Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Fumipets
How to Train Your Cat Using a Clicker: A Purrfect Approach
Training a cat might sound like a daunting task, but with the right techniques, it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. One effective method is using a clicker, a small device that emits a distinctive sound when pressed.
This sound becomes a powerful tool to reinforce positive behaviors and communicate with your feline friend. Here’s a summary of how to train your cat using a clicker and enhance your bond through positive interactions.
Cat Using a Clicker
Despite the fact that your cat can appear to have a mind of his own, clicker training is surprisingly successful. Treats, rules, and a clicker can go a long way! These tips on clicker training for cats will help you set yourself up for success whether you’re attempting to educate your cat to avoid undesirable habits or you just want to teach your cat a few simple skills.
We contacted Marny Nofi, a senior behavior manager on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Behavioral Sciences Team, for advice on how to teach your cat. Read on for her best advice.
Why Cat Training Is Important
Beyond just educating your cat to sit, cat training has many other advantages. “You’re stimulating his body and mind, which helps keep him healthy,” Nofi explains. Mental stimulation will help keep him feeling enriched and exhausted, keeping him from engaging in typical annoyance behaviors out of boredom. Yes, training can help if your cat has a habit of tipping things over and making noise late at night. Additionally, training can improve your cat’s interactions with people and help it become less fearful and aggressive.
Clicker Training Basics
Using a sound to signal when an animal is doing appropriately, clicker training is a “second-order” positive reinforcement training technique. If you’ve previously looked for cat training videos online, you’ve probably already seen one in use.
What’s a Clicker?
A typical clicker is a little plastic box that fits in the palm of your hand and has a metal tongue that you swiftly push to produce a “click” sound. The standard box clicker’s loud sound might be frightening to some cats, according to Nofi. Some clickers have a softer sound, which might appeal to cats more.
You can quickly and effectively teach your cat any form of behavior with clicker training, from practical commands like sit and stay to silly ones like wave and fetch.
How Does Clicker Training Work?
Cat training using a clicker may be quicker and simpler, in part because the click signal indicates when an animal is doing correctly. When using a clicker to educate an animal, you must first teach it to link each click with a reward, such as a favorite food. He will be able to learn which actions will result in treats after he realizes that the click is always accompanied by one.
Can You Train Without a Clicker?
Yes, of course! If you don’t have a clicker, Nofi suggests using a pen that creates a clicking noise, your tongue, or a one-syllable word like “yes.” Trainers often utilize clickers, although any distinctive sound may be effective if used frequently and consistently. If you don’t have a clicker, you can even download a cat clicker app on your phone.
Getting Started: Clicker Training for Cats, Step-by-Step
Finding a reward that your cat adores is the first step, according to Nofi. (Cat snacks that are often sold in stores, pieces of tuna, freshly chopped chicken, or even any baby food with meat taste are all fine choices.) Whatever the reward, Nofi suggests making sure it’s a little amount so your cat can eat it fast and concentrate on the work at hand.
Introducing Your Cat to the Clicker
Keep your training sessions brief, no more than a few minutes at a time, since cats have even shorter attention spans than dogs. Your cat will start to understand after a few sessions.
With a dish or saucer of goodies nearby, sit down with your cat.
As soon as the clicker is activated,send your kitty a treat.
As long as your cat is engaged, keep doing this at random intervals.
When your cat realizes that every click sound results in a treat, he or she may start to focus on the treats rather than the clicker when the sound is made.
Behavior Training with a Clicker
You’re ready to move on to some fundamental actions, like sit, after your cat seems to comprehend that each click indicates a “treat.”
Make sure your cat is paying attention to you first. Start by bringing the reward up to the cat’s nose while holding the clicker in one hand and a delectable treat in the other.
Move the reward carefully from his nose to the area immediately behind his ears as soon as he starts to smell it. Your cat’s eyes and ears will probably follow this arcing action, and when its chin rises and turns back, its back will sink.
Giving your cat a reward at the precise moment his bottom touches the floor can help teach him the right behavior.
Throughout your training session, perform this exercise several times.
Pro Tips for Clicker Training Success
Training with a Treat-Eager Cat
When you lure cats, some of them may attempt to take the goodie in your hand, according to Nofi. “An alternative is to teach these cats to touch a target stick.” Once your cat understands that touching his nose to a stick results in a reward, you can use a lure to get him to perform other behaviors.
Finding the Right Reward
Finding your cat the correct incentive is essential since many cats aren’t accustomed to being taught. For cats that are uninspired by food, it may be a few seconds of playing with a toy or a little serving of tuna, but it might also be their favorite pleasure.
Ensure Your Cat is Incentivized to Work for Each Reward
If your cat doesn’t appear to be reacting to rewards during training, it’s possible that they always have easy access to food. If so, Nofi advises implementing scheduled mealtimes and scheduling training sessions prior to meals to encourage your cat to work for a reward.
A cat that isn’t responding to training may also not be aware of what you want him to accomplish. Make incentives more available to him so that he may work up to additional behaviors. For instance, you may encourage your cat to smell your hand only to get him closer to, say, sitting.
Clicker Training Multiple Cats at a Time
Multiple cats can be clicker trained simultaneously, according to Nofi. There is no need to segregate cats or refrain from clicking in front of a cat while teaching another cat since cats can recognize when the click is intended for them. However, it might be necessary to separate cats that fight over treats during training sessions.
Training for Good Behavior, and Reducing Unwanted Behavior
Sit, stay, and target touching are excellent behaviors to start with, but you can teach your cat any sort of action with a clicker. Other entertaining skills like fetch, waving, and leaping through hoops or into their cat carrier may also come in handy!
On the other hand, teaching your cat to quit undesirable behavior calls for a comprehensive strategy that teaches them what they can and cannot do.
If you want to educate your cat not to scratch your sofa, for instance, you should make the couch less appealing to scratch (maybe by using double-sided sticky tape where he loves to scratch), according to Nofi. You should also intervene if your cat attempts to scratch there. Every time your cat utilizes the appropriate scratching surface, such as his scratching post, you may reward him with a click and a treat.
It is feasible to teach your cat, regardless of breed or age, and doing so will likely allay any worries your cat may have experienced in the past. Consistency and frequent training sessions are key when it comes to teaching cats (and all other animals).
Q&A: Training Your Cat Using a Clicker
What is clicker training for cats?
Clicker training is a positive reinforcement technique that uses a clicker to mark desired behaviors. The sound of the clicker is followed by a treat or reward, creating an association between the click and positive actions.
How does clicker training work?
Clicker training involves three steps: Click, Treat, and Reward. When your cat performs a desired behavior, you click the clicker, then offer a treat immediately. Over time, your cat associates the click with the treat, reinforcing the behavior.
What behaviors can be trained using a clicker?
Clicker training can be used to teach a wide range of behaviors, including sitting, staying, coming when called, and even tricks like high-fiving. It’s a versatile method that encourages mental stimulation and engagement.
How do I get started with clicker training?
Begin by associating the clicker with rewards. Click the device and immediately give your cat a treat. Repeat this several times until your cat connects the click with the treat. Once this association is established, you can start training specific behaviors.
How do I train my cat to respond to the clicker?
Start with simple behaviors your cat naturally does, like sitting. When your cat sits, click the clicker and give them a treat. Be consistent and patient. With repetition, your cat will begin to understand that the click indicates a reward.