There are four basic training methods often used in training animals. Decide which method you want to use with your newest family member. Here is a little information about each method to help you decide.
Verbal training consists of saying a word such as “yes” whenever your kitten does what is expected. Coupled with a reward, this reinforces the behaviour that you want.
Target training involves an object that your pet learns to touch with his/her nose. Once the pet touches the target from a short distance, he/she can learn to touch the target from a greater distance.
This method of training is great for getting a kitten from point A to point B without pulling or having to drag the pet into a position. Targeting can also be helpful in training a pet to do tricks.
With kittens, you can use a targeting stick or an old wooden spoon. Take a piece of coloured tape or use a marker and draw a line around the spot on the stick or spoon you want the pet to touch. Place the stick or spoon an inch in front of the animal’s nose. The second the kitten touches the targeting stick or spoon, mark and reward your pet.
If your pet does not reach out to touch the object, try rubbing a little cheese, chicken, or fish on your hand or on the targeting stick. This will usually get the animal’s attention. Repeat the above exercise with the new smell on the object.
Once your pet consistently touches the object when you say the word “target,” extend the distance between your pet and the target or your hand. Remember, every time you ask the pet to target, it is your job to mark and reward when he/she demonstrates the desired behaviour. Continue to gradually extend the distance until the kitten will walk around in a circle or across the room to target the targeting stick or your hand when asked to do so.
Hand signals can be used as a replacement for verbal training. It is most commonly used when training a deaf animal, when training from a distance, in competitions, or just for fun. There are many different hand signals you can use in training.
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