Clicker Training for Cats: What You Need to Know
When most pet owners think of clicker training, they usually think of dogs, as that is what it is traditionally used for. However, these days, the training is said to be effective on cats as well. Of course, you may have attempted to train your cat before, using the same methods that you used to train your dog, but that probably didn’t turn out too well. As a matter of fact, it’s probably a fact, that your cat didn’t even turn his head to acknowledge the stern “No” you sent his way. The same no that sent your dog scurrying under the table to hide, until you weren’t mad at him anymore, which probably prompted you to give up on training the feline and just concentrating on the pup, instead.
It is said, that though cats don’t respond to firm voices and punishment tactics to train them, that there are ways you can train your cat to do everything from using the toilet, instead of the litter box, to not biting and scratching other pets and humans. This is all done through positive reinforcement, something you probably learned in college during your intro psychology class but was then used on humans. Now, it is said that this type of positive reinforcement can be used to train your cat. One of those positive reinforcement training tools is clickers training, and it is said to be doing wonders to train even aggressive cats. Since we live in an era where cat information and information about the behavior of cats is available at the click of a mouse, this could very well be true.
Do you have a cat that you would like to train? Have you always avoided having cats as pets, inside of your home, because dogs are trainable and cats just aren’t? Well, it looks like, with clickers training, you might be able to bring your outdoor cat in and make him an indoor cat instead. It’s even said that there are tricks you can teach your cat with your clicker, once they have been trained. How neat would it be to use a clicker to prompt your cat to do tricks or keep them from scratching up your walls and furniture for that matter?
In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about clickers training for your cats, from the pros and cons, whether it truly works, and even how to go about training your cat with that clicker. Ready to learn how to train your cat with a clicker? Us too! So, let’s grab that clicker and learn how to use it, in this blog about clickers training for cats and what you need to know. After all, they say you CAN train cats, so let’s dive in and find out if it’s true, and if so, how we can do it!
What is Clickers Training?
Clicker training is said to work by using a device that makes a distinct sound that your cat can clearly hear. These little plastic devices can be picked up at almost any store, for a few dollars, sometimes more. As with any type of animal training, clicker training works by using food as a reward system. The goal is for your cat to eventually associate the sound of the click with the food that she craves. This will prompt the cat to behave the way you want because there is a tasty treat in it for them at the end. The treat, however, needs to be a high-value treat. For example, if your cat loves fish, then a tasty piece of fish should be a reward for good behavior and responding to the clicker sound. This device is said to be working wonders for cat lovers everywhere, so why not give it a try. The device isn’t expensive, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying it with your feline companion.
The Pros and Cons of Clicker Training for Cats
As with anything else in the animal kingdom, there are pros and cons to clicker training your cat and there are cat owners who swear by it and others who scoff and say it will never work. With that in mind, let’s delve into the pros and cons and make up our own minds about whether it works or not.
Pro: Creates a Highly Rewarding Atmosphere
Cats don’t do well in negative atmospheres and they certainly don’t respond well to being punished or yelled at. Clickers training creates a highly rewarding and calm atmosphere for your cat to learn in, which won’t lead to aggressive behavior and them attacking, scratching, and biting anyone or anything that comes near them.
Con: It’s a Reward Based Concept
Since clickers training is a reward based concept, then it’s possible that your cat can’t be trained by it. No two cats are the same, and it may be that your cat is not that interested in food, treats, or toys. If you have an indifferent cat, then no amount of clicking is going to get the desired behavior, unless you can find a treat that they can’t resist. Since you know your cat better than anyone, you may be able to find that trigger for them.
Pro: It’s a Tried and True Concept
Since there has been so much success with clickers training and dogs, it stands to reason that if done the right way and with just a little tweaking, that clickers training for cats will be just as successful. There are reports coming in all of the time about pet owners who are happy as can be, because their cats now behave, due to the clicker they purchased to train them.
Con: It Takes Patience and Time
One of the biggest disadvantages to clicker training, for dogs and cats it seems, is that it takes a lot of time and a whole lot of patience. You can’t expect your cat to hear the click of the device one time and instantly change his behavior. It takes time, patience, and dedication on the part of the cat owner and many of us don’t have any of that in spades. If you do, then this is probably the perfect device to train your feline pal with.
