How to Train Your Pet Rat
Training Your Ratty Is Easier Than You Think...
Rats are intelligent, fun, energetic, mischievous, naughty, cuddly and cute. They are also very smart and can pick up basic training very quickly. It's loads of fun to train your little fuzzball and your rat will love it too.
Training Your Rat
Here's the fun bit...
By the way I will be referring to our little rat friend as a 'he' throughout this lens. Basically I don't want to call these little cheeky characters 'it', so I had to pick a sex. Sorry to all you female rat fans out there. I love both boy and girl rats too.
Anyway...Once you've got a good relationship with your rat why not train him? It will add to his day immensely and it's fun for you too. Hey, you could even show him off as a bit of a party trick. The more people that love rats the better, right?
Remember when you train your pet, that even though you are spending quality time with him, he will still need a stimulating environment. You're not there all the time. It is also important to try not to be too demanding and results orientated. Give your rat a break! This is meant to be fun and when it stops being fun your ratty won't want to do it anymore. It is also important to keep it up. If you neglect a certain trick for a while your ratty may forget it. After all he's got more important things to think about - like food!
Litter Training - The simplest and probably most important thing to train.
So let's get started. You can train your ratty using treats or a clicker, or even better, both together.
At the website http://www.RatsRatsRats.com I go into it in more detail, but here I will outline the basics.
Ok, so it's not the most exciting trick, but litter training will make your life easier.
Simply get a litter box, made from a shoe box, cut open tissue box, or buy a plastic small animal litter tray. Next you should put some of your ratties bedding in it. Make sure you also place some of his poops into the box. This will make the litter tray smell familiar and your rat will pick up what he needs to do pretty quickly. At first he will probably still go to the toilet out of the box, so simply pick him up and put him and his poop in the box. You will see that he soon picks up on what he needs to do.
Rats love to be clean and your rat will be happier if he is litter trained, it will also save you money, that you would have spent on cleaning out more often and time.
Rat Books 'N' Stuff - Do your research and find out loads more about caring for and training your pet rats.
I like to read as much as I can about rats, especially when it comes to training them. They are such fascinating animals. Here are some great books to check out. You will be a rat expert in no time!
Coming When Called
You Gave Your Rat A Cute Name - Now Teach Him To Recognise It
This will make all of your "party tricks" a lot easier to teach. You need to build up trust with your rat, before you even attempt anything else and the best way to do this is by spending a lot of time with him, handling him, cuddling and tickling him and of course...Saying His Name.
Say his name when you pick him up, groom him, play with him and always say it in a loving tone. Call him by name and drum your fingers on the ground to get his attention (remember rats don't see as well as us, so don't be offended if he doesn't run up as soon as you enter the room}. Have a treat in your hand and give it to him when he comes. You may also use to use a clicker. If you do, just click it, as you give the treat. It is positive reinforcement.
Soon enough your rat will begin to recognize his name. Some rats seem to pick it up almost instantly. Then you can move onto more exciting things.
Jumping - Yes, you can teach your little friend to jump.
The most important thing is to keep training sessions short and fun. This is not some kind of circus act, just having fun with your rat and keeping him entertained.
To teach your rat to jump place your ratty on your lap and make a little gap between your legs. In one hand hold a delicious treat. Your ratty will have to jump the gap to get to the treat. Wave the treat and say "Jump Ratty" (insert your rats name here) When your pet has done it give them the treat and lots of praise. Get them to do it a few times. Soon they will do it even without a treat, but don't forget plenty of praise. Remember if you are clicker training you should click as you give the treat.
Now this is a cute little trick...
Hold a delicious treat above your ratties head (a thin piece of carrot dipped in hummus is ideal - do your rat's love hummus as much as mine do?). Say "clap Ratty" (for example) and he will reach up for the treat, lift it up a little so his hands meet. Each time he "claps" say "good boy Ratty" and after say three times give him the treat and let him enjoy it, as well as lots of praise from his favorite person (you I hope). Remember budding clicker trainers, click your clicker as you give the treat and lots of praise.
This is the easiest way to train your ratty friend...
Now we all know you can clicker train a dog, but did you know the same principles can be applied to train your gorgeous pet rats? It really is quite simple. First of all you will need to buy a clicker. You can get these at most good pet shops and some supermarkets. Of course you can buy them online too.
Some rats have more sensitive ears than others, so for these little ones you can use the lid of a jar (say a baby food jar) which pops when you press it. This will have a quieter sound than your average clicker. My rats are fine with normal clickers, but just be aware.
Basically all you need to do is click whenever you want to praise your rat. At first you will need to praise your rat as well and of course give them a little treat. If you have a new rat you should experiment (don't mention that word in front of the rats!) to find some his favorite treats. Every rat is different after all!
After a while your rat will pick up that the click is praise in itself and will want to please you and get a click. This is when clicker training becomes really effective. Choose any action your rat performs naturally, such as standing on his hind legs and say a command (stand up) and use the click and treat technique when he does it. Soon he will stand on his back legs to command.
As you can imagine the clicker can be used to train your rat to do almost anything. Please always keep it fun, light and make sure you are thinking about your rat's entertainment, not your own.
Rat Training Tips - Some little extras to help you out...
1. Keep training sessions short (10 minutes is fine)- Rats have lots of exploring to do you know, so keep it short and sweet.
2. Never tell your rat off - Ok, so sometimes your rat doesn't want to play ball. Never get cross. This is meant to be fun remember and you could completely ruin the trust you have built up with your little friend.
3. Some rats like training, some prefer cuddles - Yes sometimes you just have to come to terms with the fact that your rat just isn't that into training. That is fine. Animals are not here for our entertainment after all. Enjoy watching your rat explore, or cuddling him.
4. Be patient - It may take some time to train your ratty. That is fine, just be patient and loving and you will get there.
5. Here are some treats my rats love - carob drops, hummus, carrot sticks, anything humans eat!, pasta, small piece of avocado (too much is bad for them).