There has always been great interest in whether or not you can train cats. Since angora cats are normally solitary independent creatures many people have disagreed that it can be done. What many people do not realize is that any creature can be trained. What is fun about training different types of animals is the diversity of personalities, breed characteristics, or species peculiarities.
To find a good behaviorist or trainer takes work. Someone who says they have been working with a species of animal for twenty years is not always what they appear. Surely you have met someone who has said that! Acknowledge the answer and then ask how many animals per year they see. You’d be surprised at how many “experts” are people who have owned a particular animal or only a handful in their lifetime. They are legends and experts in their own minds!
You should not be asking your friends or your Veterinary medical doctor for advice on behaviour problems. They usually mislead you without meaning too. Some Veterinarians will have a specialty in behavior but this is a minority. Most professionals deal with other specialists and will be happy to give you a quality referral to a specialist if you need one.
Remember not to take veterinary medical advice from someone who is not qualified in that field either! A good trainer or behaviorist will consider veterinary medical problems as a probable cause for behavioral problems but they will not dispense that kind of advice. Ask the right source for the right information and save yourself time, money, and avoid further trauma! Also, use caution with anyone who wants to put your animal on drugs if the behavior problem is not psychotic or genetic.
There are ten areas to consider when you are searching for help with behavior problems. This list is to assist you in your search and is only a few of the ones you may want to consider. When looking for someone to assist you to consider these things:
1. Will they take the individual animal into consideration?
2. Do they have a flexible approach?
3. Interview each other.
4. Titles do not always mean quality.
5. Can they communicate clearly?
6. Do they have both animal and people skills?
7. Will they teach you how?
8. Are the methods humane?
9. Have they been around a while in the profession?
10. Do you and your animal feel comfortable with the person?
WILL THEY TAKE THE INDIVIDUAL ANIMAL INTO CONSIDERATION?
You can train angora cats very easily. However, most people are more interested in knowing how to solve problems that they are having. Each animal is different just as each species is different. Training a Persian would be different to working with a Siamese. Each animal will have different ways of responding to a situation. Good trainers or consultants will realize this and take individual differences into consideration.
DO THEY HAVE A FLEXIBLE APPROACH?
Any person who sticks with a specific way of training should be considered inflexible. There are numerous ways to train animals, so as we evolve in our skills and understanding these ways should change. Using JUST food reward, punishment or negative reinforcement, are not answers in themselves. They are tools that can be used but are more often misused, especially by the inexperienced person.
INTERVIEW EACH OTHER
“Let the buyer beware” is the first tip any pet owner should take to heart. Watch how the “expert” you are considering works. If they give you a pat answer, chances are they really don’t know what is going on. If they ask you for lots of information and invite you to watch what they are doing that is a good sign. However, to only watch or talk to one or two will not give you the complete answers. Talk to former clients or get references.
TITLES DO NOT ALWAYS MEAN QUALITY
Certifications, awards, or titles are of little use to the pet owner who wants a good clear answer to solving a problem. If the person you are dealing with has a big ego and tells you all about it, chances are you may be spending a lot of money without enjoying it or even benefiting from it. Most certifications were made up by a specific group who use the title. Again, check results. Most good consultants or trainers will not feel they have to justify or protect their background. A rule of thumb is to look for is someone with both practical experience and professional education.
CAN THEY COMMUNICATE CLEARLY?
Find someone who can communicate effectively. Many people will try to impress you with terminology or big words. My personal opinion is that most pet owners want what works! Most owners will not care about the technical background or the proper terminology…. just solve the problem! If you want to impress your friends you can always ask for the terms. Otherwise, you have more than enough things to remember about how you are working with your pet and the techniques involved without complicating it with terms.
DO THEY HAVE BOTH ANIMAL & PEOPLE SKILLS?
People skills are another important consideration. In the past, people who selected animal training for a career were either not very good with people or preferred animals to people. You will need to find someone who can communicate with both you and your pet AND teach you how to properly do things with your animal.
WILL THEY TEACH YOU HOW?
Find someone who will teach you how to be successful. It is not wise to find someone who will do all the work for you since they will only be there a short time. It takes a very short time to change animal behavior unless the situation has been going on for a long time. To change human behavior patterns or responses, it takes at least thirty days. Unless you can be taught how to deal with things you may actually revert back to old habits and have the animals revert back with you!
ARE THE METHODS HUMANE?
Find someone who is humane. Harsh techniques do not have a place in teaching. Fear or aggression do not allow anyone to learn anything well. Trust, respect, and understanding are the best ways to approach any animal training.
HAVE THEY BEEN AROUND A WHILE IN THE PROFESSION?
Find someone who has been around a while. Sometimes you will need to have additional follow-up. There are lots of people who start up and then disappear within a short time. Good professionals will have been in business a while and will always follow up or assist you later if you are having trouble, sometimes without additional fees.
ARE YOU AND YOUR ANIMAL COMFORTABLE WITH THE PERSON?
If you and your animal do not feel comfortable with the person you are working with find someone else! You both should have fun and be at ease with any contractor you use. It is a very personal relationship and business interaction that often continues for a period of time so shop around for someone you like or who feels like the best person for you and your pet.