Category Archives: tricks

How to Train a Cat to Do Tricks

By Julia Williams

“Train a cat? Ha ha! Very funny. That’s a joke, right?” No, it isn’t. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to train a cat to do tricks. You really can teach your cat to sit, shake, give you a high five, fetch on command and any other trick you want. But (and this is a BIG but)… it won’t be easy. Then again, if it was too easy the thrill of victory wouldn’t be half as sweet!

If you want to teach your cat to do tricks, you need a wealth of four things: patience, determination, time and cat treats. Anyone who is familiar with the independent nature of cats knows why training them requires lots of the first three things. Unlike our canine friends, cats really have no innate desire to please anyone except themselves. As for the cat treats, there’s simply no greater motivator for felines than food. Praise? Cats have no use for praise, and although most do enjoy a good brushing or petting, it’s just not enough to inspire them to do your bidding.

So before you begin to train a cat, it’s wise to stock up on some tasty cat treats. You really can’t go wrong with FELIDAE TidNips™. These soft cat treats are made with real chicken meat and supplemented with Vitamin E, an antioxidant, and Omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat. More importantly, they are delicious! (No, I haven’t eaten any myself, but the reaction I get from my three cats at treat time is all I need to know).

If you let your cat “free feed” dry food, consider switching to two feedings a day and remove the 24-hour kibble buffet. Then you can try training your cat to do tricks before their scheduled meal time, which makes the food reward even more motivational.

Another important aspect of cat training is that you have to coax them to do what you want, such as “sit” or “shake.” When they do, say the command loudly and clearly, and immediately give them their food reward. You can also praise them lavishly and pet them, although as I said before, this is not nearly as effective as the cat treat.

If you don’t succeed after a few days (and you probably won’t), don’t get discouraged. Remember the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Simply keep trying. Trust me…training a cat to do tricks can be done!

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Do Dogs and Cats Get Cabin Fever?

By Julia Williams

Around this time every year, the side effects of winter start to take their toll on my household. My three cats and I all become irritable, depressed, bored, restless, frustrated, and just plain ticked off at the world. The bitter cold and knee-deep snow make the outdoors inhospitable, so we hole up indoors. On good days we are able to stay out of mischief; on the darkest days of winter we go stir crazy, which generally results in some sort of bad behavior. What that behavior is varies with the day (and the species), but yes – just like humans, pets can and do get Cabin Fever.

While not an actual disease as the name suggests, Cabin Fever is a state of mind. It’s a claustrophobic reaction brought on by an extended stay in a confined space or a remote, isolated area. Although Cabin Fever is more prevalent in winter, it can occur any time of the year.

Normally well-behaved dogs and cats suffering from Cabin Fever may begin to pick fights with other family pets. They might stare vacantly out the window all day, chew on things they’re not supposed to, or race around the house like something possessed. So what’s a responsible pet owner to do when the weather outside is frightful? Find ways to make being indoors more enjoyable!


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How to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over


By Suzanne Alicie

Dogs love their masters, they love to please them and be rewarded with praise and treats. Pet owners love to see their dogs perform tricks and enjoy the interaction of training and working with them to teach them the tricks. One of the oldest tricks to teach a dog is to roll over. Dog training in and of itself can be challenging unless you understand how to relate to your dog. Teaching a dog a trick is similar to starting a child in kindergarten – you have to start with the basics and work your way up.

Teaching your dog to roll over is fairly simple once your dog has the basic obedience commands down. If your dog knows sit, stay and lie down, it will be easy to build on these commands and teach rolling over and even other tricks.

In order to teach your dog to roll over, you will need to start with having him lie down. Once he is lying down you can begin to use the words “roll over” followed by a belly rub and praise to get him to roll onto his back. This may take several sessions. But before you know it you will be able to say “lie down” and “roll over” and before the words are out your dog will be on his back waiting for his belly rub.

One you teach your dog to roll onto his back, you can place a treat beside his head and say roll over at the same time to teach him that rolling all the way over will get him a treat and praise instead of just a belly rub. It may take a while to teach your dog to roll all the way over without stopping in the middle, but with time and patience your dog will become an excellent roller.

Patience is the key when teaching your dog any trick. Repetition of the key phrases, treats and praise make it easy for your dog to understand what you want from him. Once your dog learns about rolling over you can leave out the treats as long as you remember to praise your dog when he performs the trick for you. Since dogs are often ambitious when it comes to pleasing their owners, training and teaching tricks is a time consuming, but relatively easy task.

