How to Train Your Cat to Shake Hands

Medium
5-10 Days
Fun

Introduction

Everyone oohs and aahs when they see a cute little dog shaking hands. Cat parents out there are ready to show that their favorite felines have the skills to get it done, too! Training your cat to shake hands is the perfect task to teach when a little mental stimulation is in order. After all, a curious cat will welcome the attention, and yes, they love to perform, just like their canine counterparts do!

Defining Tasks

Teaching your cat to sit is a great way to start the ball rolling. Once your cat has that command under wraps, other training exercises will more easily fall into place. When your cat is sitting, they will be focusing on you and ready to learn. Take a look at the three methods outlined below and see which one suits your furry BFF. Make sure your cat is in the mood to train, keep sessions short, and end on a high note—with a reward, of course!

Getting Started

Does your cute cat have a favorite treat they cannot resist? Use that one when training. A treasured toy or two will come in handy for play, as will the opportunity for a playtime session afterward. Use happy verbal praise along with the material rewards, and keep the training positive always. If there is any negativity, your independent cat will say “never mind” to the whole thing!

The Dos and Don'ts Method

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Step
1
Be ready
Start the lesson in the right frame of mind. Don’t expect miracles on day one and if your cat is not in the mood, try again the next day.
Step
2
The right time
Train before mealtime. A hungry cat motivated for treats will be more cooperative and eager to learn. As you teach, feed your feline their favorite tidbit and save this special food for training. When your cat sees the treat, they’ll know it’s time to train!
Step
3
The right place
Select the best location for learning. Don’t train your cat beside the window where birds love to land on your prized rose bush. Do they have a cat perch? That may work. On the other end of the scale, some cats train best when pet and pet owner are both on the floor.
Step
4
The right setting
Keep it as alone time. If the family dog is bouncing around the room or another cat wants to see what is going on, it will only distract your four-legged student from the training. Wait until the dog is out on a walk or the other resident kitty is having a cat nap.
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The Hold the Paw Method

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Yummy treats
Have treats on hand within easy reach. Very small pieces of boiled chicken (no spices), tiny flecks of tuna, or yummy commercial treats will do.
Step
2
Time to sit
Tell your cat to sit. Having this training command down pat is the ideal start. If not, when you ask your kitty to sit, gently push their hind end to the floor while giving the verbal command, “sit”.
Step
3
Name the command
Once your cat is sitting, use the command you plan to instill for this trick. “Shake a paw” or “shake hands” will do. Always stick to the same verbal instruction, so your finicky feline does not get confused.
Step
4
Time to paw
As you give the command, put your hand (palm up) close to your cat’s paw. If your cat doesn’t place their paw on your hand, take the paw, hold it a few seconds, and give the yummy treat. Repeat this several times.
Step
5
Treats on hand
Soon, your cat will respond to the verbal command. Always make sure you have treats handy when in training mode. Eventually, you will be able to give the treat sporadically, and then not at all, if that is your choice. Always be ready with verbal praise, though!
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The Clicker Method

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1
Click it
Train your cat to associate treats with the clicker by using the clicker near them and instantly giving them a treat. This little bit of training should take place only 2 to 3 minutes a day because 5 minutes will seem way too long!
Step
2
Remind your cat
To begin the “shake hands” training session, click the clicker and give your cat a treat to remind them that the sound means time to train and time for a treat!
Step
3
A gentle approach
Take your cat’s paw (always use the same paw to keep the action clear). A gentle motion is the way to approach it, so they do not think you are grabbing them.
Step
4
Shake hands
With the other hand, click the clicker. Say “shake hands” right after you click. Then reward with the treat. Let go of the paw and give verbal praise and a loving pat.
Step
5
Keep it short
Repeat the training steps for less than 5 minutes. You can come back for another lesson later in the day. Keep the training short and fun.
Step
6
Shake, click, reward
Once your cat associates the “shake hands” with the reward, give the command and wait for their positive response. Once they give you their paw for a shake, click and give a tasty reward. As with the above method, you can eventually phase out the treats.
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Written by Darlene Stott

Published: 02/02/2021, edited: 02/02/2021

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