These are just a few of the pros and cons of clicker training for your cat. Weigh them carefully, do your research and then determine if this is the right choice for you and your cat. Now onto, the next big question, why would you want to clicker train your cat, to begin with?
Why Clicker Train Your Cat?
If your cat goes outside, or even if she’s not supposed to but gets out anyway, it is good to have her clicker trained, so that she will come when she hears the click. It is also said, that cats enjoy earning their food, which is why you often find that your cat still hunts prey out in the yard when their food bowl is full on the porch or in the house. Not only that, but clicker training is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your cat as well, something that every cat owner wants. Not only can clicker training do the things above for your cat it can also help to call your cat in from outside or even help with a stressful situation such as getting your cat in the carrier to go to the vet, something all of them fight, as all of us pet parents well know. So, there a few of the reasons and benefits to training your cat with a clicker, let’s move onto the rest of the blog.
Now, we will move into a few of the top tips out there for clicker training your cat. Ready to learn how to get the job done? Then, let’s get to it!
Tips for Clicker Training Your Cat
Now, that you know the pros and cons of clicker training for your cat, and that clicker training for a cat is indeed a real thing, it’s time to go into the tips that will help you use the device and train your cat.
First Thing to Remember, Cats Aren’t Dogs
The first thing you need to remember is that cats aren’t dogs. Dogs are social animals, that have been domesticated for a long time. Cats, on the other hand, domesticated themselves if you can call it domesticated. Dogs cater to our needs, whereas cats feel like we should cater to their needs instead. You know it’s true! Basically, back when humans started farming, cats sensed that there were rodents and other forms of food to be had. Basically, they came for the food and stayed for the benefits. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that even after 9,000 years of living with or at least alongside humans, cats are still only semi-domesticated. Which means, that if you want your cat to be trained, you are going to have to work hard for it and realize that the treat for behaving is going to have to be super-rewarding for clicker training to work.
What You Are Going to Need
There are a few things that you will need to get you started on your quest to clicker train your cat, those things are listed below.
- A clicker or there are clicker apps that do the same thing as well
- If your cat is deaf, you can use a flashlight or a penlight, with the same results
- Treats or food that your feline pal really enjoys
- A target stick is optional but could come in handy
Once you’ve gathered these things, you need to get your clicker ready to go, unless you are using the clicker app, of course, then you are ready to begin training your cat.
Prime Your Cat and Your Clicker
The first thing you need to do is help your cat make a connection with the sound your clicker makes and the fact that he is going to get a tasty treat if he responds. Do this, by getting your cat’s attention and making the clicker sound, then giving your cat a treat right away. It’s important to remember that every cat responds differently to the clicker, so while your neighbor’s cat might get it right away, it might take several tries with your own cat, so don’t get discouraged and be patient with your feline pal.
Make Every Click Count
It’s important not to just go around using your clicker if you want to train your cat properly. It’s important to make every click count. For example, you don’t want to just play with the clicker when you’re sitting and watching TV, it’s not a toy! Instead, only use the clicker when you want to get the desired behavior from your cat, and always, always have a treat ready and waiting, as a reward for a job well done, when the cat responds as you expect him too.
Use Your Target Stick
Though a target stick is optional, it has helped many cat owners train their pets properly. Gently touch the cat’s nose with the target stick, being careful not to scare him. Make sure that you have your clicker and treats in hand when you do this. Do not click before or after the touch, seeing what your cat does from there. This is the perfect first exercise to try and get your cat used to the sound of the clicker and the behavior you want him to accomplish.
One of the best ways to train your cat with the clicker is by being patient with him throughout the process and lovingly trying to help him learn. The last thing you want to do is get impatient with your cat or yell at him when he doesn’t get it right away.
These are just a few of the things you need to know about clicker training and cats. Remember, being patient with your cat is extremely important to take your time and have a good time with your training!
- Adventure Cats: How to Clicker Train Your Cat
- Catster: How to Train a Cat Using Clicker Training
- Pam Johnson-Bennett: Clicker Training