One of the biggest myths is that cats can’t be trained due to their independent personality. Yes they are very autonomous pets, but the truth is that cats are perfectly suitable for training, from learning tricks to correcting unwanted behaviours.
Clicker training is one of the most effective methods, this positive reinforcement tool has shown great results in various other animals such as dogs and horses. Continue reading this article If you wish to learn how clicker train your cat.
Importance of training your cat
As domestic animals, cats spend most of their life indoors. In order to ease up everyday life, it is key that cats learn how to distinguish between wanted and unwanted behaviours.
Training your pet requires time and attention, which will strengthen your relationship. It will improve communication and will allow you to get to know your cat better. Plus, you will be stimulating its mind and body, which is beneficial to its overall health and wellbeing.
Training your cat has a lot of benefits, but it is important that we understand that it is a meticulous task that won’t happen overnight, it requires a lot of time and dedication in order to achieve good results.
What is a clicker?
A clicker is a small and simple device with a button that creates a clicking sound. This sound is different from any other noise your cat is used to hearing, which makes this training style much more effective and easier for your pet to understand an instruction.
The scientific term for this method is operant conditioning, and it works using the cat’s natural instinct of repeating a behaviour that has a positive consequence.
How to use a clicker?
The clicker uses sound to indicate the cat when a behaviour is desired. For this, small pieces of food or snacks are used as rewards.
The beginning stage is very simple yet essential for the training to succeed. It is important that before you start, you clear off any distractions in the space you are going to do the training in.
For the prize, it is recommended that the snacks or food used is very small. The goal here is that your cat doesn’t take a ton of time eating and doesn’t get distracted from the training. Plus, if your cat eats too much, you will have less time to train.
In order for the training to work you have to make your cat relate the “click” with a positive feeling, this process is known as charging the clicker. We recommend that when charging the clicker, your cat hasn’t been fed yet, this will make the snacks and even more tempting reward.
The only thing that you need to do is lay down with your cat and give him a snack, and in the precise moment he takes it, press the clicker.
This has to be done repeatedly, it is advised to do it three to four times a day in 5 minute sessions throughout one week. Remember that every cat is different, some of them may take longer to achieve the association.
Once your cat has managed to relate the clicking sound to a positive feeling, it is time to start the actual training. The key is to press the clicker when your pet is performing a behaviour that is desired, in this way you will be marking these actions as positive.
It is important that the “click” is produced exactly when the action is done, not before nor after. In this way your cat will be able to clearly distinguish what behaviours should be repeated. With more advanced cats you can even show them tricks.
For example, if the behaviour that you are trying to correct is furniture scratching, you can simply “click” when your cat is doing the desired behaviour, in this case it would be using a scratcher. If you want your cat to use its carrier by itself, click when it is hopping into it.
Now that you know how to use a clicker with your cat, you can start using this device as a training tool. Remember that every cat is different and that training will always require patience.
Tell us in the comments what you think about this article, and share with us what other methods you have used to train your cat.