Clicker Coaching Cats: How To Educate Your Kitty Clicks Equal Rewards
Cats have a reputation for being about as trainable as a herd of eels, but did you know that cats actually respond very well to clicker training? Because cats respond better to positive reinforcement than negative reaction and punishment, offering them food, a favorite toy, or special love petting can motivate them to do exactly what you ask!
Throw away the old idea that cats aren't trainable and learn how to clicker to train your cat to do everything from staying at the counter to high five!
You may have heard the term before, but what is clicker training for cats? And why should you think about such training for your cat?
Animal Wellness Magazine defines clicker training as "a positive reinforcement method based on behavioral psychology".
That said, instead of yelling at Kitty or breaking out the controversial spray bottle, you will teach your cat to stop doing what you consider bad behavior with a simple sound and a reward. Sound impossible?
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It really isn't! Cats are highly intelligent beings who not only need food, water and play from you, but also mental stimulation. Fortifying cats is just as important as good nutrition and health care. Clicker training to learn new skills or stop bad behavior keeps your cat's mind as agile as its body!
Additionally, clicker training cats can help reduce their health care stress. Dr. Marci L. Koski, certified advisor for cat behavior and training, explains: "Clicker training can also help your cat to participate in low-stress handling procedures such as nail clipping and medication."
So training cats isn't impossible. In fact, the use of positive reinforcement will make kittens happily involved in learning new things.
But what can cats learn from clicker training? Almost anything you can think of!
Solve bad behavior with a clicker
Clicker training can solve almost any behavior problem in the house. Do cats bully each other? Click this button when you see them interact in a way that doesn't just hiss and bang. This teaches the couple you love to see that they will tolerate each other rather than fight.
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Pam Johnson-Bennett, a leading specialist in cat behavior, tells Animal Wellness Magazine that clicker training isn't just about teaching cats how to get along.
- Aggression towards humans and dogs and other cats, including biting and scratching
- Scratches on furniture and walls
- Excessive vocalization
- Other indications of destructive or negative attention seeking
- Stay calm in times of high stress, such as visiting the vet or getting into a porter
Johnson-Bennett adds, "The only situation I don't use it is litter box training because I don't want to bother the cat right now."
If you can avoid adult cat clicker training when it comes to the litter box, this is the best. The litter box is one of those messy problems that cats can easily be shed. If you have a problem with inadequate pollution, discuss the problem with your veterinarian. If nothing else solves the problem, try clicker training, but seek advice from a doctor first.
For kittens making up their minds about the world, clicker training can be a great tool to help stubborn babies learn good throwing pan habits.
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Fun cat clicker training for sharpening cats
Clicker training cats don't just solve bad behaviors. It can also give them a repertoire of cool tricks! But best of all, it keeps your cat's mind moving. As the cats get older, their cognitive processes begin to decline. Help slow the progression of senility in cats by keeping them occupied and stimulating their famous curiosity.
But when choosing which tricks to teach your cat, you are putting her personality into perspective. Teach them things that make sense to them. For example, cats that are more likely to be lazy need energy-saving tricks, while fireball cats need tricks that aim to burn off some of their energy.
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Getting started with clicker training for cats
What you need for cat clicker training:
- A willing cat – Cats are brilliant little animals who spend their days learning everything that dares to cross their paths. And since cats love to learn, training with a clicker is a matter of course for such intuitive animals. But never force your cat into activity. When you do this, a rift arises in your carefully crafted relationship.
- Clicker device – These can be bought online or you can download a clicker training app. You can also use something that you can find at home. Make sure, however, that the tool delivers an immutable sound every time you use it. For example, this could be a click-style ink stick or a snap of your finger. The idea is to create a unique sound that your cat will identify as a clue.
- Positive gain factor – For most kittens, cat treats and food are your rewards for the behavior you reinforce. Cats who are not motivated to eat can be a little harder to reward. But you know your cat and his favorite things. What makes him happiest? Is it a dumb mouse toy? Or is it just rubbing your chin? Toys and scratches can serve as ideal positive reinforcement for cats that don't give figs for snacks.
How Clicker Train Your Cat
Introducing the clicker
The first step in training your cat to clicker is to introduce the clicker. Have food or treats ready. Or are already thinking about which toys or which pets you love to offer as a reward.
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Show the cat the clicker before you click on it in her presence. As we know, new sounds can make kittens nervous. Let your cat watch the clicker and offer lots of happy reassurance. If it looks like Kitty is doing fine with this new thing, click the button and offer your cat an instant reward after the click.
Don't be discouraged if your cat runs away and looks at you like a madman during this introduction. Cats need time to get involved with new ideas. Like many of us, they're not big fans of change. Just keep practicing, clicking, and treating positively until your cat recognizes the clicking sound as a good thing. Once the cat is comfortable with the clicker, you can move on to designing the behavior.
