Training Nemo 2

Crate— There are two reasons why I train Nemo to go to his crate on command, or at least beNemo and his crate comfortable with the crate: 1. Considering his condition, I figure that going to the vet will be a very large part of his life, if not a weekly event. 2. We are considering taking him with us on a RV trip in the summer. He will be allowed out-and-about in the RV but we assume that he will be spending some time in the crate, too. Here’s how I train him: The first day or two I prepared him for the training by hiding small treats in the blanket in the crate before leaving for work. At the end of the day the treats were gone so obviously he was comfortable enough to go in. When the real training began, I placed a few treats in the crate and call him over to get them. When he was inside the crate I would repeat the word “Crate”. Next I’d stand next to the crate with a treat in my hand and say “crate”. When he got into the crate to investigate, I reinforced the word “crate” and gave him a treat right at the momentNemo entering crate when he turned around. It took him a few sessions just to go into the crate voluntarily when I was standing next to it. Once I’m sure he got the word “crate”, I started to give the command from about 3 feet away from the crate then slowly moved further. In the beginning Nemo needed me to walk him to the crate but after about 5-8 sessions, he could walk to the crate by himself from 12+ feet away. Training him to go to the crate is proven to be the most difficult thus far. I need to refresh his memory from time to time. After almost 3 months he still pretends that he doesn’t understand me sometimes. The good thing is that at least he’s not afraid of his crate. Sometimes during training sessions he’d protest by staying in the crate and refuse to come out.

Current success rate: 55% with treats, 30% without treats.

Lay Down—This one is quite easy, too. It only took Nemo 2 training sessions of total 15 minutes. Lying on commandFirst I got him to the sitting position, and then I held a treat in front of his nose, pulled it downward and away from him. In the first training session he wasn’t grasping the idea of crawling he would keep lowering his head, trying to get the treat. When he did that I pulled the treat away and started over. I stopped the training in about 10 minutes because we weren’t getting anywhere. On the second day he all of a sudden got it! He crawled down when I said the words “Lay down” and I’d give him the treat right away. At first I thought he might have gotten the wrong idea that I wanted him to “crawl” instead of “lay down” so I waited a little before giving the treat. Apparently I worried too much. After a few times of “crawling”, he started lying down. The funny thing is, the next few days when I gave the command “lay down”, Nemo would look down and look around to see if the floor was satisfactory to him. It was easy to get him to lay down on the carpet or wooden floor but concrete floor was a complete different story. He’d resist until a “stare off” began between us.

Current success rate: 98% with treats, 88% without treats.


Harness—A lot of people say that getting an adult cat to walk on harness is nearly impossible. I had to try because of the RV trip coming up in the summer. I would like to take Nemo out so he could at least enjoy the nature from time to time. Judging from his previous training record, I thought it was quite possible. I’m glad to say that I was Nemo rolling on the floorright; actually, it wasn’t that hard, either. Exactly like the book I referred to before the training, once I put on the harness Nemo started crawling and rubbing his tummy against the floor. When he did walk, he walked very low to the ground and lay down right away. It almost seemed that the harness was preventing him from moving freely. I started to wonder if the harness was too tight for Nemo’s size. But once I pulled my old trick out of the hat—treats, he started following the treat in front of his nose. Whenever he started walking I’d say “Come on, Nemo!” and I’d repeat it throughout the walk to encourage him. The first training session lasted for about 15 minutes. At the end I gave him lots of praises, and most importantly, quite a few treats. It took Nemo about 2 training sessions to learn to walk normally for a long time (about 15 minutes) without rubbing his tummy. When the leash was introduced, harness became the least of Nemo’s worry and he became very content with just the harness on.

Figure 8 harnessThe problem that remains until today is to put the harness on him. When I take out the harness he usually gets excited because he knows he’ll get lots of treats with that thing on. But if I don’t put it on him and buckle up quickly, he would start struggling. Putting the harness on, therefore, became Mike’s job. All the books I’ve read and people I’ve talked to recommended the “Figure 8” harness. It wraps around the cat’s body very securely, as oppose to the “H” harness, which a cat can slip out with enough effort.

Walk on Leash—When Nemo started to be comfortable with walking on harness, I introduced the leash. Surprisingly this wasn’t that hard. Nemo follows me around the house anyway so it wasn’t difficult to get him to walk with me. At first he seemed a little scared by the “rope” looking thing that connected him to me. He put up quite a protest (well, for an easy-going cat like Nemo, the most violent protest he could come up with was to roll around on his back and refuse to get up). The first training session wasn’t a happy one. Close upHe ended up rolling on the floor and pulling on the leash slightly. Second session was so much better! He started walking with me for a short distance. Whenever he stopped I’d let him rest a little and say: “Come on, Nemo! Come on.” This usually got him on his feet again and that’s when I gave him the treat. I never gave him treats to make him get up. That would give him the wrong idea that if he stops he’d get something good. I want to enforce good behavior, which is getting up to walk with me, not stopping.

It took Nemo only about 2-3 tries to walk nicely with me. Now we can walk around the house, including getting up and down the stairs, for up to 30 minutes! If he’s not in a good mood I’d cut it short. It took him only 7 or 8 training sessions, in total including the harness training! I believe Nemo totally gets the idea. He just doesn’t see the point of walking back and forth in the house senselessly. On leashIt’s not what he does anyway, with or without the leash and harness. He finds it boring. Sooner or later I will have to take him outside for a walk. I will not, however, walk him out the door. I don’t want him to think that walking out the doors is an acceptable behavior. I’ll probably get him into his crate and carry him somewhere before I let him out.

Walking on leashI found that Nemo doesn’t like it when he sees the leash right in front of his face. I should have gotten a black leash instead of the pretty red one we have. The red is too distracting.

Current success rate: (outdoor) 100% without treats. (indoor) 95% with treats.

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