Bengals are one of the most intelligent cat breeds out there. They’re often compared to dogs because of their willingness to learn tricks and affinity for pleasing their humans. Bengals can learn various tricks and may learn faster than any other cat breed. Bengals are also very energetic and mischievous, so training them is a great way to redirect potentially naughty behaviors.
If you’re curious about how to train your Bengal, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find our seven tips and tricks for getting your Bengal interested in training.
The 7 Tips & Tricks to Train Your Bengal Cat
1. Get the Right Supplies
Before you can begin training your Bengal, you need to invest in the right supplies to kickstart your training regimen.
Cats can be very treat-motivated, so having the right treats can make or break your Bengal’s training session. You may find that your cat is more willing to do what it’s asked if it gets a tasty snack afterward. Check out our guide on the best treats for picky cats for some inspiration.
A clicker is another great-to-have supply for kitty training. While they are not entirely necessary, they can make the process a little easier. We like the Clik-R from PetsSafe as it has a finger strap so you can hold the device in one hand and also comes with a training guide for more advice on getting started.
Target sticks are a great tool to use alongside your clicker. A target stick is a long, usually telescoping stick with a small ball on the end. Trainers use target sticks to move their pets through space without having to physically touch them. It works as a visual target to get your Bengal moving from one place to another. You can use a target stick to guide your cat into its backpack or carrier and to aid with agility training.
2. Never Punish
If there’s one sure-fire way to make your Bengal hate its training sessions it is punishment. Just like humans, cats do better when rewarded for positive behavior than punished for bad behavior.
Not only do punishments cause stress for your Bengal, but they can also wreak havoc on your relationship. You might even notice your kitty hiding from you, refusing to eat, or shedding more than usual.
Instead, give your Bengal words of praise and plenty of treats when they do a job well done. Be sure to reward them with their treat or praise immediately after they do an action or command correctly. The keyword here is immediately. If you wait too long between the action being complete and the reward being offered, your cat won’t be able to connect the two and won’t understand that good behavior is what resulted in the treat.
3. Get Their Attention
Bengals are generally very hyperactive, and getting their attention can be difficult. Cats are very motivated by their instincts and desires, so food is a great way to get your Bengal to pay attention to you. Call it by its name and offer a treat to grab its attention.
4. Use the Right Food
It’s important to use the right treats as motivation for your Bengal’s training session. Giving them a low-quality treat that’s high in calories can cause nutrition problems due to unhealthy ingredients like artificial preservatives and flavorings.
Try to find a healthy high-protein treat and none of those empty calories that won’t be of any use to your Bengal. Look for options that list protein as the first ingredient.
5. Use Clicker Training
Clicker training is a great place to start and acts as a fantastic foundation for future training. Once your Bengal knows how a clicker works, training will be much easier.
When you first begin using a clicker, your goal should be to condition your cat to associate the clicker with a food reward. Start by sitting with your Bengal in a quiet space and clicking the clicker. After each sound, give your pet a treat. Repeat this around ten times, and after a few sessions, your kitty will begin associating the clicker noise with a tasty treat.
Once your kitty understands that it will get a treat with each click, you know it’s ready to move on to some basic training.
Timing is essential when you clicker train your pet. The instant your Bengal performs the behavior you’re trying to teach him, click and then offer a treat. The goal is to have your pet make the connection that wanted behavior equals treat.
6. Move Onto Target Stick Training
Once your Bengal has mastered clicker training, you can begin using your target stick.
Before your target stick sessions, put a piece of smelly food, such as tuna or your cat’s favorite wet food, on the ball at the end of the stick. Once your kitty gets a sniff of food on the stick, click your clicker. This noise will tell your Bengal that it can eat its treat. Repeat this several times.
Now, move your target stick further away from your cat so that it has to get up and walk to it. Click the clicker and let it have its treat.
Once your kitty has learned that there’s a treat at the end of the stick, you won’t need to continue putting the treat there. Your Bengal will be able to associate following the stick with getting a treat. Every time you move the stick and your cat follows it, use your clicker and offer a treat.
To start testing your Bengal, maneuver the stick over furniture so they have to jump to get to it. Be sure to reward them with a click and treat when they touch the stick.
7. Have Patience
Cats, especially Bengals, do best with short training sessions. They have short attention spans, so let them guide the duration of every training session. Stop when they lose interest and only teach them one thing at a time.
What Tricks Can I Teach My Bengal?
There is no limit to what tricks you’ll be able to train your Bengal to perform. Here are some of the basic commands you can begin with:
Once your kitty has these commands down, you can move to more complicated tricks such as:
Are Bengals Easy to Train?
If you have owned a Bengal for some time, you already know that this breed is exceptionally clever and intelligent. Most Bengal owners will find training their cats to be rather easy.
Of course, that’s not the case for every single Bengal. You may have adopted one that’s stubborn or just plain lazy. That doesn’t mean they’re not trainable, though. You may just need to have a little more patience with your headstrong kitty.
Can I Train My Bengal to Walk on a Leash?
Absolutely! Teaching a cat to walk on a leash is not as difficult as you might think. You’ll first need to buy your Bengal a harness that fits snugly. You’ll also need to buy a leash. We recommend a retractable option, as you can vary the length of the leash depending on where you’re walking or what your training goals are.
First, get your kitty accustomed to wearing its harness. Put it on them for a few minutes every day just to let them get a feel for it. Once it’s used to wearing the harness, you can attach the leash. As with harness training, only leave the leash attached for a few minutes at a time. You will need to repeat this process to get your cat used to both its harness and leash.
Next, take them to a safe space, such as your enclosed backyard, to let them explore with the harness and leash on. Once they are comfortable walking around your yard, you can take your adventures further by going to the street and going for a short walk.
Remember, never push your cat to do anything it’s not willing to do on its own. Be patient and let them lead the leash training sessions.
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How Can I Train My Bengal to Stop Its Bad Behavior?
Bengals have a lot of energy, and if they don’t have an outlet for all this pent-up energy, they can turn to naughty behaviors. Don’t let its small size confuse you. A bored Bengal can be just as destructive as a dog!
The best way to prevent any problematic behaviors is to set up your cat’s environment in a way that will not allow for mischievous misbehavior in the first place. Bengals need to play, scratch, hunt, and exercise. Does your home have toys or structures like cat trees set up so your kitty can release some of its energy in a healthy way?
Some of the best items to invest in when you have Bengals include:
Most Bengals also do well in multi-pet homes. You may consider adopting another cat or even a dog to keep it company if you’re away a lot. Having another playmate around can keep your naughty Bengal active and busy all day. You will need to ensure you’re introducing your two pets slowly, however, to ensure that territory aggression is kept to a minimum.
Bengals are among the easiest cat breeds to train, so you’re already off to a good start if you have a Bengal at home. Patience is key to training any pet, so be sure you have realistic expectations as you begin down the path of training your pet. Remember to let your kitty lead each training session so they stay interested in what you’re trying to teach them and to prevent unnecessary stress or boredom.
Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock