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 Post subject: Training
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:37 pm 
Bengal Kitten

Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 8:59 pm
Posts: 1
Hi there, new to the forum so hope I've got the right board. I have two bengals, they're fairly new in my life, and I would like to train them to walk on a harness.

My 6 month old, Wessex, is happy being handled. At the moment we're working on him letting me handle his paws for long periods of time, and not struggling while I put the harness on (it's a figure 8 jacket).

My lovely girl Scarlett is 5 years old, I adopted her in February from a family who couldn't meet her needs. She has always been an indoor cat, apart from having a run which we intend to build but due to unexpected circumstances can't quite afford it just yet, so I thought a happy medium might be to train her to walk on the leash, that way we all get some fresh air and outdoor play. The problem with Scarlett is she's moved homes a lot in her 5 years, and although her behaviour is impeccable, she hasn't had the handling we need to get a harness on her.

I'm looking for some advice as to how I go about getting a harness on her, and how long I persist with the training every day. At the moment we manage about 15-30 minutes every evening when she wakes up from nap time (she's calm then). I'd like to know if what I'm doing is right and should continue.

With Scarlett I am also clicker training her, and we spend training time with me picking up her paw (click, treat whenever she lets me touch it, which is most times now.) I think she's slowly letting me hold it for longer, but we're moving at glacial pace. Is this normal?

She used to hate being picked up, but now we can pick up and walk for a few seconds before she struggles (and when she struggles, she no longer claws me). Click, treat and lots of fussy praise whenever she allows picking up, or even just the touching of her undercarriage.

I know consistency is key, but I don't manage to get the training time in 7 days a week, more like 5, and sometimes in the morning. I'm very much doing it alone, there's no hope for my partner helping to say hold Scarlett while I put the harness on. Besides which, ideally what I'd like is to train her to hold still and accept my putting this strange item on her.

Is there anything I am missing, should be doing, that will help the process be 1. More fun/tolerable for the cats, 2. Make the training more successful, and 3. Perhaps pick up the training pace? (I pop training in basically whenever my being home without family commitments coincides with the bengals being calm, which can be several times a day or once a day. Some days they're just like toddlers who downed a bag of skittles!)

 Post subject: Re: Training
PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:21 pm 
Asian Leopard Cat

Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 2:21 pm
Posts: 8992
Welcome to our forum! Harness training -- it can take a while. First of all, a Figure 8 harness is NOT what you want to be using. It has one clasp at the neck and can cause a strain on that area if the cat or you pull on the leash. A figure H harness or a walking jacket is preferred. Most cats do not like something new and strange around them. The key is to put the harness on and see how the cat reacts. One of three things happens:

1. The cat lays down on the floor and acts paralyzed. See if you can get the cat to stand up with treats or a toy. If not, then allow the cat to lay there for a few minutes. If the cat still won't get up, remove the harness and try again later. Once the cat realizes it can walk while wearing the harness, it's usually good.

2. The cat fights the harness and tries to get it off. Again, try to distract with a treat or toy. If that doesn't work, remove the harness and try to put it on again later. Repeat and repeat as necessary.

3. The cat walks around like nothing is wrong. That was the case with my cat. And we were out the door within 2 minutes.

The key is that your cats MUST be completely comfortable wearing the harnesses inside the house before you EVER take the cats outside on a leash! This can take days, weeks or may not ever happen. Whatever you do, do not force the issue. Give the leash thing a try several times. Then forget about it and maybe try again in another month or two.

Yes, many bengal owners walks their cats. Mine gets two walks a day. Know that in the beginning, the cat may be scared out in the big open world. Many cats run right back into the house. All you can do is keep trying. The more confident your cat becomes outside, the farther the cat will want to investigate. Walking a cat is NOT like walking a dog. Your cats will stop and smell everything.

I would not attempt to walk two cats by myself. They both go off in different directions, get tanged in shrubs, or wrap themselves around your legs. It's best to have one human for each cat. I also carry a large beach towel with me so that I can spread it out on the ground if Raiden decides he just wants to stop and lay down. Plus, it is there if I need to snap it at another approaching cat or dog.

Another option is a pet stroller! Yes, they make those, too! Some people use them for their small dogs and cats. It gets the kitties out in the fresh air and you can actually get some exercise.

The last option is to purchase a portable cat enclosure that you can set out in the yard and your cats can be safe. Of course, building a large enclosure takes time and money and is permanent. There are a ton of options out there for your kitties to enjoy the outdoors -- and be supervised by your at all times.

I'm not a fan of clicker training, but many bengal owners do it and have much success with their cats. Mine would be a total failure!!! LOL.

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