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How to Give Your Cat or Dog Commands

How to Give Your Cat or Dog Commands

People who take their dogs to obedience classes usually learn how to give a few commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “down.” For most dogs, these are enough. The basic commands are mostly geared toward keeping dogs under control when they’re on a leash, getting groomed, or waiting to be fed. Dogs who learn these commands are generally more sure of themselves than those who haven’t had any training at all. And, of course, they’re easier to be around. So learning the basics is good for both people and their pets.

Cats can learn all of the same commands that dogs can. But since cats usually don’t accompany their owners in the car or on walks around the neighborhood, most people don’t bother teaching them. This is too bad, because it’s a lot of fun when cats wave bye-bye when you ask them to or come running on command. Regardless of the commands that you want your pets to know, the principles for teaching them are very similar. Here’s what experts advise.

Always say the name first. You have to get their attention, or they won’t even hear the command. When you say their names first, they know they need to listen—it’s like telling them, “Hey, you!” The best names, incidentally, are those with two syllables, and the best commands have one. This makes it easier for pets to tell the difference. Think what happens when you say something like, “Ralph, come.” To pets, they both sound alike at first. When a name has two syllables, pets know it’s an “attention” word, and they’ll be ready to hear the command that comes next.

Speak deeply to dogs. Trainers have noticed that dogs respond best to commands when they’re given in a low, slightly guttural voice. A low pitch means serious business because it’s similar to the sound of a mother’s growl. You don’t want to give high-pitched sounds. To a dog that’s like yapping—it may be annoying, but it’s not something to be taken seriously.

Make mouse sounds for cats. Unlike dogs, cats don’t even notice low-pitched commands. They do notice commands that are given in a high voice, maybe with a little bit of a “sss” preceding them. The “s” sound gets their attention, and the high tone sounds similar to the pitches that rodents make—and no cat is going to ignore that.

Speak in a normal voice.
 Dogs and cats aren’t recruits, and you’re not a drill sergeant. You don’t have to bark commands, but
you don’t want to speak softly either. Speaking in your normal voice or a little louder will get their attention right away and let them know that you’re serious about what you’re saying.

Coax them with your eyes. Making eye contact is important when you’re giving commands to dogs or cats. Some people think it works kind of like a “mind meld” because of the connection you form with your pets. In addition, to dogs, looking them in the eye is both a challenge and a command—it lets them know you’re higher in rank and need to be obeyed. You don’t want to stare at dogs you don’t know or those who are acting aggressively. It won’t make them want to obey; it will make them mad. But it’s fine to make eye contact with cats at any time.

Give yourself big posture. Dogs are very conscious of size because in their world, bigger dogs tend to be the leaders. You can get them to view you the same way by standing up straight when giving commands. Dogs and cats read our entire way of speaking, not just the words. For dogs, you want to stand tall and act like you’re an authority figure.

Shrink for cats. Bigger is better for dogs, but for cats, bending slightly at the knees and making yourself look smaller makes commands much more effective. Cats are very small compared to us. You don’t want to appear threatening, just sincere. If you stand up tall, they may get the message “I’m in trouble,” and they may take off.

5 Easy commands to give your cat!

Teaching your cat simple commands and tricks can be a fun and engaging way to bond with them and stimulate their mind. Here are a couple of tricks you can try teaching your cat:

Sit: Similar to dogs, cats can also learn to sit on command. Start by holding a treat above your cat’s head, slightly out of reach. As they naturally lift their head to follow the treat, their bottom will naturally lower into a sitting position. As soon as they sit, say “sit” and immediately reward them with the treat and praise. Repeat this process consistently, gradually phasing out the treat so that eventually your cat responds to the verbal command alone.

High five: Teaching your cat to do a high five can be an adorable and rewarding trick. Start by holding a treat in your hand and offering it to your cat. Gently tap their paw with your finger, prompting them to lift their paw. As soon as they make any contact with your hand, even if it’s just a slight touch, say “high five” and reward them with the treat and praise. Repeat this process consistently, gradually increasing the contact between their paw and your hand.

Fetch: Just like dogs, cats can learn to fetch objects. Start by using a lightweight toy or a small ball that your cat enjoys playing with. Toss the toy a short distance and encourage your cat to retrieve it. When they bring it back to you, reward them with praise and a treat. Repeat this process consistently, gradually increasing the distance of the toss and reinforcing the concept of bringing the toy back to you.

Come on command: Train your cat to come to you when called. Use their name in a pleasant and inviting tone, and when they respond and approach you, reward them with praise, petting, and treats. Practice this command in different areas of your home and gradually introduce distractions to reinforce their response in various situations.

Stand up: Encourage your cat to stand on their hind legs by holding a treat just above their head. As they reach up to grab the treat, they will naturally stand on their hind legs. Once they do, reward them with the treat and praise. Practice this trick regularly to reinforce the behavior.

Treat under a cup: Hide a treat under one of three cups and encourage your cat to find the treat by sniffing and pawing at the correct cup. Start with the treat partially visible and gradually cover it completely as your cat becomes more skilled at finding it. Reward your cat with the treat and praise when they choose the correct cup.

Using the toilet: Although it may sound unconventional, some cat owners have successfully toilet trained their cats. It requires patience, consistency, and a gradual transition from a litter box to a special toilet training system designed for cats. Consult reliable resources or seek guidance from a professional cat trainer or behaviorist to ensure a safe and successful training process.

Kiss me: Training your cat to give a “kiss” involves associating a specific action, such as touching their nose to your cheek, with a reward. Start by presenting your cheek and offering a treat as they make contact. Repeat this action and reward consistently until your cat associates the cheek touch with receiving a treat. Over time, you can gradually phase out the treat rewards and replace them with praise and affection.

Lay down: Teaching your cat to lie down on command can be useful in various situations. To train this trick, start by having your cat in a standing position. Hold a treat close to their nose and gradually lower it towards the ground, leading them into a lying down position. As they lie down, say the command “lay down” and reward them with the treat and praise. Practice this trick consistently, gradually phasing out the treat reward and reinforcing the verbal command.

Jump: Cats are natural jumpers, so teaching them to jump on command is a fun and engaging trick. Start by using a target, such as a small platform or your hand, and encourage your cat to jump onto it by luring them with a treat or toy. As they make the jump, say the command “jump” and reward them with the treat and praise. Repeat this process, gradually increasing the height or distance of the jump, and reinforce the behavior consistently.

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