Introducing a Cat to a Dog: With A Step by Step Training Plan

A few weeks ago, I did something bonkers. I decided to get a cat. That might not seem so strange until you realize that I live with a dog who kills things. Breezy is a 9 yr. old husky x border collie. He has killed birds, rodents and rabbits. He would have LOVED to add 'cat' to that list.

Historically, Breezy has been totally unable to function cognitively with a cat in the vicinity: lights on, no-one home. He couldn't eat, take treats or respond to his name. When we have stayed with friends who have cats it has taken at least 24 hrs before he could be distracted from trying to access them. Even when he could be distracted he went right back to hunting as soon as he could. With a couple of near misses out and about, cats were BIG on his radar!

So why the dickens did I want a cat? Well, I wanted to train another species. So, in a fit of impulsiveness, Speck, the 12-week- old kitten, arrived. I'm pleased and relieved to be able to say it has been a total success.

Here's how I did it... 

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1470 Hits

Language and Dog Training: Do the Words We Use Matter?

Ok, I admit it! At heart I am a scientist. My training is in maths, physics and psychology – I'm proud of my geek status and am happy to own it! However, the people I train on a daily basis are not geeks. They do not get a thrill when confronted with a new scientific bit of jargon to digest; they just want to be able to DO THE THING, dammit! So, wi...
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2554 Hits

Using a ‘Focus Point’ to Teach Duration

Hands up — who has trouble teaching the concept of duration to their dogs? 

Maybe all your other dogs have just gotten it, but now you have one who, well, just doesn't. It can be tricky, especially with sensitive dogs who tend to shut down at the mere hint of a 'missed click.' You know the ones; they can offer you a nose touch multiple times, but each is so fast you struggle to time your marker to when the dog is actually touching your target. And if you are able to time that click just right, heaven help you if you delay it for a split second – your dog will interpret that as a 'mistake' and will be too traumatized to train again for a week.

Or the hyper motivated ones: they can respond to your down cue super-fast, but they appear to have rubber elbows – as soon as they touch the ground they bounce back up again! Sure, you can get the illusion of duration easily enough by feeding frantically in position, but as soon as the food slows down – boing! Dog is standing again!

Both of these types of dogs, the super sensitive and the super motivated, can be frustrating to train.

However, a year or so ago I fell over a neat little trick to help with both types of dog. I'm sure that it's not new (few things are!), and I doubt that it will be life changing for many of you, but if you are struggling to teach duration, it may be the key you've been looking for: I now teach duration behaviors using a focus point. 

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5129 Hits