Prerequisites: How To Harness-Train Your Cat & How To Train Your Cat To Sit
While many things we train cats to do may be for our own amusement, training your cat to wait for you at the door can be life-saving. Many cats that have the yearn to adventure outdoors quickly learn that the quicker they zoom through the door, the more likely they are to have a dalliance in the yard. Many people will run to catch kitty and get them in the house as fast as they can, never giving kitty an alternative, safe option to touch the grass and explore. Kitty learns that they get to stay out longer if they run every time you come near! Solving this problem is a multi-part approach. You need to tell kitty there is an acceptable time for that outlet and you WILL bring them outside on your terms. In addition, you need to assert that they will sit and wait for you to signal that it is an acceptable time to walk out the door. Read and work on “How To Harness-Train Your Cat” in the Adventure tab and “How To Train Your Cat To Sit” in the Trick Training tab prior to proceeding. Never reward your cat with a walk when he is exhibiting unacceptable behavior! Always go for a walk when your cat’s head is in the right place.
It starts with a sit.
To stop your cat from bolting out the door, you must first teach them to sit before the door. For this exercise, you might need to take out your novel treats ( or alternate between novel and regular so it’s a surprise)! The treat needs to give sufficient motivation so that your cat will choose that over bolting out the door to freedom. Have Kitty sit just far enough from the closed door that you are can comfortably to get in and out. Now tell your kitty to “stay” in a firm voice, and take one step toward the door. Your cat is more likely to stay sitting if you continue to face him, so only turn your back when you’re certain he will stay. If he moves up from the sit, calmly have him sit again. Instead of taking a step away, try to shift your weight. Cats are very perceptive to body language, and may react to the most subtle movements. If kitty stays still, reward him with a treat and give him pets. Continue with this until you can step fully to the door. If kitty is not ready to go out after your first training session, give the release word “okay” and toss the treat into the other room for kitty to chase after. Consider practicing a few more (different tricks) to get your cat’s mind off the door.
Reach for the doorknob.
Continue in baby steps, rewarding frequently for each accomplishment and backtracking when mistakes are made. Don’t forget that all training takes time, and this will likely take multiple sections! Take a break before kitty loses interest so that you can end on a good note. If kitty is doing well, you may reach for the doorknob. Next, turn the knob. Practice all of this with and without a harness.
It’s time to open the door! Since kitty is a proven escape artist, you will want to start this part with a harness and leash on. Leave slack on the leash so that kitty feels no pressure from you. Open the door a crack and reward for good behavior. Keep opening the door wider each time, and you can progress to the last step when kitty has learned to wait for you!
Okay, let’s go!
When kitty is waiting patiently and the door is open, say “Okay!” to release him and “Let’s go!” with a gesture toward the door. With practice you’ll have a cat that can come out and enjoy the yard with you instead of a cat that makes you chase after him all night. Practice often so that kitty doesn’t forget! Stay safe and have happy adventures.
Our daughter has now trained one of our cats using this method and it has worked quite well. (To the extent that daughter forgot to tell him to “sit” before she went out the door for a walk with him. The cat just sat there anyway. I told her that the cat needs to work a training HER, now!)
Now she needs to work on our other cat… and herself, of course. 😆