How to Clicker Train Your Cat
Cats are trainable because they are smart. You can teach them amazing things if you can figure out how to communicate with them. Cat training makes them more friendly, less anxious, and overall happier.
Cat training rewards good behavior. In this way, you can help them see the benefits of changing their behavior and adopting the practices that you find are best for your coexistence. Behavior which is rewarded is more likely to happen again.
If, for example, you want your cat to let you work on your computer, the best solution is to offer an alternative and reward your cat for it.
Training your cat will give them mental stimulation, which has been shown to prevent destructive, aggressive, and anxious feline behaviors in a similar way to physical stimulation. Our definitive guide to cat behavior can be a good starting point if you're having trouble decoding your cat's communication.
The following are basic guidelines to help you train your cat to follow your commands.
Teaching a Cat Tricks
Almost every cat has the potential to learn a few easy tricks, and they should. Some, such as coming when called, are practical, while others, like giving a high five, are a pleasant sort of enrichment for your cat.
It's possible you're unaware of it, but your cat already knows a few tricks. You probably have a routine for feeding your cat, and your cat knows it and may have helped you make it. You may already have developed routines that your cat looks forward to, such as playing with them in the evening or giving them food in the afternoon. Cats learn a lot via establishing routines; therefore, teaching tricks is merely a matter of introducing a new routine.
What Is the Clicker Training Method?
Positive reinforcement training using a clicker is called "clicker training". A clicker is just a little mechanical noisemaker.
Clicker training reverses the traditional approach to cat training by highlighting positive behaviors rather than negative ones. It has been proven that by encouraging desirable actions rather than discouraging undesirable ones, you can impact a cat's behavior without incorporating fear, and therefore improve the bond with your cat.
The benefit of using a clicker is that it lets your cat know what they need to do to get a treat. By clicking, you can "mark" the exact moment your cat did what you told them to do. Thus, the click informs your cat exactly what they did well, rather than leaving them to guess which part of what they did triggered the reward. For example, if you want to teach your cat to sit, you will click as soon as their butt touches the floor.
The clicker is an example of an "arbitrary signal," which is a sound that has no meaning on its own but takes on meaning based on what we do with it. The "click" is a shorthand for "well done," which the pet quickly picks up on, making it an effective teaching tool.
Starting Clicker Training Cats
The earlier you start teaching your cat, the better. If you can, you should start clicker training your cat while they're still a kitten, preferably before they're three months old, but cats are capable of learning at any age.
Rewarding your cat is easy after they start consuming solid meals. Using their usual kibble or food will likely be enough motivation, and you won't have to worry about them overeating treats at an early age.
As long as your cat is still interested in treats and toys, it's never too late to start clicker training. Toys that use catnip can be especially useful when clicker training your cat.
Credit: Instagram @britishshorthairbeignet
How to Start Training Your Cat:
To get started with clicker training, you just need to follow three simple steps for five minutes every day.
You'll need a clicker and some treats to begin. You must first teach your cat to link the click sound with instruction before you can begin teaching them a behavior. Then you can reinforce the behavior with a verbal or physical signal.
Step 1: Prime the clicker
A clicker must be "primed" before it can be used in training: click, reward. Click and treat. Click, treat. In this way, your cat learns to associate the clicker's sound with a positive experience.
The entire time spent on this training to associate sounds with rewards should be around five minutes.
Step 2: Train up the first behavior
First, work on one behavior. Taking things slowly and methodically is the best way to go.
Teaching a cat a simple trick like "sit" should be the first step. In the same manner that we teach dogs to sit, we can teach cats to sit by holding a reward over their heads and gently guiding their necks into an arc.
When your cat does a "sit," you click as soon as their bottom contacts the ground. After clicking, you'll have around two to three seconds to give the treat to your cat. Timing is important; therefore, the sooner the better.
Step 3: Include a cue.
To ensure that your cat understands the idea, always teach the action (the cat sitting) at least five times before you start putting a word into it.
If your cat has never been trained, they may require more repetition. You know they get it when they begin to predict your next instructions.
Make sure your cat is seated before saying "sit."
What Tricks Should I Teach My Cat?
Some cat tricks are natural. When you put out your hand, your cat will swat it. You must have trained your pet to accept your touch before proceeding. Without this, the cat would see a raised hand as an attack signal.
You can teach your cat the following tricks:
- Train the cat to sit
- Train the cat to follow your finger
- Train the cat to come when called
How to Teach Your Cat to Sit
Place your cat on a table or other elevated surface if sitting on the floor is uncomfortable for you. When they see that you have a treat, they may approach you. Tell them to "sit," then hold the reward over their head. They may pause and take a seat. Click and reward when their butt touches the floor. Tell them they're a good cat. Repeat this several times before the session is over.
Keep training sessions short and sweet; teaching a cat to sit is more laborious than teaching them to come when called. When your cat reliably sits when you say "sit," you can lower the number of clicks and give them a treat or praise.
How to Teach Your Cat Finger Targeting
Finger targeting is one of the easiest and most useful tricks to teach a cat.
You´ll teach your cat that by touching your finger they receive a treat and then you'll be able to lure your cat just by pointing places with your finger.
This trick is very useful to ask your cat to get into the carrier or to start using a new piece of furniture from tuft + paw.
You can easily combine this method with some of the techniques we discuss in our guide to introducing your cat to new furniture.
How to Teach Your Cat to Come When Called
Besides being convenient, teaching your cat to come when called might save their life. You can lure them back inside if they run away. In the same way that cats come running as soon as they hear the can opener, they can learn to respond to their name just as effortlessly. They will come rushing to you as soon as you offer them treats and praise.
Although teaching your cat to come when called is easiest when they're a kitten, it can be done at any age.
Where Can I Learn Clicker Training for Free?
Have you heard of clicker training a cat but don't know where to begin? Here are several free places you may go to learn about clicker training. Use these resources to teach your cat to respond to a clicker and learn the basics of how to use a clicker to change behavior.
If you want to learn how to train your cat, OutdoorBengal.com is the place to go. They've amassed over 180k followers on YouTube and more than 150k on Instagram. You can learn about cat training, like clicker training, harness and leash training, adventure cats training, enriching indoor cats, correcting cat behavior, etc.
Space Cat Academy
Tori is the owner of Space Cat Academy, an online cat training school that offers courses and behavior consultation to cat owners all around the globe. She helps cats get rid of bad habits, gets them ready for new things, and teaches them skills that make them feel good about themselves and stimulate them. Tori is committed to assisting cats in learning without the use of force or fear so that they may have happy, healthy lives and close relationships with their owners.
Cat School is a trusted resource for thousands of cat owners because of its easy-to-follow guides and expert tips. They have you covered whether you want to teach your cat useful skills and tricks or learn how to use the clicker to break bad habits. The books are designed to assist cat owners in teaching their feline companions useful and entertaining skills that will encourage more exercise, better behavior, and a closer link between cats and humans.
In a nutshell, using a clicker to train your cat is a quick and easy way to change their behavior and even teach them some useful tricks. It may take some time for your cat to react to the clicker training, but don't give up! If the treat isn't working, try replacing it with a toy or a more tempting treat. Cats sometimes take a long time to react to the clicker, so don't expect instant results. Also, don't assume that the clicker will work for all of your cat's actions just because they have reacted to it for one. If you keep these things in mind, you and your cat can have great success with clicker training.
Author: Albert Colo
Social Media: @outdoorbengal
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