Join Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder, and Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer, as they talk about training games we can all easily do with our cats and dogs (and any other pet). Plus, she has her adorable cats and dogs as her training models.
This video is part of the Pet Voices LIVE series. CLICK HERE to see the full schedule of videos.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:01
Welcome to Pet Voices LIVE. I am Chloe DiVita, your host and Co-Founder of All Pet Voices, and I’m really excited because we’re talking about easy training games for your pets, all your pets. If you notice, you can see a dog, two dogs, and a cat and some of this, I’m sure Amber can talk to it, will even be relevant for rats and rabbits. She’s trained so many types of animals, so I’m really excited to have you with us today, Amber. So Amber Aquart.
She’s a certified animal trainer and a pet lifestyle expert, and she focuses her content and helping pet parents develop a better relationship with their best friends which of course, at All Pet Voices we love. Amber, thank you so much for coming here and bringing your pets with you. I would love to hear… I think when we see people who are pet trainers, dog trainers, animal trainers, cat trainers, it’s always this question of how did you get here? What drove you? Because this is a passion. This is the kind of thing you don’t go, “I want to be a zillionaire and train pets.” You’re passion driven. So when did it start for you? And how did you end up where you are?
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 1:18
Oh my goodness. Honestly, it started when I could crawl. Every family member ever remembers me by having me walking around on the floor, crawling on the floor, barking and crawling. I always pretended to be an animal before I could even talk or walk. Any family member you talk to will tell you that from the get go, I was obsessed with animals. And growing up, I thought that the only thing I could do, which I think many of us think, I thought the only thing I could do with animals was be a veterinarian. So I was kind of upset about that because I’m not really into blood and I respect veterinarians, but that is not where my passion is. I get really grossed out by all that stuff. I can’t even talk about it. I’ll faint.
And I, as a kid, I actually volunteered as many places as I could. So I volunteered with exotic animals at a rehabilitation center. I volunteered with horses. I did absolutely everything I could. And then when I was old enough to start working, I actually started working with exotic animals as a handler and a trainer. So we did exotic animal shows. We’d go to schools, birthday parties, things like that, and teach people about different types of animals. So that’s really how I started working with animals professionally.
And I was actually obsessed with working with behavior and learning about how to connect with the animal because I love teaching people about animals, but I also wanted to be able to connect with the animal on another level rather than knowing facts about the animal. So I went from educating people about wild animals to wanting to get to know the animals that we live with a little bit more. And that’s kind of when I took off into dog training and now cat training. But it’s just been a really long journey. And it started off with wanting to teach people more about animals but also wanting to learn more about them myself and show people that they could have awesome relationships with this creature we don’t even speak the same language as. So it’s a long story, but that’s kind of how it started.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:25
That’s awesome. And I mean, I know if you’re going around to schools, you’re not like Tiger King. You’re not bringing tigers.
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 3:31
No, not at all. That’s a whole other story. I have seen some of those places, but we won’t get into that.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:39
Yeah, we won’t get into that. I prefer not to talk about it anyways.
One of the things I think is wonderful about what you do is that you have easy ways to start with training that promotes… like you were talking about the communication piece and the understanding piece, which helps us train better and make more progress. So, specifically the… What’s your cat’s name?
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 4:03
This is Finnegan. You can call him Finn for short. My little Finn.
HOW TO START TRAINING
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 4:07
I like Finnegan.
What was your first step with him? When was it like, “Okay, I’m gonna train him.” And what did you do to make that first connection to get his attention like, “We’re gonna do some work together.”
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 4:24
So I think before we even started, what I did before starting training… I got him knowing I was going to train him from the get go. But not training like to train him how to sit down, stay, all that. He does know those things, but training for me was more about us being able to communicate with each other. So me teaching him his name, teaching him to want to work with me.
The first step of that was utilizing something that he wants, which as you can see, I’ve got some of that in here. So when it comes to training, you want to make sure you motivate the animal. And if your cat or dog or bird or whatever has access to things around them all the time, they can get bored of them and not really want to work with them, work for them. So utilizing food, utilizing toys, even attention, and using that to engage with your pet a little bit more is a great start before you start actually working with them.
And my first step was really just teaching him to eat out of my hand and to come to me for all of his resources. So if he wants to play, come to me. If he wants to eat, come to me, and if he wants to cuddle, you name it, I wanted to be the reason why he got everything positive in his life. And that was really the first step of developing a really strong relationship with him.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:40
I love that. And look at them. You can tell that they are coming to you for everything.
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 5:47
I’ve got an audience as you can see.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:50
So everyone didn’t see this, but before we went live, Finnegan was just sitting on this stool and she wanted to get him in the camera view. So she just picked up the stool and moved it. And he just stayed on it and sat there. Is that a trick you trained him to do?
