By: Deanna Chesnut. M.A.,
Author, Purrs & Promises
To read more: http://www.purrfectalker.net
TRICK OR TREATS?
Well, treats, of course! Who wouldn’t choose those, including the pets.
When I went to work at the State Hospital, my first training was a “movie” about using rewards of primary (oral) reinforcers, e.g., cigarettes, candy, soft drinks, to “entice” patients to good behavior.
My cats get rewarded for good behavior, for training purposes and when I catch them “being good.” The problem, of course, is most “treats” aren’t good for us, including packaged treats for pets and ice cream and candy for us humans.
So, what’s a good pet parent to use? I look for something that is “more than a treat.” That might be a package labeled “Dental Health” or “Pet Calm.” I also check for “real meat” vs. “meat flavors” and “grains” vs. “gluten meal.” Freeze dried, such as bonita (tuna) flakes, are healthier with natural oils that help with hair balls and keep the coat soft and tangle-free.
Holiday cooking? Make treats for yours and your cat-loving friends’ pets. Here is a recipe for a healthy, organic treat: https://moderncat.com/articles/diy-eat-homemade-organic-cat-treats and here are ten more: https://www.care.com/c/stories/6291/10-easy-homemade-cat-treats-your-cat-will-lov/ Just remember that, because home-made usually doesn’t include preservatives, keep them refrigerated. (For the pup parents among us: https://showmetheyummy.com/homemade-dog-treats-recipe/
My Birdie loves her new cat food—Muse–definitely on the expensive scale, but it has definitely helped with hairballs and made her coat even softer. The cheaper (grocery brands such as Meow Mix, etc.) are not as healthy because they contain more salt and “fillers.” But, if the budget is tight, I buy a small sack of these cheaper kibbles and use them only in place of treats. This also gives some variety to the canned-food-only cat diets.
We play Bug Hunt with the cats. I sling about 6 or 8 treats per cat across the room. The cats scatter and try to be the first to catch a “bug.” They get some entertainment, can’t gobble the bits too fast, and get some exercise, all while pet parent is recovering from the day.
Treats are my primary training tool. The very first thing, after cat box training, is to teach them to come when called. I literally carry treats around in my pocket most of the time. Each time I call and they show themselves, they get a reward. Usually, that’s a treat, a bite of any meat I am eating, a bowl to lick (hey, they go through the dishwasher!) or I throw a little piece of wadded up foil to play with, always accompanied by an emphatic, “Good (name)!”
If I’m calling them because I need to brush them or cut their nails, the treat always comes first, and there is always a treat after the dreaded task. Try this, and I’m pretty sure you will find your 4-leggeds much more compliant.
And this holiday is called: Happy Halloween—so dice up a weenie and give them a holiday treat for being good at tricks.