Target training and clicker training are some of the more effective techniques used in training cats.
This is where you attract your cat’s attention and then obtain desired behaviors through the use of a designated tool such as a training wand.
This is a form of operant conditioning. A ‘clicker’ is a small mechanical device which you use to make a short and very distinct clicking noise. The clicker is clicked at the precise moment that the cat performs a desired behavior. For example, for the ‘sit’ command, the clicker is pressed at the exact moment your cat places it’s bottom on the floor. Directly after the click, the cat is fed a small and tasty treat.
As this is repeated over and over again, the cat will start to associate food with the clicking sound and recognize that he can earn treats by performing the actions based on the specific commands.
A few quick tips for training cats properly
- The key is patience. Your cat is unique and will have its own abilities and likes and dislikes. Make allowances for his personality, and don’t lose your temper if it doesn’t go exactly according to schedule.
- Implement a schedule for mealtimes. You shouldn’t leave food out at all times for your cat to eat as and when it feels like. Increase the reward-value of food treats as training devices and introduce routine into your cat’s life.
- Train smart. Schedule training sessions for just before mealtimes. Your cat’s natural desire for food at his regular mealtime will sharpen his focus and increase his desire to obey you.
- Take baby steps when training your cat. As with all training, the most effective way to teach your cat is to get the basics right first before moving on.
- Training lessons should be kept short and exciting and should end positively.
Training cats: the ‘sit’ command and training your cat to obey
‘Sit’ is the perfect first command to train your cat to do as it acts as a foundation to build upon for other commands and tricks such as ‘stay’ and ‘high five’.)
Make your training wand extra-effective by smearing the tip in a little tuna oil, and use it to attract your cat’s attention. As he comes closer to you, hold the wand slightly above and behind the back of his head around the crown area.
In order to keep his eyes on the wand he will move his head backwards. Doing this will force him to sit down naturally. As he sits down, say the word ‘Sit’, which will be the verbal cue for this command. As soon as his bottom touches the ground, click the clicker. It’s important that you time this precisely.
As soon as the click sound is heard, give him a tasty treat. Make sure it’s cut up very small – if it takes him more than two seconds to eat it, he’ll forget why you gave it to him.
You’ll want to duplicate this exact training consistently over a couple of weeks until your cat’s performing the desired behaviors with ease. Once he is sitting down on command you can start to phase out clicker training but still give treats now and again. Just remember patience and consistency are key.
More information on training your cat
For step-by-step advice on how to train your cat in a huge variety of other obedience commands and tricks check out our Complete Cat Training Review.