How to Train Your Pet with Love

Feb 8, 2019 | Pets

Finding one’s passion in life often takes years to discover. Then there are people like Jane Anne Franklin who found her calling early. She’s so well suited for this path it’s hard to imagine her in any other career. Jane Anne is the curator of mammals and supervisor of animal training at the Louisville Zoo. Her admiration for all creatures, great and small, is evident by the way she talks about them and how well she interacts with them daily.

Here are some tips from Jane Anne on how you can work with your pets at home. Also, find out about one of the best things you can and should be doing to help control your pet’s behavior. 

Q: What do you do if your cat gives you sharp ‘love bites’ on your chin or hand all the time?
A: I would get some toys for the cat to play with, like things on a string, and when it starts to nip see if it wants to play with something. If this is a new cat, some of this behavior has to do with settling in.

Q: What do you do if while petting your cat it suddenly grabs your hand with its claws, bites and starts kicking at it? How can you stop this behavior?
A: Most of the time young animals’ play behavior mimics what it’s going to do as an adult. I wouldn’t go for the belly first to pet it. Maybe start lightly on the back. If it does get aggressive, you can always ‘scruff’ the cat — pull on the back of its neck as its mother would have done. Kittens go limp when they’re scruffed. Or, give it toys to roughhouse with.

Q: How do you stop your dog or cat from charging out the door when it’s opened?
A: I use treats. I’m going to redirect their attention, and we’re going to practice that behavior. When you’re going out the door give them something to do. You have to practice that. When you go out, you have to be conscious of where the cat or dog is. You don’t yell at them, you reward them for staying.

Q: How do you teach your dog to stop barking and whining?
A: Typically there’s a reason for this. The owner needs to figure out what the reason is and change it. Fussing at the dog for this behavior is still giving it attention, and it doesn’t care in what form. Give it something else to do. Also, don’t leave your dog confined for a long period of time. Before it’s left alone it needs to be taught what is expected. When you’re out in the yard with the dog and it’s carrying on, you need to give it something to do or engage it somehow. Say, “That’s good, that’s enough, thank you. Quiet.” When the dog gets quiet, you give it a cookie.

Q: How do you teach your pet to stop begging for food when you’re at the dinner table?
A: Again, you need to give your pets something else to do. Ignore them. Don’t say anything and no eye contact. Or, give your dog a hollow bone with peanut butter or cheese. They learn they have to wait until the people eat.