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The 2023 PPG Summit: Homeward Bound

November 1, 2023 - November 5, 2023

Fear, anxiety and stress are all problems that almost every single cat entering a shelter will experience. Although some of these felines will habituate to shelter living with a little time and patience, there are just as many that need a little extra boost before they are adoption ready. Prolonged fear and stress can lead to illness, aggression, litter box issues and more. And fearful cats just don’t get adopted. Length of stay can be a huge concern for shelters and rescues trying to find placement for fearful felines.

A 2020 study showed that among shelter cats, those classified as “interactive” were adopted in an average of 36.9 days, but those in the “unapproachable” and even “approachable” categories took significantly longer. For “approachable” cats, the average length of stay was 50.8 days. For “unapproachable” cats, it was 118.7 days on average. What can shelter staff and volunteers do to turn unapproachable cats into interactive cats? During this session, you will learn how to use clicker training, primarily capturing and target training, to build confidence in fearful cats, create positive associations with people and reinforce social, interactive and even affiliative behaviors.

We will start with capturing eye contact, cheek rubs, and forward body movement, and move on to teaching cats to touch a target stick or hand. What gets reinforced gets repeated, and you will soon notice your fearful cat offering these interactive behaviors when approached. You will have the opportunity to work hands-on with cats, with Laura guiding you through the process of choosing a reinforcer, marking behavior you want to see repeated and ultimately modifying fearful behavior. These positive-reinforcement training methods will also be very effective for cats already in home settings, and for preparing those cats in a shelter setting to transition to a home environment.

Learning objectives:

• Learn how to find and choose reinforcers for fearful cats.
• Discuss ways to provide fearful cats with choice, even in a shelter environment.
• Use targeting to build positive associations with hands and touch.
• Use capturing to reinforce social behavior.
• Be able to translate these skills into a foster or adoptive home setting in order to
continue to build trust and confidence during and after the transition period.


November 1, 2023
November 5, 2023


The Pet Professional Guild
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Arizona Humane Society
1521 W Dobbins Rd
Phoenix,AZ85041United States
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