The Basics of Clicker Training Your Cat

The Basics of Clicker Training Your Cat

The Basics of Clicker Training Your Cat

Cats are notorious for being independent and not-so-eager to please their masters. The Pet’s Place Animal Hospital is ready to let you in on a little secret, though. You can most definitely train your kitty, and in fact, clicker training your cat is a very rewarding and useful endeavor. Keep reading to learn how.

All About the Clicker

Clicker training falls into the category of a type of positive reinforcement training. Positive reinforcement training techniques rely on reinforcing desirable behaviors versus punishing for undesirable behavior. In the animal training world, positive reinforcement training is well known for creating very strong and reliable responses.

Clicker training is a way to be able to positively reinforce your pet at pretty much any time. By teaching your pet to associate a training clicker with something good, you can reward them instantly for good behavior even without carrying around treats at all times. A laser pointer is a good substitution for a clicker if you have a deaf pet. 

For instance, if you want your pet to scratch on their scratching post instead of the couch, you can click whenever they make that choice. This gives them a reward for scratching in the desired location. 

Clicker training goes a little like this:

  1. To introduce the clicker, prepare a large amount of your pet’s favorite treats in small pieces. Depress the clicker and then reward immediately. This will teach your pet to associate the sound with a reward.

  2. Once your pet seems to understand a click equals a treat, make it a little more difficult. Depress the clicker when their attention is not on you. Your pet should look at you immediately to get a treat. If they do, you have created a strong association and it is time to move on. 

  3. You can now use the clicker to shape behaviors. For instance, while you may want to teach your pet to lay on a rug while you eat, you can reward him for taking a step towards the rug. Once your pet understands to move away, you can start only clicking for taking a few more steps away until he learns the desired result. 

  4. Click closely in time to the desired behavior so there is no confusion. Try not to click too many times in a row. 

  5. Remember that you don’t always need to give a treat once the pet solidly understands that the click is a positive thing. The sound is often reward enough!

  6. Start with teaching your cat to sit. Then use your imagination!

Clicker Training Your Cat

Because those of the feline species are not small canines, clicker training your cat can be a little different than training your dog. 

Clicker training has been shown to be a very successful method in cats, though, and is a useful tool to have in your arsenal. Some kitty specific tips include:

  • Find a treat your cat really likes–smelly fishy treats are popular

  • Some cats prefer a special toy or catnip to a food treat

  • Watch for subtle signs that kitty is paying attention–cats can be less obvious than dogs

  • Engaging in training activity just for fun can provide mental stimulation and enrichment, while decreasing behavioral problems

Clicker training your cat is a fun and useful activity to share and bond with your pet. Behavior in animals is a complicated topic, though. If you are having trouble training your cat, please contact us. We are happy to rule out underlying health conditions and guide you in correcting the problem. 

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