As a kid my family had indoor/outdoors cats. Every cat we had over the years
scratched the door trim when they wanted to go outside. This behavior was
not appreciated, particularly by my parents. Consequently, the ‘going
out routine’ ended up being a cat scratching the door, someone yelling ‘No!
Stop!’, the door opening and the cat going out. The cats learned that
nothing grabbed attention and got the door opened quite as fast as scratching.
Similarly, one cat named Tyrone found an effective way of being let in the
house. Tyrone would climb up the screen door Spider-Man style, making it
nearly impossible for anyone in the living room or kitchen to ignore him.
Again he garnered the ‘No! Down!’ reprimand followed by an open
In this case the cats trained the people instead of the people training
the cats. A basic in pet training is not to reward bad behavior.
This can consist of giving attention to a badly behaving puppy, or giving
a treat when a pet is begging. Being consistent is vital. Don’t make
things complicated. Keep training simple. If you find yourself explaining
yourself or rationalizing with your puppy then training is too complicated.
Particularly when teaching basic good behavior such as don’t scratch
the couch, climb the curtains, or chew the sneakers, make the consequences
clear. For cats a squirt from a toy water gun will often deter them from bad
behavior. For dogs reprimand them and then leave them be, don’t give them
extra attention as they may see it as a reward. Finally, don’t punish
an animal after the fact. If you find a your rug chewed up a your puppy sleeping
in the corner, he’s not going understand what you’re yelling
about and could think you’re mad at him for sleeping in the corner.
Reprimands are only effective if a pet is caught in the act, and being stern is far more effective than being angry.