build a connection with your pet. Not only does it teach both of you how to understand and communicate with each other, it also gives your pet the stimulation they need to keep them happy, healthy and safe.

Cats will be cats…

It’s important to note that although your pawsome pal can be trained, they often lack the desire and you’ll have to work hard and smart to get your kitty to learn new habits. The below training tips can be used for both cats and dogs, but cats have shorter attention spans, so your training sessions shouldn’t last longer than five minutes.

Smart training techniques:

There are different types of training but the most common and popular are reward-based training and clicker training. 

Reward-based training involves positive reinforcement by rewarding your pet (usually with a treat) when they respond correctly to a command. This type of training can also use positive verbal praise instead of food rewards, although it’s easier to start with treats followed by verbal praise. Reward-based training also involves ignoring ‘bad’ behaviours. If you don’t reward your pet for a certain behaviour, they tend to stop doing it. 

Clicker training also uses treats but is more hands off and the advantage of using a clicker is that it’s a crisp, clear, unique sound that can’t be mistaken for anything else. This method allows your pet to figure out on their own what they can do to earn a reward without any gesturing or prompting. Every time your pet does a smart behaviour, like sitting or waiting, you will just click and give a treat. Your pet will learn to associate the clicking sound with an expected behaviour.

While both methods have proven to be generally successful, one method might work better for you and your pet than another method.

Smart training do’s:

  • Start slowly and reward often – pets learn better if they are successful and receive a reward, we don’t want your fur baby to feel confused and anxious but rather proud and eager. When teaching a new behaviour, reward your pet with each step of their progression until they get a behaviour correct and then reward and praise highly for being the smartest pet ever.
  • Be consistent with your cues, whether verbal or gestured, make sure you are using exactly the same cue every time you ask your pet for a particular behaviour, as smart pets have great recall to different words, sounds, and gestures. This is why clicker training is often a better solution to avoid confusion with words that sound really similar.
  • Be positive and reward generously throughout the training. We can’t expect our pets to learn if they are anxious or frightened, or if there is no reward. Just like us, pets – especially doggos – crave positive attention and affection, so we need to create a “safe” learning space for them to feel secure, focused and smart.
  • Keep training sessions short; dogs seem to learn best with training sessions no longer than 10 – 20 minutes and for cats, keeping to only 5 minutes is best. Just like humans, pets – especially cats – will get bored, tired, or frustrated if training is too lengthy.

Smart training don’ts:

  • Don’t start training your pet in places with a lot of distractions, such as parks or areas with lots of other animals and stimulus. Once your pet is well acquainted with smart commands, you can start practicing in busier environments, but again, reward often for best results.
  • Don’t shout, punish, or use force when training. As mentioned above, we don’t want to intimidate or frighten our floofies into submission. Not only are these methods not as effective as rewards and praise, but some pets will also become anxious or aggressive in response and this could ruin a good bond between you and your four-legged family member.
  • Don’t create negative associations with training and training tools. If you hit your dog with their leash or smack them with your hand, they will fear the leash (which they should love) and will be nervous to take a treat from your hand in future. Cat’s can become very withdrawn and even run away when punished too harshly, so be gentle.
  • Stay chilled! There is a difference between being stern with your pet and being harsh, not only when it comes to training, but in your everyday interactions. Even for smart pets, it takes time for them to learn new things, they don’t know what you are thinking or expecting of them. As with humans, a positive attitude and positive reinforcement works much better than fear and punishment. 

Training is not something you can do once-off, you need to constantly keep up the good habits and the more you stick to your commands and rewards, the easier it will be for your four-legged friend to follow and memorise them.

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