Sunday, January 22, 2012

Walking the cats

I've been teaching the Coons to walk on a leash. Actually, I can't take much credit with Heath. He just sort of does it. I have no plans to ever walk them outside. It's just more of a training exercise for fun. The first video is Heath's first time on leash back in September. All I really did is have some Greenie cookies and he followed me around. Now I know that when most people walk a cat the idea is mostly just to follow the cat. After many years of dog training, I felt like I should have some say in the matter. So I went about it the same way I would train a puppy. I give reinforcement for the cat's choice to be in position next to me. Heath did better than some dogs do the first time!

I knew Cali would be more challenging, so the biggest change was to use a much higher value reward. For Cali I used turkey baby food, something I was pretty sure she would want. Although she is not inclined to just follow me around, I use the same technique, encouraging her to walk up by my leg and giving her the treat when she is in that position. It doesn't take long for them to see the value in that location.

You can see that with Cali in this first training session, I have baby food on my finger and I show it to her to encourage (lure) her into position. Heath has already learned to walk up to my position, so one of the things I have added with him and will teach to Cali, is for him to target my hand. I have treats in the hand opposite from Heath. I show him the flat of my hand on the side I want him to come to and reward him for touching his nose to my hand. This means he can wander and lag a bit, but I have a way to ask him to join up with me. We'll see how this continues to work and what kind of progress the Coons make.  It's early days on this journey!

1 comment:

  1. I'm very interested. I'll follow along from Ottawa, Canada. Deb=^..^=x4