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Train your Cat to Prairie Dog and come when called

Updated on August 1, 2013
Classic prairie dog stance with folded arms
Classic prairie dog stance with folded arms | Source

Cats are commonly believed to be un-trainable. But, you will find if you put in a little effort, cats can be trained to perform a variety of tricks. The most pertinent trick is of course to have your cat come when you call them. The next trick that, as you will see if you perform this, looks adorable. It involves your cat standing for a short period of time on its hind legs. Because the cat’s front paws hang naturally at the joint when they stand due to gravity, it resembles a prairie dog. So, here are the steps:

  1. Obtain a cat treat. There are innumerable types of cat treats that exist. The best kind are meat flavored and chewy. I personally use Pounce, but any quality kind will do.
  2. Shake the treats in the container while either “piskering” or saying your cat’s name. Piskering is the word I use to denote the sound you make when you call for your cat. It has the repeated sound with your lips: “pss pss pss.”
  3. If your cat comes great. If not, you will need to go to them, shake the container, then give your cat the treat. This will associate the sound of the treats and their name, with getting food.
  4. Do this for several days. Eventually, just calling for your cat will be necessary and you won’t need any treats for them to come to you.
  5. Now for the prairie dog. Repeat steps 1 through 3 again. Except before you give them the treat, hold it about 8 inches above their head. This will cause them to naturally stand up to get at the treat. Give it to them and pet them.
  6. Do this for several days. After a while, switch up the routine by not having any treats at all but calling them, holding your hand above their head, and seeing if they perform the trick. You will find they will.
  7. After about 3 weeks you no longer need the treats; however, I suggest once a week or every other week you perform the tricks (calling and prairie dog) with treats so that they do not forget the ultimate reason why their doing the tricks in the first place.

And that’s it. I hope you try it out and have fun with it. You can add more tricks later, but these should be easy enough to build your cat’s repertoire.

Don't allow yourself to believe this!
Don't allow yourself to believe this! | Source

Troubleshooting

If you’re having trouble with this process try these steps:

1. If your cat seems disinterested when you shake the container and call their name, you need to engage them. Try making it a fun game. Add in a string or favorite toy so that your cat is interested in this new activity. Once they associate the shaking/food with something they enjoy, it will accelerate the process.

2. If your cat just looks at you without standing on hind legs when you offer the treat, you need to more gradually increase the complexity of the trick. First and foremost you need to master the “come to me trick.” Once your cat understands the trick/reward process it makes subsequent tricks much easier. Place the food right under their mouth at first while repeating the words “prairie dog” (I know this may sound odd because they haven’t actually done it yet, but the idea is for your cat to perform the trick by simple commands). After several times of that your cat will want the treat and will try to obtain it however they can. Now place it just out of reach of their head. They will likely give a short burst of standing on their hind leg while swatting at your hand with the treat. This is perfect! It means your cat is engaged and is on their way to learning the trick.

Remember: Always treat your cat with love and care when teaching them new tricks. This should not be an activity that causes them undue stress. Cats are not pack animals like dogs are and are very independent not overly seeking attention. So you need to help them adjust to trick performing gradually and with patience. But take heart, most cats will be able to perform these tricks within a month of putting these techniques into practice (no one can guarantee that all cat breeds can perform tricks just as all dog breeds cannot perform tricks. Each pet is unique and will have to be handled as such).

Do you believe your cat can learn the prairie dog and to come on command?

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Cat Coming When Called

The above video demonstrates the potential ability of your cat to come when called. It's important to remember to not use harsh tone or yelling when calling for your cat. It should always be pleasant and caring.

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