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How do I toilet-train my cat?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I have a four-month-old German Shepherd puppy. I have tried teaching him basic things like ‘heel’, ‘sit’, ‘jump’ etc. Though he seems to be understanding while I am teaching him, and repeats it a couple of times, he refuses to listen to my commands in general. Is he too small to remember it at all or am I not training him properly?
    — Shashank Pai

Hey Shashank,
It is good to know that you as a responsible pet parent and have taken up the onus of training your German Shepherd puppy yourself for basic obedience commands, which will not only enhance the bond between you and your puppy, but would also turn him into an obedient dog. For starters, yes, your puppy is young, but this is the right age to discipline him, although a lot depends, on the kind of technique you have incorporated, to teach him to heel. Very often, once a puppy has a concrete idea of a command, owners tend to forget to positively reinforce the dog, either with verbal praise or in the form of toys or food. Also continue to practice on a daily basis, keep training sessions short and end them with either a play session, treats or grooming him with a brush. Also if your puppy is not obeying your commands during a training session, even after repeated attempts, its best to ignore him for a while and end the session. It’s best not to use the choke chain method to teach him to heel, as you may end up gagging him. Instead one of the methods that you could use, is a toy, to get his attention to walk closer to you and remember to always praise him when he does.

How do I toilet train my seven-month old Persian cat. I have seen many cats use the toilet when they need to relieve themselves, but my kitten chooses the spot behind my sofa. How do I make her use the toilet?
    — Suhaib Shaikh

Hey Suhaib,
What you must do, firstly, is to place a litter tray, at the spot behind the sofa where she relieves herself. You get her to use the litter tray, by just depositing her faeces and urine, from a previous day in the litter tray. The smell will tell her that is the litter tray where she has to urinate or defecate. Praise her every time she does it, once a couple of days have passed and she has been using the litter tray to relieve herself, shift the tray to the toilet and direct her there. Once she is using the litter tray in the toilet, transfer some contents of a used litter tray in to a bag, which is to be taped in to the rim of the toilet and take away the litter tray. With a little patience and determination from your end, your cat will then begin to use the toilet. To deter her from using the spot behind the sofa, once the litter tray is no longer there, neutralise the scent by using a detergent. Another alternative,  if you still catch her trying to relieve herself there, use a water pistol to startle her by aiming for her face which should act as a deterrent. So happy flushing!

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