Dogs are very intelligent creatures, and you may see that after a while your dog will go through a series of tricks as soon as you hold up a treat. He may show off his whole repertoire without you saying a word. This is always a fun time for families, when the training and effort they have put into teaching the dog tricks is rewarded effortlessly and enthusiastically.

There are many tricks that dogs can learn, from dancing and rolling over to fetching the paper or even opening doors. Once your dog knows the basic commands, you can explore all the fun tricks and talents he will be able to perform.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix


By Julia Williams

What would you do if you adore dogs, are a natural born comedian and love to clown around? If you’re like Johnny Peers, you’d train a menagerie of lovable mutts to perform a comical canine routine with you, and proceed to tickle the funny bone of animal lovers nationwide. And that’s just what Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix have done, for the last 30 years!

This clever collaboration between man and dog(s) is a delightful show. Featuring amazing canine feats, flawless comedic timing and fun choreography, Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix gets audiences howling with laughter, and begging for more. Peers performs as a Chaplin-like clown who leads his 15 four-legged sidekicks through a series of challenging tricks and amusing antics. The personable pack of mutts jump rope, climb ladders, walk the tightrope, skateboard, knock Johnny down, and walk all over him. If I could only use three words to describe this unique slapstick act, I’d choose: hilarious, frenetic and entertaining.

I chatted with Johnny recently by phone, and the one word I’d choose to describe the man behind the Muttville Comix act is: joker. He claimed he could “dance like Michael Jackson,” and when I acted impressed he said, “no, not really.” When he found out I wasn’t married and liked cats, he asked “What’s wrong with you?” So it seems that Johnny, ever the comedian even without his dogs, props and stage makeup, has not only created a successful career out of doing something he loves, but what he does best – which is make people laugh.

Johnny’s comedic training began at an early age when, after discovering Charlie Chaplin movies, he proceeded to watch them nonstop. Then again, I suppose it didn’t hurt that Johnny grew up around the circus. His dad ran a concession stand for the Ringling Circus, and when Johnny wasn’t helping out there he’d sneak away to hang out with the clowns. He learned a few tricks and later, studied at the Ringling Clown College and graduated from there in 1970.

Johnny got his first pup from a shelter in 1972. She was a sweet little Beagle mix named Freckles, and when Johnny realized that she learned tricks easily, he decided to incorporate her into his comedy routine. “At the time, I didn’t know anything about training dogs, but she and I worked out a great little act,” Johnny said. In 1980, after Johnny had adopted several more dogs –and better training methods –the Muttville Comix was born.

These days, Johnny and his canine comics travel from pet expos to state fairs to school assemblies in a fully equipped motor coach. His current roster of talented dog stars includes Daphne, reportedly the world’s only skateboarding Bassett Hound; a ladder-climbing Fox Terrier named Her Royal Squeaky; Sir Winston, a riotous Pointer mix who will only answer to “Sir”; and Mr. Pepe, who responds only to commands in Spanish.

Based on experience, Peers advises people who are interested in training their own dogs to: keep it short, happy and sweet. He says that dogs are great observers, and showing them what you want them to do is the best way to train them. And don’t forget to give them lots of treats and praise.

Based on his impressive resume, it would seem that Johnny does indeed know his stuff. Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix have appeared in the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, on Primetime Live, Circus of the Stars, and David Letterman, at Disneyland, Busch Gardens and the Big Apple Circus. They won 1st place on Animal Planet’s Pet Star for the 2003 season, and have even performed at the White House!

If you have a chance to see Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix in person, I highly recommend that you go. Their next big appearance is at the West Michigan Pet Expo on April 24th and 25th in Grand Rapids, MI. You can also see a photo gallery and videos of Johnny Peers and his comedic canines in action here.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Deal With Canine Cabin Fever


By Ruthie Bently

Almost every dog owner has had to deal with “canine cabin fever” at one time or another. When dogs suffer from cabin fever, they begin acting out like naughty children. They may leap up and go racing through the house for no apparent reason. They will chew inappropriate things in the house, like the sofa or a rug instead of their sterilized natural bone or rawhide. The most laid-back dog may begin showing signs of aggression or bark at guests that come to the house. They may even begin marking territory or eliminating in the house. This is normal behavior for a dog suffering from canine cabin fever.

Dogs can get cabin fever in any season, not just wintertime. My friend Wendy had to entertain three very energetic dogs during the recent rain storms in California. Here in Minnesota the snow is still so deep that Skye and I are not able to go for our regular walks or even play in her dog yard. There are several ways to help release all that pent up energy. If your house has a flight of stairs you can play fetch with your dog using the stairs. Take their favorite ball or chase toy and toss it down the stairs while you stand at the top. Have them bring it back to you and toss it for them about ten times or until they begin to get tired. If your house doesn’t have stairs you can toss the ball down the length of a long hallway or room.

