Tonawanda News


January 14, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Motivate your pets to succeed

Tonawanda News — It is cold and snowy and you don’t want to get out of bed. It’s a lack of motivation that is keeping you underneath those warm, comfortable blankets. 

Perhaps thinking about a mouthwatering breakfast or a refreshing shower might just be the thing to get you out of bed. Motivation is the reason for doing something. It is the enthusiasm and commitment that makes an organism want to do an activity. And motivation is the drive that gets our pets to do a behavior.

In the pet world behaviors on cue usually occur because of the presence of treats. In the zoo world behaviors occur for the same reason. However there are many more overweight pets than there are zoo animals. Changing motivation does not have to mean changing the weight of the animal or the amount of food it receives. 

Environment plays a large role in pet training. There are a limitless amount of environmental distractions that could take place. The background in which our pets respond to us is constantly changing, even for indoor-only pets. Some pets are focused on their trainer’s every move and others pick up on all the sudden intricacies of their world. 

Soft exposures to sounds, sights and smells will help “bomb proof” your pet, to be able to respond appropriately in all sorts of situations. Training your pet with a few distractions at a time will help your pet focus later on in life. A pet that has been exposed to many people and many novel situations will be better to adapt to more drastic scenarios later on.

Animals that are bored may also seem to lack motivation. If the pet only knows a couple of behaviors and is constantly being asked to perform them, the pet might not feel that it is worth it. This may seem like the animal is missing motivation. If you have run out of ideas, an easy solution is to go in the opposite direction. Does your pet wave or shake paws? Train your pet to discriminate which paw you are asking for. If the pet always presents the right paw, start training the left paw, with a different cue. If your pet turns clockwise, train counterclockwise.

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