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How to Clicker Train Cats

Updated on May 24, 2009

''Click". 'Treat''. ''Good Cat''. The notorious clicker training method so famous in the dog world, can  now also be effectively applied to cats. It comes as no surprise that cats can be successfully clicker trained as smart as they are. All it takes is a clicker, some yummy treats, an attentive cat and an owner armed with some patience, consistency and time.

How Clicker Training works

Clicker training unlike other aversive training methods, focuses mainly on positive reinforcement. There is no pain, fear ,stress or surprise in clicker training and the best part is that this training method is one of  the most effective and successful. Clicker training works both to the the pet 's and owner's advantage. By using rewards, cats will enjoy the training and look forward to it  while owners will get their cat to obey and learn some tricks. 

Pets over all have demonstrated to have an instinct to associate actions with pleasant or unpleasant consequences. These actions are recorded in a pet's mind and depending on the consequence, the pet may be more likely or unlikely to perform the action. For instance, a cat that jumps on a counter causing a can of soda to fall, will startle and run away frightened by the noise. The cat at this point may associate climbing  on the counter with this unpleasant experience  (especially if repeated over and over) and therefore may be less likely to climb next time. On the other hand a cat that climbs on a counter and finds a nice piece of roasted chicken will feel reinforced to repeat ths action over and over. This type of learning is known as ''classical conditioning''.

In clicker training, a cat will be conditioned to repeat a determined action in order to get a reward. The cat's collaboration in intentionally performing an action in order to bring the pleasant reward, is known as ''operant conditioning''. The cat will be performing the desired actions because he or she has a specific purpose: obtaining the reward. The great part of this type of training is that pets become very collaborative, confident and even enthusiastic about this form of training because it is extremely advantageous.

The noise emitted by a clicker ensures that the pet knows exactly that what they are doing is the desired behavior. It acts almost like a''marker'' that highlights the desired behavior leaving no traces of doubt.In a cat's mind the clicking noise is like being told ''Yes! Good job, keep it up, here is a reward!'' all within one click. 

The clicker is also very reliable. Telling your cat ''Good cat'' instead of clicking may not be perceived well.  You may be using a diferent tone of voice each time or your may get confused and say ''Good boy or good girl'' instead of ''good cat''. Your cat may get confused and have trouble learning. The clicker instead is quick, effective, clear and produces always the same sound over and over. Pets learn quickly usually after just a few clicks and rewards.

How to Train Your Cat Using a Clicker

After having purchased a clicker, you and your cat on your way to learn a lot ! In order for the training to be effective you want to arm yourself with some tasty treats your cat loves a lot. Now you would have to choose an area of your home with no many distractions. 

-Step 1 

Teach your cat to associate clicking with a reward. You will not ask anything at this point but attention. The first clicks will mean nothing to your cat until the cat realizes that after the click the cat gets a treat. After a few times the cat will be looking or the treat immediately after the click. This is good, it is the first step towards clicker training,

-Step 2

Now that your kitty has learn to associate the click with a reward, you can start incorporating a desired behavior.For instance, take a treat show it to your cat, put it close to the cat's head slightly above to your cat will be forced to sit in order to get it. As soon as your cat sits, click and give the treat. You want to reward even if the sit is not perfect.

-Step 3

With some time, your cat will have learned that if he or she sits a click and a treat will shortly follow. Make sure you always click and treat immediately after your cat performs the wanted behavior. 

-Step 4

Now that your cat is clicker trained to perform some tricks, you can start replacing the click and treat with verbal rewards or pats or you may continue to give rewards only occasionally. You still however, want to click and treat every now and then to keep the pet's training refreshed.

Clicker training a cat is not an overly difficult task. Clicker training has actually demonstrated to be the most effective training method for cats. Cats once thought to be stubborn and untrainable beings, turn into enthusiastic, willing creatures that look forward to that ''Click, Treat and Good cat!''

High Five and Sit

Jump, Sit and Stay

Jump through Hoop

Your cat will get its mouth watery just thinking of clicker training!


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