Contrary to popular belief – puppies are not the only pet you can train. While cats may seem unresponsive to training at first, they will be more receptive to training if administered as a kitten.
With proper techniques, you can train your kitten to sit, remain calm while inside a crate, stay off the furniture, and even perform a few tricks. However, because cats can be independent, it is likely that kittens may lose interest in training fairly quickly. For this reason, you must keep your lessons short and sweet, and offer your kitten plenty of rewards for good behavior.
If you train your kitten correctly, you can avoid some of the common cat behavioral problems, such as:
- Furniture scratching
- Stress, fear or anxiety
- Spraying or urinating outside the litter box
- Aggression towards people or other animals
- Excessive licking or biting
- Refusing body handling (brushing teeth, clipping nails, grooming)
There are steps you can take to make training enjoyable for your kitten, and therefore more likely to yield quicker results.
- Start Small
Set realistic goals for your training lessons. For example, younger kittens will struggle to learn how to interact with other cats, but will be quick to learn how to use the litter box. Start off with the simplest of lessons, and gradually move towards more complex learning as your kitten ages.
- Keep It Short and Simple
Cats have relatively short attention spans, so lesson duration may be dictated by their interest rather than your training goals. Kittens will respond quickly to specific lessons such as litter training fairly quickly, but may require assistance in navigating your home later on to find the litter box. In terms of training your kitten to use toys, however, lessons may take more time. Allow your kitten space to explore the toys before participating, but continue to offer positive reinforcement throughout.
- Use Treats
Like dogs, cats also respond well to rewards, which can be in the form of treats, positive affirmations, verbal praise, or even toys. Offer your kitten prompts and reinforce good behavior using any of the aforementioned rewards.
- Introductions Matter
In order to learn how to interact with humans, your kitten needs to be subjected to individuals other than yourself. Let your kitten socialize with friends and family in short spurts, allowing the cat to explore at a comfortable pace. Follow the same process when introducing your kitten to other cats, in order to encourage socialization and discourage territorial behavior.
- No Punishment
Addressing bad behavior in your kitten is just as important as teaching good manners. Cats do not understand punishment, and will have no idea why they’re in trouble. In fact, a kitten who’s been punished will feel threatened by you, and in turn will be reluctant to learn anything. Correct bad behavior using the same described techniques: lots of treats and positive reinforcement, along with repetition when needed.
If you are struggling with training your kitten, don’t stress! At the end of the day, like babies, kittens need lots of patience and positivity to learn correct behavior. Eventually, with proper techniques and consistency, your kitten’s training will pay off.
Four to Six Months
At this age, your puppy should be fully house-broken with few to no accidents indoors. They should also know polite leash manners and be able to socialize with humans and other dogs. Nonetheless, you should continue offering them positive reinforcement through alternate rewards such as playing or toys.
If you are struggling with puppy training, you can always sign up for a basic puppy training class or hire a professional trainer for best results. This is also recommended in case you wish to teach your older dog a more specialized skill, such as protection or service training.