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How to Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

 

January is National Walk to Your Pet Month. Usually, that brings to mind images of walking your dog on a sunny day. But, what if you were walking with your cat instead? You may baulk at the suggestion, but it’s true! Cats can be trained to walk on a leash and they can also end up loving it.

First off, you’ll want to break them into the idea of a leash and harness easily. Cats are very independent by nature, so it’s best not to force them into too much too quickly. And always make sure to give them lots of praise and pets during all interactions while training. After all, we know how much cats love being praised!

leash

Equipment needed

 

  • Harness and Leash

Make sure you’re using a harness and not just a collar. If they try to run up the collar could choke them or break off. The harness will protect their neck and give you more control for their safety.

  • Treats

Get a few healthy treats (a great time for a dental chew treat) to reward them in training. After a while start to eliminate the treats as a reward, but it is a great starting incentive.

Easy Steps To Train Your Cat to Walk on Leash:

 

Step 1: Introduction

Introduce your cat to the harness and leash. Show it to them and let them sniff it. Then leave it laying around their space before you try it on them. This will help them get familiar with it before they have to put it on. Once you’re ready to try it out, put it on them while giving them praises. If they’re okay with it from the start then let them wear it around for a while. If they are not having any of it then take it off and try again tomorrow. Don’t push them. After a successful wear, give them a little treat.

Step 2: Indoor Practice

After they are used to the harness, it’s time to try the leash. Put it on and gently lead them around the house. You will know when they are fed up when they refuse to stand or move or when their tail switches or they flatten their ears. Put down treats in a line (think Hansel & Gretel) to get them to move forward. Walk around to their favorite spots for a little while so they can get acclimated to being tethered.

Step 3: Outside Adventure

Once they are used to the leash and harness indoors it is time to venture outside a little bit. Start in the quietest part of the yard and slowly let them explore the area around the door. Each time try to get them into going a little farther on each walk. Hopefully, within a few days or weeks, they’ll be loving their leash and the great outdoors.

 

Tips to Keep in Mind

 

  • Always consider your cat’s temperament. Some cats may take to walking much faster than others. Some can be comfortable within a week or two, some can take close to a month.
  • Expect a few setbacks. It’s possible that your cat will love a walk one day and the next something is different or scares them and they may freak out.
  • Never leave them alone or tethered on the leash.
  • Don’t let them climb trees while walking.

 

It may seem like an impossible task, but it isn’t! Your cat gets all the same benefits of walking as do dogs and ourselves. It’s a great way for them to be stimulated, get exercise and enjoy the sunshine.

Do you ever walk with your cat? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below!

 

Clicker Training Tips

 

There are many different positive reinforcement training methods available to both cat and dog owners. One of my favorite methods is clicker training, it is a good way to quickly train your pet with less treats than traditional training.

Clicker training is used by thousands of animal trainers to teach all types of animals. It can be used to teach dogs obedience, leash manners, agility and many other things. It can also be used to teach tricks and other positive behaviors to cats.

What is clicker training?

Clicker training is using a sound (generally a clicker) to positively reinforce your pet for a behavior he or she is doing. In clicker training, a click is used every time a good behavior happens and treats are given later (which means fewer treats).

 

Why should I clicker train my pet? 

Clicker training has a couple of cool benefits. Clicker training allows you to reward positive behavior more quickly than giving your pet a treat. Depending on your reaction time, you could be clicking 10-15 seconds after your pet does the positive behavior. Giving a treat to your pet generally takes a longer time, which may cause your pet to forget the positive behavior he or she did. This helps your pet learn what the behavior you want to see, and learn it more quickly.

Because you click for each behavior rather than give your pet a treat, you feed less treats per training session. This is really helpful if you are working with an overweight pet or do not want your pet to gain weight.

 

How do I get started clicker training? 

Clicker training is all about associating a sound with a reward, so start by picking a sound. Pick a sound that is easy to make and distinct (will not be heard outside of training). For example, it is not recommended you use a clap because your pet will hear clapping outside of the training session and may get confused. This is the reason many people use the clicker. It is a very distinct sound, and it may be quicker to make than any sound you can make on your own. Clickers are easy to find at pet stores and generally cost around $2.

 

Next get started with your first sessions of training. These sessions will be very treat heavy, so pick a treat that your dog likes. Because clicker training is all about associating a sound with a reward (like a treat) you will be clicking and giving your dog a treat per click. Start by getting your dog’s attention, and simply clicking the clicker. After each click, quickly give your dog a treat. Do this for a few 5-10 minute sessions. After a few sessions, start mixing in simple behaviors with clicking. For example, have your dog sit, then click and treat. Do this for a few sessions and slowly wean down to only treating for every 10 clicks. Be sure to give your pet some treats after each session to tell him that he did a good job.

Next move on to the first behavior you want to teach, do so slowly. Because your dog is new to training, still give treats pretty frequently during the sessions. If you are teaching a complicated behavior, like how to walk nicely on a leash, use multiple steps to teach this. For simple behaviors you can use one step. An example I am going to use is teaching a pet how to come. Have someone hold your pet at the other end of the room and use your come signal. Only when your pet comes to you, give a click and give a treat. Repeat this behavior, give a click and treat the second and third times. The next time your pet comes, give only a click. Repeat this for the remainder of your session, mixing in a few treats with clicks. At the end of the session give your pet treats to tell him he did a good job. At each training session, reduce the amount of treats given during the session to only treating at the end. Do this until your pet masters the behavior.

 

Clicker training is a great way to teach pets positive behaviors. Be sure to use treats your pet likes and keep training sessions short for success!