Design for success
Start with the things she is already doing to get your cat used to the clicker and its meaning. One of the easiest behaviors is when your cat is staring at you. She's already doing it and you love it, so start there. When you see your cat staring at you, click the clicker and treat her. This will help her get the idea that the sound of the click means happy reward time.
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Do you love how your kitten girl kisses the tip of her nose with her scratchy tongue? Use this as another shaping behavior by clicking the clicker while the kisses are taking place and then giving her the treat. Note, however, that once a cat positively associates the behavior, it may begin the click-worthy action on its own and frequently. In that case, expect an adorably intolerable amount of sandpaper kisses!
Behavior change with clicker training
Cats do not respond well to screaming, beating, or other punitive measures. If anything, these actions can drive a wedge between you and your cat. But with positive reinforcement training with a clicker, you and Kitty can live in harmony!
Here is an example of behavior change using clicker training:
You no longer want your cat to jump on the kitchen counter.
The first thing you need to remember is to discourage the bad habit with no answer. Scoop up your cat when it hops on the counter and place it on the tree. While he's on the tree, click the button and treat your boy. Do this every time he jumps on the counter.
If instead he decides to sit on his scratching post without being asked, click the clicker and offer the reward. Whenever you see your cat pick an acceptable place that isn't the counter, click and treat! Soon your smart cat will find out that I don't get any treats when I walk on the counter. I guess I won't do this anymore. And you never had to raise your voice or get a squeeze bottle!
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To teach your cat a cool trick like a high five, clicker training guru Karen Pryor provides detailed instructions to teach your cat various tricks. See if you and your cat can master this with their guidance. Plus, Google searches and videos offer some thought on the best way to train cats to do fun tricks with one click! It all depends on what is fun for you and your kitten.
Remember, tricks also need verbal cues. When teaching your cat a trick, always say what she's doing. For example, when teaching your cat to stand on its back legs, tell it "stand up" or some other cute name to use as a command to stand up. Cats learn what words mean pretty quickly. They have proven this time and again with their uncanny ability to know the word "food" from the start!
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If the idea of clicker training seems intimidating, shrug those thoughts off! Cats are intelligent animals who love to learn new things. Indeed, learning tricks and the commitment that comes with training provide important stimulation to the cat's brain.
Below are the basic ideas for cat clicker training:
- You need a clicker tool or app, positive reinforcement like treats, food, toys or special attention, and a willing cat.
- When your cat is doing the action you want it to do, whether it's good behavior or a trick, click the clicker.
- Immediately after the click, offer your chosen positive reinforcement along with an encouraging, joyful response.
- To repeat!
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A note on clicker training in houses with multiple cats
Whether or not you want to train your cats together or separately is a decision that is best left to the cat parent as you know your cats best. Marny Nofi, a senior behavior manager on the ASPCA Behavioral Sciences team, ensures cats can be trained together because “cats can tell when the click is for them, so there's no need to separate or avoid cats when Training before a cat to click Another. "
If your cat can ignore another cat's click, purrfect. But if a kitten keeps interfering with the specific training that is only intended for one of the cats, it may be a good idea to separate them during early training. At some point the clicker becomes old hat and everyone has their own routine when it comes to clicking and treating.
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What not to do during clicker training
Clicker training cats sound easy, don't they? It can really be with some cats. It will take others a little longer to get it, and that's fine too. Don't be angry or frustrated with your cat. It is important that you remain patient and that your cat can determine the speed of training. If a cat views training as a stressful situation, it will avoid it at all costs and may do the opposite of the desired result.
If you feel frustrated while exercising, take a break and step back. Training your cat with clicker should be a fun activity for both of you. It's a great bonding exercise that will help build closer trust between you and your cat. Enjoy the workout and make it kitty fun too!
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5 quick tips for clicker training cats
- Whatever positive reinforcement you choose, make sure it's something that really gets your cat's attention. A particularly smelly treat that will give them swirling eyes or a toy that their paws can't help but look for ideal choices to keep them motivated.
- When training cats on treats, bring food bowls so that cats are more interested in the treats you are offering. When in crisis, a cat can adopt a laconic attitude towards training.
- Start small behaviors and work on bigger tasks. Don't overwhelm Kitty with too much right away, or he may lose interest.
- Stay calm. Be patient. Cats do things in their own time. It's her world and don't forget it!
- Have fun lingering with your furry best friend on your journey into the fun world of clicker training for cats!
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H / T: www.animalwellnessmagazine.com
Feature Image: @ purrsuasioncattraining / Instagram & @ church_aka_tonic / Instagram