You can also play hide and seek with a toy you can put treats into. Fill the cavity of the toy, and put your dog on a sit-stay in their crate or another room while you hide the toy. Then release them from their command and let them go find the toy. Doing this several times will help tire them out, and a tired dog is usually a contented dog. There are also many interactive toys that will test your dog’s brain power and make them think while letting them have fun.

If your house is not large enough, check with your local park district or dog trainers in the area to see if there is an indoor area you can take your dog to for exercise. Some trainers will even let you rent time at their training facility to exercise your dog. Take your dog for an extended walk around your local pet shop if they are allowed in the store. Consider taking an advanced obedience training course or agility class with your dog.

You might want to look into the Canine Good Citizenship class, which is the beginning leg for therapy dogs. After finishing a therapy dog course you can take your dog to visit schools, nursing homes and senior citizen centers. Besides getting some exercise and bonding with you, they will be working their brain as well as their body. If you have a treadmill, consider letting your dog use it to get some extra exercise. By setting it on a lower speed, your dog can get much needed exercise and you won’t have them bouncing off the walls or behaving inappropriately.

Another way to combat canine cabin fever is to get a dog training book and teach them some new tricks. Teach your dog to bring in the mail or the paper too. If the snow is not deep where you are and you’re able to get into your yard, consider a brightly colored flying disk or toy for your dog to fetch; this will make it easier for both of you to see. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of canine cabin fever, you and your dog can have a more peaceful time indoors and a more joyful relationship.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Teach Your Cat to Perform Tricks


By Julia Williams

In yesterday’s post I explained that, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to train your cat to do tricks. Yes, you really can teach your cat to sit, shake, give you a “high five,” and fetch on command. You can even train your cat to use a regular bathroom toilet, although I’m not sure this qualifies as a “trick.”

I’m not saying it won’t take a lot of patience and determination to train your cat – it definitely will, and anyone who’s familiar with the independent nature of cats knows why. Then again, if it was too easy the thrill of victory wouldn’t be half as sweet! But let’s move on to the “how.”

One of the keys to success in training a cat to perform tricks is understanding what motivates them. Cats typically don’t possess a strong desire to please, unless there is something in it for them. For most felines, a food reward is highly motivating, so stock up on cat treats if you want to try teaching your cat to do tricks.

For the greatest chance of success, use the cat treats they find most enticing. My normally docile housecats turn into ferocious jungle beasts when given a piece of cooked chicken or turkey, but any cat treat your kitty loves will work. If you let them “free feed” dry food, consider switching to two feedings a day and remove the 24-hour kibble buffet. Then, you can try training your cat to do tricks before their scheduled meal time, which makes the food reward even more motivational.

Another important aspect of the trick training is that you have to coax the cat to do what you want it to do, such as “sit” or “shake.” When they do, say the command loudly and clearly, and immediately give them their food reward. You can also praise them lavishly and pet them, although this is not nearly as effective as the cat treat.

If you don’t succeed in training your cat to do tricks after a few days (and it’s almost a given that you won’t), don’t get discouraged. Remember the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The same applies to teaching a cat to do tricks. Simply keep trying. Trust me, it can be done.

How to teach your cat to sit

Step One: call your cat over to you, luring them with the treats if needed.
Step Two: when your cat approaches and stands before you, say “Sit.”
Step Three: put light pressure on their rump to naturally induce the sit position.
Step Four: when the cat sits, give them the treat immediately.
Step Five: repeat steps one through four as often as necessary to get your cat to sit on command.

After you’ve mastered the “sit” command, you can move on to the next trick.

How to teach your cat to shake

Step One: get your cat to sit, and reward them with a treat
Step Two: put your hand behind their right front leg and touch their paw.
Step Three: say “Shake.” A cat will often lift its foot when you touch it. If they do, take their paw in your hand and give it a gentle shake.
Step Four: Immediately give them a treat and a pet.
Step Five: repeat as needed.

The process of training your cat to use a toilet is a bit more complicated. Difficult but not impossible, as evidenced by the photo of Panther above, photographed by Robert Ward. According to Robert, Panther has been using the toilet to do his business since he was six months old. If you’d like to train your cat to use the toilet, you might want to get a copy of Trisha Yeager Menke’s humorous book, Potty Talk by Toast, which is available on Amazon.com.

I hope you find these tips for training your cat useful. Let me know if you succeed!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.