When It Clicks – Clicker Training for Cats Quickly Explained
Clicker training is a very good way to promote the relationship with a cat and to mentally challenge the velvet paw. Every cat can “click”, most of them have a lot of fun with it and do it surprisingly well! Curious?
Why clicker training at all?
When the trend of clicker training came to us in Germany many cat owners probably thought “What is the point of that now?”. It was already familiar for dogs, but for cats? But if th subject was approached with curiosity, one soon realised that it is actually only “classical conditioning”, which was already proven in the “Pavlovian dog”: In 1905 the scientist Iwan Pawlow combined feeding with the sound of a bell and after a few days the dogs developed salivation at the sound of the bell. (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawlowscher_Hund)
This conditioning was later used in the training of dolphins and is similarly useful for cats: it is a great idea to challenge and encourage cats. And actually we condition our animals all the time – without thinking about it: guinea pigs squeal when they hear the rustling of the bag in which the salad is stored, dogs run into the kitchen when something is prepared there…
Cats can be more than beautiful
Right, cats can do more than you think. Even if it may seem strange at first, when cats also “sit” or give paw, they can do it and it is amazing what tricks cats can learn with clicker training and patience. But even if your cat is not planning a career in the circus, the training is very well suited for unbraking unwanted behaviour or getting cats used to the litter box or cat bag.
The kick of the click: The click is always neutral
Actually, clicker training is nothing else than rewarding the cat when it has done something right. Because right after the “click” comes a treat. So why the click? This is important and understandable to everyone: the click is always neutral and unemotional. A “well done” from us sounds different every time, depending on the situation we are in, whether we are relaxed or a bit pressed for time. And even if the cat didn’t do the trick quite as well, our pitch is quite different from when she did something really well for the first time. But the clicking is always the same and is linked to “I did that well”.
Timing is everything!
The second important criterion is that the click must come exactly when the cat has shown the desired behaviour. This works much better with a little pressure on the clicker than with the voice. Most important: After a click there must ALWAYS a reward, DIRECTLY afterwards! So prepare yourself well and stock up on Meatis before training. https://herrmanns-manufaktur.com/bio-katzenfutter/snacks-kauartikel/
Which tricks can be clicked?
We have already said: Every cat can click! It’s important not to overstrain the velvet paw, otherwise she won’t enjoy it and won’t understand what to do. Therefore you should start with easy exercises like
- Listen to the name
- Give paws
- Make “sit”
- Retrieve objects
- “Man up”
- turn in a circle
Every beginning is difficult. To get the starting point right, it helps to observe the cat closely. If she then randomly shows the desired behaviour, rewarding it with a click and a treat, she will certainly link it up very soon. It is also helpful to use one command for each trick, similar to dog training. But please think about the commands beforehand select them, so there are not too many similar sounding commands.
What else can clicker training do?
Sometimes it is not easy to achieve the desired behaviour in the cat. But overall, Clicker Training is a great balance, especially for indoor cats, and can be used to combine different situations with positive signals. For example:
- Use of the litter tray
- Getting used to designated scratching furniture
- Enter the transport box voluntarily
- Allowing to be touched everywhere
- Acceptance of care
- Travel by car
- Stay at the veterinary surgeon
- Putting on the cat harness
Dos and Dont’s at the clicker
In order to make clicking a fun experience for everyone, a few rules must be followed:
- There are only positive experiences – nothing negative! The cat is only encouraged in positive behaviour. Please never punish, push or shout at the cat. This destroys all previous successes.
- Few words! It’s all about the right code words, no harangue. That only distracts from the main education.
- Be patient! Your cat does not speak your language. And she may not understand what you want, right away. Just be patient! Sometimes you have to put up with the cat’s whims. Not every day is a good training day. Consistency is required: desired behaviour = treat, undesired behaviour = no reaction.
- Nothing motivates better than achievements! Start with simple tricks so both sides have a sense of achievement, this creates motivation.
- Timing! The click and reward must match exactly. The more time passes between trick, click and reward, the less the cat will understand the connection. This rule is particularly important for successful clicker training.
- Train regularly! It’s understandable that cats don’t have a very good memory, so they have to keep remembering the tricks and the situation itself.
- Light training sessions: Do not overdo it! Start with short units of a few minutes, then increase them a little, because head training is also exhausting for velvet paws. If the cat then shows no more motivation, just stop, if possible always with a sense of achievement.
It is important that you find good instructions, there are many books on this, for example by the cat therapist Birga Dexel, known from the TV series “hundkatzemaus”.
Just try it, you might be surprised. Maybe your cat is a star and will soon be able to jump through hoops or balance over small thresholds.
But please don’t forget to subtract the training treats from the total amount of food, otherwise all light-footed balancing tricks will soon be a thing of the past… ;o)
Healthy mind in a healthy body
Remember: training, that challenges body and mind, should also be rewarded with a species-appropriate, high-quality and nutrient-rich food.
Don’t you know Herrmann’s Manufaktur yet? Then browse through our high-quality organic cat food.
Have fun with your training!