I’ve tried different techniques when training my dogs and I’ve always found that clicker training has more reliable results and the dog tends to catch on faster.
With such good results training my dogs with the clicker, I started working with Moe.
First, he had to learn what the clicker means, which is termed ‘loading the clicker’ or ‘charge the clicker.’ Basically, what this involves is click the clicker and offer a treat; do this repeatedly until the cat realizes when he hears the click, something good will happen (and in this case he gets a treat).
Once your cat has figured out what the clicker means, you can train one of two ways.
- Catch the cat in the act of the wanted behavior and click/treat.
- Work in several small training sessions.
When training your cat, you’ll probably find that using both training methods will be best. The small training sessions will help teach the basics, and you’ll be able to reinforce training by during daily activities.
You can either buy a clicker or use something you may have on hand that makes a similar sound, such as a clickable pen.
If you choose to buy a clicker, there are many types of clickers. I recommend getting the handheld clicker and the pointer clicker.
The pointer clicker can help direct your cat and can be used as a ‘touch’ target.
Once you’ve charged the clicker, you want to teach your cat to touch a target. This will help when training tricks and basic commands. This is where the pointer clicker comes into play. If you opt for a regular clicker, you will want to get another object to use as a target; pencils and straws work well.
- Hold the target with one hand, and hold the clicker and treats with the other hand.
- Lower the target about a 1/2″ to an inch away from your cat’s nose. When your cat reaches out to sniff it, click and treat. Do not click/treat if your cat paws at it. You only want to click/treat if your cat sniffs and touches the target with his nose.
- When your cat has grasped the concept, add a cue word, such as ‘Touch.’ Use the cue word as your cat touches the target with his nose.
- Start moving the target a little further away and repeat the process.
Clicker training is a great way to train your cat. The click marks the behavior you want repeated. You want to be positive, and you don’t want to set your cat up to fail. Your cat needs to learn the behavior before you add a word to it; you can’t expect your cat to ‘sit’ if he doesn’t know what ‘sit’ means.
Repetition helps to build confidence and solidify behaviors.
It may take 3 to 5 times before the light bulb goes off that when he does a wanted behavior, he gets a treat. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will be consistent after the 5th time, but he will begin to figure out what you want.
If you ever notice your cat backing up on behavior, you’ll want to step backwards, as you’ve moved too fast too soon.