Clicker Training in Cats
24 June, 2013

Some pet owners and people, in general, think that cats can not be trained.  But, we cat owners know that our cats listen to us (usually) and want our praise.  And clicker Training could just be the tool to train your cat to come to you, get in his cat carrier and other fun tricks.  While clicker training is very common in dogs; not that many cat owners know about it or have tried it.

Clicker training is a reinforcement or reward system for your cat.  Cats associate the clicker with a good behavior that they will learn for a long time.

What is the clicker?

The clicker is a small plastic device with a metal strip that makes a clicking sound when it’s pressed. The advantage of the clicking sound is that it is completely distinct within your cat’s environment. Unlike the sound of your voice, which your cat hears all the time, the sound of the click becomes a clear form of communication. The click is something that your kitty can associate with the desired behavior.  A treat will usually follow a click, reinforcing the positive consequences of the behavior.

 

First, your cat needs to get used to the sound

The first step is to get your cat used to the sound of the clicker. When you have your cat’s attention, give the clicker a click and follow it immediately with a small morsel of something your kitty loves to eat. Commercial, healthy cat treats are great for this process. It’s important to give just a small amount of something desirable so your cat is left wanting more. You can either toss the treat to your cat or hand-feed it to him.

Start with an easy command

First, try to teach your cat to come to you at the sound of the clicker; usually your cat will come out of hiding to retrieve the treat. It’s the same ideas as how your cats come running at the sound of a can opener or the smell of tuna.   Start with something easy and then you can amp up the training with trying to get your cat to come to you when you bring out the cat carrier.  Remember to click during the desired behavior, not after it. Timing is crucial, because the click sound may actually cause the cat to terminate the behavior in anticipation of a treat.

Clicker training should be done in short sessions

Training a cat with a clicker can be fun for both you and the cat. Try not to rush your cat in training, as he or she can become confused. Make sure that each training session is short so that your kitty has the ability to focus.  The training will take time and steps to achieve this behavior. Patience, love, and rewards will be the key factor in training your cat.

Clickers come with training guides and recommendations

Clickers usually come with books to help you train, treats, and a clicker. Clickers come in many different size shapes, and color. You will want to research the clickers out.  You can find some clickers at your local pet store or your veterinarian might have a good recommendation about which clicker would work best with your cat.

Some cat owners have learned to replace clicks with voice commands or visual cues. Once a behavior has been learned, it doesn’t have to be rewarded with a treat every time, but should always be accompanied by praise.

Never punish for bad behavior

Don’t punish for bad or unwanted behavior, but refocus your cat on the good behaviors by rewarding him. For example, instead of punishing a cat for scratching on the furniture, reward him for using his tree or scratch pad.   Always think of reinforcing the good, desired behavior.

If you haven’t tried clicker training for your cat, you might want to give it a try.  If your cat is older, it could be effective as your kitty is, for now, only used to your voice.   Keep the sessions short and have fun!

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