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Teach Your Cat to Lie Down

Cats can be trained to follow commands.

It might surprise you to learn that cats can be taught to follow commands similarly to dogs. Though many people don't think of cats as trainable, they can be taught many things. The trick to training cats is to always use patience, positivity, and praise.

Train Your Cat to Lie Down

Teaching your cat a "down" command may be the most natural place to start when training your cat. Here's how:

  • First, get some super yummy cat treats that you know your kitty likes.
  • Second, get a clicker or decide on a word that will let your cat know she's on the right track, such as "yes" or "good."
  • Settle yourself near a spot your cat likes to lie down anyway, such as a favorite bed or blanket.
  • Invite your cat to come and lie down in that spot.
  • When the kitty moves as though she's going to lie down, give the "down" command.
  • When she finishes lying down, use the clicker or the word you're decided on and then give a small piece of treat right away.

Over time, repeat this training process often until your kitty associates the down command with her lying down and begins to respond to it.

What if Your Cat Doesn't Lie Down?

If you aren't able to catch your cat naturally lying down to teach the "down" command, you can use a lure to get her into the right position. Here's how:

  • Use a toy or a treat in front of your kitty.
  • Slowly lower the toy or treat and, as your kitty follows it down, click or say "yes" or "good" as soon as she begins to drop her body to the ground.

This might go more easily if your cat is on a raised surface such as a chair, so you can pull the treat or toy down below her.

As time goes on, wait longer to click and reward until you get to a point where you're only doing it once your cat is entirely lying down.

Extra Training Tips

Here are a few general training tips to keep in mind for teaching things to your cat.

  • Make sure you train daily—even a couple times daily—for a few minutes each session to keep things fresh in your kitty's mind.
  • If you or your cat begins to get frustrated, end the session.
  • Try to end each session on a positive note so your cat has fun and wants to continue next time.
  • Remember to stay positive and not get frustrated with your kitty. She will respond much better to positive reinforcement, even if she progresses only in tiny increments, than she will to negative reinforcement.
  • It can help to do training sessions when your kitty is hungry if you are using treats as a reward.
  • Sometimes it helps your cat focus, especially if she is young, if you engage her in an interactive play session before your training session. That can get some excess energy out so she can concentrate on the training more efficiently.

Once you've successfully trained your cat to respond to the down command, you can move on to other commands and tricks. Often, subsequent commands are easier to teach your cat than the first one because she's learned about the click or "yes" and better understands what you're trying to do.

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Clicker Training for Cats: Come When Called

Clicker Training for Cats: Sit

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