Want to train your pet but don’t know where to start? Vet technician shares her eight-step process

Dog and cat lying together on the floor
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.

You likely already know that it's possible to train a dog, but can you train a cat? Well, according to vet technician Tabitha Kucera, the answer is yes!

Regardless of whether you have a canine companion or a feline friend in your family, the tips for training your dog or cat tend to follow a very similar formula. 

Below, Kucera shares the eight-step process she's used over many years to successfully train her four-legged friends.

Read on as she reveals all...

1. Be prepared before you start: "Before beginning a training session, have your treats, treat pouch, and any props that may be needed," advises Kucera. "You want to be ready to click/treat immediately as the training session begins. Being organized sets you up for success!⁣"

2. Find reinforcers the learner loves: "Identify what motivates your pet – it could be treats, toys, or affection. Use their favorites to reinforce wanted behaviors.⁣"

3. Ensure success at each step: "Break⁣ the goal behavior down into small enough pieces that the learner always has a realistic chance to earn a reinforcer. Mark and reinforce at each step. ⁣

"For example, if the goal behavior is stationing on a mat for one minute, you are going to reinforce the animal for looking at the mat, walking towards the mat, two paws on mat, four paws on mat, staying on mat for five seconds, etc. This also helps to provide feedback to the animal, it’s a conversation between you and your animal," Kucera explains.

4. Train one step at a time: "Don't overwhelm your furry friend with too much at once. Focus on mastering one skill before moving on to the next.⁣"

5. Relax criteria when something changes: "When introducing new criteria such as adding a distraction, going into a new environment, or a loud noise outside, relax criteria," says Kucera.

"For example with the stationing on the mat behavior listed above, if the animal was consistently offering four paws on the mat and we go into a new environment, relax criteria to first steps of walking towards mat, two paws on mat, to set up the animal for success⁣."

6. Keep sessions short: "Short and focused training sessions keep both you and your furry friend engaged.⁣"

7. Keep your attention on the learner: "Stay focused during training to communicate clearly with your animal. Also, assess their body language throughout to keep it positive," Kucera advises.

8. Keep it fun for you and the learner: "Training is a bonding experience. Make it enjoyable, filled with praise, and play. A happy animal learns faster!"

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.