How to train humans

Looking cute with my head on my paws

Looking cute with my head on my paws

Lately I’ve had quite a few animal friends–anipals as we call each other–comment on how well-trained my humans are. In fact, my references to my female human as my owner seem almost ludicrous considering that the asymmetrical aspects of our relationship are all in my favor. If one of us owns the other, clearly I own her.

After much consideration, I have decided to share some of my human-training tips with all pets in the spirit of making the world a better place. Please read this blog completely, take notes and study the potential application of these methods to your humans before attempting to apply them. Use caution: we don’t want any accidents.

Rule 1: Be cute
This is almost too trivial to mention but it is the foundation of all human training. Your power over humans is based on your inherent cuteness and humans’ obvious ugliness.

Just because being cute is easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice. Find a full-length mirror or other reflective surface. Lie down in front of it and rest your head on your paws. Practice looking up in a wistful way. Don’t forget your ears! If you have floppy ears like some rabbits, try different positions. Do the ears look best lying flat along your back or draped over your eyes? For cats, try holding a toy such as a catnip mouse in your paws. Dogs should have a stick or a Frisbee, that serves the double purpose of making you look cute and your owner feel guilty.

It doesn't hurt to practice your tricks in front of a mirror too. It's hard to improve on how cute I am here.

It doesn't hurt to practice your tricks in front of a mirror too. It's hard to improve on how cute I am here.

Rule 2: Don’t do anything without a treat
Here’s where most dogs go wrong, cats generally get this right. Don’t chase that ball, shake that hand, or roll over if there is no obvious reward waiting for you when you’re done. After you do your “trick,” sit down and wait as long as it takes to get the treat.

This rule is critical! Breaking this rule even once leads your humans to believe that they are in control. This must not happen. The first few times may take a while but eventually your human’s response time will shorten and the treat will be available immediately upon completion of the requested task.

Does it look like I am doing a trick without a treat here?

Does it look like I am doing a trick without a treat here?

If you have broken this rule in the past, a great deal of patience and repetition will be required before you can retrain your human to the correct behavior. As you’re waiting, remind yourself how you got into this mess and don’t give in again.

Sheldon was just off-camera with the treat.

Sheldon was just off-camera with the treat.

Rule 3: Don’t forget the praise
It is important that you reward your human’s good behavior with appropriate praise. After I get a tasty treat, I always remember to wiggle my ears. My humans love this, but yours may be different. Pay attention to your humans, what small thing can you do to make them happy? Then do that promptly after they’ve behaved correctly. Remember, delayed praise does not work with them, the more quickly you respond, the better.

In this photo I reward my owner by sitting on her lap.

In this photo I reward my owner by sitting on her lap.

Rule 4: Eeep so they can’t sleep
This rule firmly establishes you as the dominant member of the pet-human partnership. Don’t let your humans think they have control over when you deserve a treat. The best way to prove that you are in control is to wake your humans in the middle of the night and demand a treat. This will prove, even to their self-centric minds, that you are in control.

I implement this rule by jumping into my humans’ bed and eeping loudly in their ears. If this doesn’t work, I tap them on the face with my paw. Dogs may bark but not too loudly. If there are small children or babies in the household, you don’t want to wake them or your humans will have to deal with that rather than giving you your treat.

This is another rule that is difficult for cats. No biting! Kneading is okay as long as it is not too painful. The goal here is to get a treat, not to be locked out of the bedroom. It is best if you can just purr very, very loudly. Humans find it almost impossible to get mad at you for that. If all else fails, sit on your human’s face.

That should be enough to get you going. You can leave questions or additional tips in the comments section.

And remember, only positive feedback works with humans so don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

10 comments to How to train humans

  • Coral

    It’s a good thing “keep your eyes open” wasn’t a rule. He’s either falling asleep or dying in every one of these pictures.

  • Thank you for the tips, Caplin!

    I have a tip to share! When your human is finishing her clean up work in the kitchen after dinner, drop your ball in front of her and look really cute. That will train her to play with you after she finishes her clean up work. I have my human trained quite well for this trick.

  • oooooh, umm I’d never heard of u before. U look very nice tho and beary cute:):) U really pretty big. I’m gonna hav 2 read and learn more about u. Ur mama looks like she beary nice person:) U lucky 2 hav her as a mama:)

  • Amazing! I am beyond jealous. I want one!

  • Appaws for another great blog post. We wish that our mom would leave us out of the cage at night so we could crawl into her bed and wake her up. But, we do know how to eep and sometimes do that if the need arises. She loves it when we wake her up early in the morning. We can tell because she hollers our names loudly. Then she gets up and tends to our needs.

    We especially love that pic of you in front of the mirror. We must get a mirror so we can practice our cuteness.

  • AbsoluteRemix

    I think my animals have been reading your blogs. My sugar gliders bark at night, my kitties purr loudly WHILE sitting on my face, and my dog…well maybe she hasn’t read your blog yet. =)

  • I knew before I opened your web page that Rule Number One was “Be cute.” It works every time!

  • Coral:

    He’s just mellow.

  • Carrot

    I luv treats. yum!

  • I don’t get these computers

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