Training your cat may seem like an impossible task. After all, it’s not often you hear cat owners asking their cats to sit, heel or roll over. While your cat will almost never respond like a dog, some vets and animal behaviorists believe your strong-willed kitty can be trained to do some things – and one of the most effective training tools is a clicker.
A clicker device clicks audibly when pressed, and can be used to create associations with a wide range of tasks, that your cat can learn over time.
If you’re going to use a clicker, it’s important that your cat gets used to the sound of it before you attempt any specific training techniques, click the device and wait for the sound to catch your cat’s attention.
Once you’re sure the cat recognizes the sound and that it is coming from the clicker in your hand, reward your cat with praise and a small treat. Repeat this process consistently to build a positive relationship between the clicker and your cat’s positive response to it.
Once that relationship has been established, the reward can slowly be removed from the process and the clicker will be enough of a reward. At this point, start to associate the clicker (and different clicks) with different commands.
For example, if you call your cat to ‘come,’ and they do, click the clicker.
This will set the tone for associating the command with the clicker and the process of coming towards you.
You can also use this for mealtimes, or for getting your cat to come outside with you.This can also be used in tandem with your cat’s name – which research says they know, but choose to ignore.
Inevitably you may find that the clicker may not even be necessary if your cat begins to answer to their name, but it can be an important support for getting your cat’s attention and their understanding that you require something from them.
If you’re struggling to get into the swing of using the clicker, consult a cat behaviourist for some tips that work for your cat and his or her unique personality.