Clicker training for the cat: rewarding good behavior
Although it is more difficult to teach a cat than a dog, it is still possible to train a cat. Teaching a cat can be very difficult, but it is not impossible. With clicker training you teach the cat that the moment it hears a click, it receives a reward. This can be in the form of a treat or a pat. The clicker training is also used for cats that have behavioral problems or are anxious. How does the training work and what can you teach the cat?
What it is
You can use a special device for this where you press a button and hear a clicking sound. An alternative could be a ballpoint pen with which a clicking sound can be made on the back. With this you can teach the cat that as soon as it hears a click, it will receive a reward. With a bit of luck, the cat will notice this fairly quickly, but you may also have to have a lot of patience. Some cats can train so well with this that they will perform things you never expected. For example, operating a light switch or walking into the travel basket.
Which cats are suitable for this?
The clicker training can be used as a tool for cats that have behavioral problems. It also helps cats who are bored and get some stress this way. A dog is a pack animal and will naturally respond when someone wants to do something with them. A cat does not have this and wants to decide for itself when to do what. If he prefers to stay in the windowsill when you want to train, it will be quite a challenge. You need to see if you can find a moment when your cat feels like doing something with you. In general, you can do this training with any cat. Young cats can sometimes be distracted and older cats often have more difficulty learning.
Because the cat can realize very quickly that he is getting a reward for showing a certain behavior, he shows this behavior more and more. You can reward your cat with a treat, such as a cat treat, piece of liver paste or a piece of sausage. If your cat isn’t such a big eater or is and you need to keep an eye on his weight, you can also reward him with something else. For example, you can reward him with petting or by playing with him. This way he knows that you appreciate the behavior and motivates the cat to repeat the behavior.
How it works
Some cats can become so captivated by clicking that you can teach them a lot. He has to relate the reward to the clicker. Click once and give it a treat right away. In the beginning he doesn’t have to do anything for it. If the cat is stroking your legs because it wants to eat, you can grab the clicker and feed it after you click. Since he must associate the click with the reward, do this within a second of clicking. Do not do this too often and too long in the beginning, the cat must continue to find it fun and interesting.
It is somewhat similar to the classical conditioning as in the Pavlovian reaction. Pavlov taught a dog that he was fed when he heard a bell. Eventually the dog started to drool as if at the sound of the bell, without seeing the food. This is also how it works when training the cat. If he associates the click with a reward, you can use the click to teach the cat something. When you click and your cat takes the desired action, such as listening to a command, you give it the reward. Ultimately, he knows that he will receive a reward for performing the act.
What can you teach a cat
There are cats that you cannot learn that much, but there are also cats that you can learn a lot, such as listening to a command such as sit, operating a light switch, retrieving a toy, crossing obstacles, to come to you when you call his name or go into the carrier.
Fearful and aggressive cats
Some animal experts use clicker training in cats that are anxious or aggressive. A frightened cat focuses on the object that scares it and is unable to change it itself. By letting him focus on an alternative, the fear will no longer hold him completely in his grip and the fear may diminish and eventually disappear. The same effect can be achieved with aggressive behavior. Because behavioral problems can be difficult to treat, it is often advisable to hire a cat behaviorist. When you try it yourself, you may actually start to stimulate the unwanted behavior.
Not suitable for everything
Despite the many successes achieved with clicker training, it is not suitable for all problems. You cannot remedy undesirable behavior such as spraying and uncleanliness with this method of training.