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 6:04
Yeah, so actually I’m glad you mentioned it. The stool is right here. I actually teach my cats to do station training. And it’s something that we cover in my Cat Training 101 course that I just launched a few days ago. I’m really excited about that.
Station training is something that I teach them and he’s going to go to it right now. Station training is something I teach them to gravitate towards without me having to say anything. This is a great way to encourage your cat to do a good behavior. Same thing with a dog. He’s currently on his station right now too.
When I first taught him this to keep them off the counters and to keep them from bolting out the door, so he had a place to go to where he wasn’t going to get into trouble. So I don’t know about anyone watching, but I know that my cats every single time I’d be preparing the dogs’ food, my food, their food, he would be jumping on the counter and trying to get into everything. And so rather than just getting mad and frustrated with him, I wanted to communicate with him a better way to station himself somewhere where he knows if he goes there great things happen, rather than punish him for doing something that cats naturally do. Cats naturally like to get up on things like counters. If you provide a place where they’re supposed to go, and they get rewarded for going, they’ll actually learn to go here instead of all the naughty places like the counter or the stove.
And he’s just waiting there.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 7:32
Finnegan has learned well.
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 7:33
He’s a smart boy. He absolutely loves to work. And it’s so funny because I know when I first started posting about training my cats, I even got some comments of “Oh, just let your cat be a cat. Let him do whatever he wants to do.” But as you guys can see, he’s very happily doing these things without me even telling him to do it. He just wants to do it. He loves to. And while we’re talking, he’s giving me high fives, he’s lying down, he’s doing sit, because these are all fun things that he learned to do. And it’s a great way that we’ve kind of built that relationship together.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 8:06
Love it. That’s fabulous. So give us some easy things that we could do at home with our cat or a dog. I know that these are things that are more about the method, which could be applied to any pet. But you’ve got some wonderful models right now to work with.
HOW TO TEACH “TOUCH”
Amber Aquart, Certified Animal Trainer – 8:28
I do, I do. Yeah. So any pet can be trained, and if anyone’s watching that has a bird or a ferret or a rabbit. This isn’t something that’s just for dogs. It’s something that’s just for cats. That’s something I really wanted to get across. Training is something that you can do with your pet. I have trained skunks. I’ve trained Wallabies. I’ve trained birds. I’ve trained pretty much everything. I haven’t trained a fish, but I have friends who have trained fish as well. So no animal is off limits. But the first thing, again, like we mentioned before, is starting with something to motivate your pet with. And food is a great way to do that.
And one of the things I like to teach my pets initially when I’m first training them is how to come over to me and touch my hand, whether that be just a nose touch or if it’s a paw touch, whichever thing the animal prefers. And this is a great way to get them to gravitate towards you. So a really simple way you can do that is by having food, which you guys hopefully can see I’ve got little kibble in my hand. That’s what I’m using for training. And what I’m going to do is show the animal the food. I’ll get Tucker up, because he’s the easiest to demo with. And I’m just going to show him the food and then encourage him to come touch my hand. Yes! As soon as he touches my hand, I go ahead and reward him.
As with anything you’re teaching your dog or your cat or your bird, we want to make sure we repeat it over and over again until they understand what it is you want them to do. Now, when you’re training or working with your animal, you want to keep things really short and simple. You don’t want to spend 20 minutes at a time. And that’s something about training that is so simple that people don’t realize is that it takes five minutes, five minutes a few times a day, five minutes once a day. And you’ll realize really quickly that your animal will catch on to things faster if you break things down, make it short and simple, and reward them for every single right decision that they make.
If he didn’t actually touch my hand, all I would do is take my hand away, and then try it again. And I can always go back a step. I can go back a step with the food in my hand over here. He doesn’t do it. We’ll try it again. Yes, good job! And this is something that I call touch. So I’ll teach them to touch. Good! And then Finnegan knows touch too. And this is a great way just to get them to come over to you and to first start engaging with you.
If your pet is kind of grabbing about your hands. You can also teach them to touch a target stick which is this little stick with a ball on the end. You can take any object like your phone and teach them to touch the object if you don’t want them touching your hands, but that’s usually one of the first things I train any animal to do. And it’s a great way to get them to come to you or to gravitate. If you want them to go up on a place, go into their kennel. Wherever you want them to go, a touch can get them to go there for you.
Find out more tips on training ALL pets by watching the full video above!
For more information on animal training and Amber Aquart:
Website – AmberAquart.com
Facebook – Amber Aquart
Instagram – @amberaquart
YouTube- Amber Aquart
Cat Training 101 (Save $15 with promo code ELEVATE) – https://www.pawsitivedevelopment.com/bookings-checkout/cat-training-101