When it comes to obedience training, we often associate this activity exclusively with dogs. But cats can be trained just as easily as dogs given the right incentive and training techniques.
While cat behavior seems totally different than that of dogs, we can use similar techniques to stop destructive behavior or train them to do things like walk on a leash. With these 10 tips, you'll see that you can teach an old cat new tricks.
#1 - USE A HARNESS
Most cats will react more favorable on a leash when wearing a harness rather than a collar. It’s much less restrictive and doesn’t feel like they’re being yanked around by their neck.
#2 - BABY STEPS
Get them accustomed to simply wearing the harness before attempting to walk them on a leash. Getting them used to being in a harness will also come in handy when it comes time to take them to the veterinarian.
#3 - LET THEM TAKE THE LEAD
Attach the leash and allow them to roam around indoors a little before you actually take them outside. Slowly begin to hold the other end before taking them outdoors. Allow them to wander where they wish while you are gently holding onto the handle.
#4 - EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Some cats will take to this experience like a fish to water and others might not. If your cat is struggling with this concept, be persistent but not demanding. Start out with smaller excursions, keep the walking times short and build up to longer outings.
#5 - DON’T FORGET THE TREATS
Not only will this be a distraction from this new endeavor, it will also associate a positive type of reinforcement with this experience. You’ll likely be able to trim the treats and get rid of them altogether as your cat gets more comfortable.
#6 - IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
If you live in a neighborhood where there is a lot of traffic, noise and other animals, this can be very distracting and alienate your cat further to accepting this experience. Try them out in a quieter environment like a backyard or empty field.
#7 - KEEP AN EYE ON THEM
Part of training them to be on a leash is making sure they’re not either licking in puddles, putting strange things into their mouth or eating something they shouldn’t. They could come across something that could be potentially poisonous or harm them in some way.
#8 - TREES AND TERRAIN
Climbing a tree is not a good idea when tethered to a leash so you should not allow your cat to attempt this behavior. Similar to our previous tip, keep an eye on where they’re going and avoid areas where they could become potentially injured or entangled.
#9 - TIED AND TRUE
Don’t tie them up to something like a post or other object, not even for a minute. They could become spooked by something or if you leave them alone, a “cat burglar” could nab them.
#10 - BE PATIENT
As mentioned previously, you might experience some setbacks. For example, one day your cat could be having the time of their lives and the next day they could be hesitant to take a stroll. Be patient and consistent, but not forceful or overly insistent.
As always, check with your veterinarian before introducing your animal with any kind of new exercise regime or activity. They’ll likely agree this is an excellent way for you and your cat to interact and enjoy some outdoor time together.
Article contributed by Emily Ridgewell