Why dogs are easier to train than cats
“Cats are untrainable; they are much too wilful and independent.” You have probably heard that old chestnut before. People often presume you can’t train a cat because unlike dogs, cats are deeply unbothered about pleasing their humans. And they are much too stubborn! But is there any truth to this story? Why are cats and dogs the way they are and can you use that knowledge in their training?
The story of cats being untrainable is an easily dispelled myth. One quick Google search will yield countless examples of cats that have learned lots of fun and useful skills. However, training a cat does require more effort than training a dog. But is there an explanation for that difference? The answer lies in Mother Nature. For the vast majority of our pets, an offer of tasty food is the easiest way to get things done. You may also know that our canine and feline friends are domesticated versions of wild ancestors. In the wild, animals have to work their tails off to make sure they get the food they need to survive. The difference in how these wild ancestors approach the hunt, explains why dogs are so much easier to train than cats.
Taking the easy way out
The wolf, Charlie and Bella’s ancient ancestor, is a pack animal through and through, meaning they always hunt with other wolves. A pack of wolves chasing prey often have to persevere for many hours before they can reap their rewards, but that may not even happen. For a wolf, the hunt can be a major test of endurance. Our dogs, snoring up a storm in their cosy beds, may seem far removed from wolves, but their primal instincts are alive and well. That is why Charlie doesn’t mind doing silly stuff for a nice bit of food. Sitting, rolling over or running an agility track together is much more appealing than chasing a bison for days. When you look at it like that, dogs are rather clever. The easy option is much less effort!
Cats have a standby mode
Hunting felines are less persistent then wolves. These loners hunt in short bursts, during which they use an enormous amount of energy. When they do well, they catch prey that is large enough to feed them for many days, but more often they don’t. To preserve their energy, cats sleep for the majority of the day. A tiger will chill out in the shade for 16 to 20 hours a day. You see that reflected in our domestic cats. They also sleep or snooze most of the day away and use up their energy during play or when they go outside to explore. True to their primal instincts, cats are unlikely to spend a lot of energy on small bits of food.
How can you use this knowledge to train your cat?
Those characteristics make cats a bit harder to train than dogs, but we promise you can do it. Just consider your training carefully. Your cat will always consider the benefits: is this worth my effort? So make sure the reward you offer is super tasty, like Chicken Snacks by Pets Unlimited, so your cat will know their effort will pay off. The food you gove them every day will probably not do the trick. It is also important that the task you are asking your cat to do doesn’t outweigh the reward. The absolute most important thing is that you practice patience and create a positive experience for both of you. Before you know it, your cat will have mastered any skill you can think of!