We have all heard about clicker training dogs, but have you ever thought about clicker training your cat?
Using a clicker to support the training of your cat can be extremely beneficial because cats also associate the clicker with good behaviour. Clicker training is associated with classical condition (they associate the sound with food) and operant conditioning (cat performs to receive food).
Why use a clicker instead of speaking or using a sound to get your cat to do a trick? A clicker has a sound a cat can hear and associates with good behaviour. With words, our tones in our voice can change from time to time, which can confuse a cat. With speaking commands, a cat can mistake the commands. A clicker is more of a training tool to get the behaviour started in your cat. Then you can put the clicker away once your cat has learned what you want from them.
With the clicker, a cat can be trained using three easy steps: • choose trick or behaviour • mark the trick or behaviour • reinforce the behaviour.
Let’s look at training your cat to jump a hoop. The cat will first need to learn that a click means a treat. Start with very small treats in your pocket. Click, treat, click, treat. Do this until you see the cat coming for the treat on the click.
Next “mark” the trick. This means showing your cat the hoop. Once the cat touches the hoop, click, treat. Then show the cat to go through the hoop. Once he does: click, treat. Continue to do this until the cat goes through the hoop on his own or on your command.
To reinforce the behaviour, when your cat goes through the hoop then click and treat. It is important to remember to have snacks handy so when you do see your cat go through the hoop a snack is available.
Training a cat with a clicker can be fun for both you and your cat. Remember not to rush a cat in training as they can become confused, especially if they didn’t get the step beforehand. The training will take time and persistence to achieve the final trick or behaviour. Patience, love and rewards will be the key factor in training your cat.
If you have an inside cat, clicker training is good not only for exercise but also for mental stimulation. Try clicker training for as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day and you will be surprised just how quick your cat will learn what is being asked of him.