Treats, tricks TRAIN­ING

Train­ing your pet pro­vides en­joy­ment and stim­u­la­tion for ev­ery­one in­volved, and strength­ens your bond, says DR PETER KIRK­PATRICK

Gardening Australia - - FEATHERS & FUR -

Teach­ing pets new tricks and train­ing them in obe­di­ence is fun, in­ter­ac­tive and one of the best brain stim­u­la­tions you can give them. (The old say­ing ‘You can’t teach a dog new tricks’ is not true!) And we’re not just talk­ing about dogs. Our story about Marsh­mal­low the dog-cat (see box) shows how cats can also learn some tricks. Con­sis­tent, reg­u­lar train­ing is one of the best pas­times you can have with your pets, so re­mem­ber to en­joy their learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Here are the ba­sics.

how long?

Con­sis­tent train­ing is im­por­tant at any age, but you need to make sure that you’re not un­do­ing all your good work by con­tin­u­ing to train when your pet’s at­ten­tion has wan­dered, or when she’s too tired.

Young an­i­mals lose in­ter­est quickly, just like chil­dren do, so keep your train­ing short and pos­i­tive. Once her at­ten­tion has wan­dered, take a break and try again later. Five-minute ses­sions are a great achieve­ment. Older an­i­mals may get tired quickly, but gen­er­ally 15–20 min­utes or longer of solid train­ing is achiev­able.

who can do it?

The more peo­ple in your house­hold who par­tic­i­pate in train­ing, the quicker you’ll see pos­i­tive re­sults and have a pet who lis­tens to more than one per­son. Com­mands, cues and re­wards need to be con­sis­tent from ev­ery­one. Pets eas­ily be­come con­fused if dif­fer­ent words, hand ges­tures or tones are used, so it’s a good idea to first de­cide on meth­ods as a house­hold, then prac­tise to­gether un­til ev­ery­one is train­ing in the same way.

how does it work?

There are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent train­ing meth­ods out there, but the method that re­li­ably pro­vides fun and quick re­sults is us­ing treats and voice af­fir­ma­tions as pos­i­tive re­ward-based train­ing. Once your pet has mas­tered her skills, you can slowly stop us­ing treats and sim­ply stick with pos­i­tive praise.

which treats?

For ef­fec­tive train­ing, use small but high-value treats that are not part of meals or other ev­ery­day feed­ing. It’s best to limit th­ese treats to train­ing time, so your pet looks for­ward to this time with you. A cooked chook, liver treats and other smelly or tasty foods that can eas­ily be bro­ken up into small pieces are ideal. If your pet is picky, try a paste such as peanut but­ter, Vegemite or cream cheese in small amounts.

how much?

It is im­por­tant not to over­feed treats – with their high fat con­tent, this may re­sult in pan­cre­ati­tis, which is a painful con­di­tion. It’s best to use foods that can be bro­ken into smaller pieces. A good mea­sure is to make the treats no big­ger than one of your fin­ger­nails (lit­tle fin­ger­nail for small dogs or cats; thumb­nail for larger dogs). If your pet isn’t picky, try veg­eta­bles such as car­rots or peas, or small pieces of ap­ple.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.