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Pet Behavior Training Techniques - Q&A

  Training Tip
Praise, affection and toys can all be used as motivators and rewards but typically food works the best, especially for hungry pets.


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Cat Training Tips - Food as a Training Tool!  

Food for thought!

The Cooking Channel may not promote this fact but food can be an excellent motivator for teaching, shaping and rewarding desirable behaviors to increase them.


Although some animal trainers disagree, using food makes learning fun and rewarding for pets and people! 


Other training rewards include squeaky mouse toy, balls, praise, petting or anything the cat perceives as a reward


How is food used?

It is important to understand the difference between using food as a bribe and using food as a paycheck or salary
Using food, one can usually show the pet what behavior is desired by moving the food where one wants the cat to go. For example, if food is moved skillfully up and back over a hungry cat's head, the cat will find it easier to reach the food by sitting. Releasing the food treat when the cat sits - over time - teaches the cat that sitting is one way to earn a food reward.
ALWAYS praise correct responses as you provide the food as over time the pet will not get food every time but will be reinforced with your praise for a job well done.
Food is the currency of life.  You exchange food for your cat doing certain behaviors. This is a win-win for you both!
Using food as a lure

Begin by holding the treat on the nose or at the lips so that your cat attempts to nibble it.  Once your cat is trying to nibble the food, move the food to lure (move) your cat into the position you want. 

For example, move the food forward and your cat will walk forward.  Move the food back to tilt your cat's head back so that eventually your cat will sit. Move the food up and your cat will sit up.  Luring your cat into position to teach what one  word means is a terrific use of food.  

Using food as a reward

Once you have moved the cat into the desired position, releasing to food becomes the reward and the reinforcer for this new desired behavior. The food becomes the paycheck for doing the job!
End training sessions prior to your cat getting bored or frustrated.  Try to end with a positive note and best response. .

Using food as a reminder

Give a food reward every time when the cat is learning a new behavior to make each lesson clear and to reinforce what you want. Remember pets learn to follow body signals much faster than they learn to associate a verbal cue with a desired behavior. To speed up learning choose one clear hand signal for each behavior you want to teach that resembles the way your lure the pet into the position.


After the pet will follow instructions reliably for either food, hand, or verbal signals, then you are ready to begin to phase out giving food rewards for each success. Start by giving food for every other success and for the best responses. Then vary when you offer food but only give food for the best responses.


Use food to "tune up" learning and keep training fun for your pet!

:  After your cat has learned to follow your hand each time by sitting to get the food reward, you can begin to lure with an empty hand and have the reward ready in the other hand. As the cat learn to sit following your hand motion, begin to add the word, "Sit." It takes pet MUCH longer to learn verbal human language than it does for them to learn body language so be patient. Once your cat follows your cue reliably, you will know if food is  a paycheck or bribe.  If you cat ONLY sits when the cat knows you have food, then it is a bribe. If the cat sits expecting food and you give it on a varying schedule, then you will know your cat is trying to earn a paycheck.

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