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How to make your pet smarter

We all love our pets, and here are some tips to train your furry friend

Your pet is more intelligent than you think. Cats are naturally clever and dogs have the ability to learn up to 200 words, the mental equivalent of a three-year-old child. The trouble is, our furry friends don't always do what we want. But it is possible to brain train your buddy to make them better behaved at home...

How smart is your dog?



Increase your pet's vocabulary

Just as you would do with a child, speak to your dog or cat using proper sentences. Chat to them like you would a friend and don't be afraid to teach them new words. By giving your dog consistent verbal signals, like saying 'upstairs' when you're going upstairs, he'll eventually come to understand what that means. Believe it or not, cats can be taught new behaviour using the same method.

Teach your pets new tricks

Stimulate their senses

Animals need stimulation to thrive and it doesn't take much to provide this. You can keep a cat happy for hours with little more than a toy attached to a piece of string. Cats are athletic and need physical and mental stimulation, and if dogs are left alone all day they can suffer too. Dog owners should spend the first 30 minutes when they get home from work playing with their pet.

Craft: Make a doggie chew toy

LabradorPositive reinforcement

Punishment should be avoided as it often makes a problem worse. Instead, reward a pet's good behaviour so your furry friend can see more value in behaving than misbehaving. For example, if your dog is aggressive, stand still and allow the dog to calm down. When it is calm, try a simple command like 'sit' and when he does, reward him with a treat.

Treats for your pet

The more your pet practises an annoying behaviour, the more likely it is that he'll do it again. Try taking the problem away from your pet or your pet away from the problem. For instance, if your dog barks continually at the front fence, try keeping him in the backyard instead.

Phone fun

Make the most of technology by using your mobile phone to train your pet. The Dog Training Kit application for smartphones allows you to shape a dog's behaviour in small steps using clicker, bell and whistle training. Meanwhile, for cat-lovers, the Cat Training application can help you get rid of unwanted behaviour and also assists when it comes to litter box training, clipping your cat's nails, keeping it off the dining table, stopping it from scratching the furniture and even teaching it to come when you call.

Quiz: What kind of dog are you?

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