Clicker training is a positive reinforcement method of training. Studies have shown that animals respond best when an action is followed by a reward. The animal is therefore more likely to perform an action if they believe it will be followed by something good, such as a tasty treat. In clicker training, the clicker makes a sound and marks the desired behavior. After the clicking sound is made the animal receives an especially yummy treat as a reward.

A clicker only needs to be used during the training period. With practice and repetition, the desired behavior eventually becomes habitual and there will be no need for the clicker. Treats and praise on the other hand should continue to be used and will always be appreciated by your pet. 

If your cat is sensitive to sound, get a Soft Click clicker or try placing the clicker in your pocket or wrapping it in something that will muffle the clicking sound. A ballpoint pen is another option, or forget the click altogether and say “yes” as the marker.

If your cat is treat motivated, make sure to use especially yummy treats as rewards. Try rewarding with bits of deli turkey rather than using pieces of your cat’s kibble. 

When feeding treats as rewards to your cat, make sure they are just little bits. Rewards are given regularly during clicker training and it is important to prevent your cat from gaining any unnecessary weight. 

If your cat isn’t food motivated, try giving another reward. For example, if your cat loves to play with a specific toy, try implementing short play sessions after the clicking sound. In clicker training, a reward is defined as something your cat loves or desires, it doesn’t necessarily have to be food. 

The trickiest part to clicker training is capturing the exact behavior you want with the click. But don’t worry, making minor mistakes won’t end up interfering with the training in the long run. Be as precise as you can and don’t forget to have fun while doing it! Training is a fun bonding experience for you and your pet!

If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email behavior@anticruelty.org.

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