The Conditional Cat: Cat Herding 101
Enhance your relationship with your cat, increase the ‘trust account’ and shape new behaviors to replace "unwanted"!
Cats have long mystified and mesmerized humanity, inspiring poets and artists alike, while invading Internet memes and finding a place in the hearts and homes amongst all countries. Cats have often been considered aloof and unpredictable, walking their own path and daring to, “look at a king.“ But like all other organisms, felines are also subject to the laws of behavior science and as such, yes, even cats can be, ‘trained,‘ or ‘conditioned,’ in much the same way that they train and condition us to get up out of bed before our alarms blare by kneading our bellies, licking our noses and maybe even nibbling our fingers. This is why the Cat Herding 101 course was created!
Conditioning is always happening and cats like every other organism are not immune to it. There is no secret code word to begin exploring the magically fascinating world of cat training, aka, ‘cat herding.’ All it takes is one’s interest, plus a desire and effort to explore and learn…in a phrase, with the curiosity of a cat!
But why would we wish to train a cat? Because cat training is an amazing for:
- enhance your relationship with your cat and increase the ‘trust account’, allowing the learner increased choice and control to access functional reinforcement
- it allows an outlet for enrichment including mental and physical stimulation for both the trainer and learner alike
- helps you to minimize or more adequately construct and shape new behaviors to replace ‘unwanted’, or aversive behavioral patterns
- increase your overall mechanical and conceptual skill regarding applied behavioral technologies through working with your cat
J.R. Henderson & his clowder (Condie, Durga & Poe) invite you on an incredible voyage of behavioral discovery!
Explore many aspects of behavioral techniques that can be applied to all aspects of cat herding 101 to set both you and your cat up for success. As Dr. Susan Friedman reminds us, “behavior is a study of one,” and keeping this in mind with a species evolutionary-based approach, J. R. & his clowder will guide you on a journey of behavioral discovery regarding cat herding. You will explore all aspects regarding cat herding, from building upon foundational principles and behaviors to creating behavioral momentum and bringing an element of ‘loopiness,’ to your training sessions. You will also explore more intermediate training principles and behaviors such as basic cooperative care and maybe even a pattern game or two thrown into the mix. J.R. & his clowder will cover a tad of everything to get any and everyone inspired and set up for success regarding cat herding 101.
Cat Herding 101 will cover:
- foundational principles, including equipment needed to begin cat herding, the antecedents of training setup and arrangement, preference testing, reviewing the concepts of pairing the marker/bridge (respondent conditioning), constructing behavior via capturing, luring and shaping, along with principles of errorless and graded training approaches
- you will be able to demonstrate foundational behaviors including, ‘targeting’ and ‘stationing’ which many of our other behaviors and arrangements will be predicated upon
- building behavioral momentum through the concepts of ‘training in loops,’ reinforcer delivery, a review on stimulus control and an overview on prompts, cues and prompt fading
- you will be able to demonstrate intermediate level behavioral responses including: ‘sit,’ ‘down,’ ‘high five,’ and jump ‘up’
- the basics of cooperative care will be covered including beginning tactile work and various objects being contacted to the body including stethoscopes, capped needles or similar substitutes and other objects of veterinary care, along with reviewing carrier training and also an overview of keeping medium and long-haired cats’ coats brushed which can at times be a challenge of endurance and wriggling for both cats and guardians alike
- discussing and demonstrating the use of pattern games with cats
- a detailed discussion and exploration of continued building of behavioral momentum over duration, distance and distraction.
Lesson 1: Foundational principles
Lesson 2: Foundational behaviors
Lesson 3: Building behavioral momentum
Lesson 4: Intermediate feline behaviors
Lesson 5: Basic cooperative care concepts
Lesson 6: Pattern games and further inspirations in behavioral construction
J.R. & his clowder look forward to continuing the cat chat and celebrating life in the meow with you in Cat Herding 101!