Trick Training for Cats
Trick Training for Cats
From click to trick
The tricks described in this book will be taught with the help of clicker training - a fascinating technique to make your cat understand what you expect from her. She will be motivated to carry out other actions by means of the clicker training.
The most important training tool that you need is the clicker. It is the kind of cricket toy which makes a sharp, short sound when you press down on it. These days you can easily get a clicker either from a pet shop or on the Internet. They come in different forms and colours and - this aspect is important for your cat - in different volume levels. The quietest clicker that I know of is the so-called I-click, which was developed by the clicker pioneer Karen Pryor.
You can also employ other sounds as an alternative to the clicker, for example the clicking sound of a biro pen. However, whichever clicker you choose to use needs to fulfil two criteria: it should always sound the same, and it must not be a sound that the cat hears constantly outside the training sessions during her day-to-day experiences. Unless you click your tongue to call your cat or tell her that food is ready (which is something a lot of people do), I would recommend the tongue-clicking sound. Clicking with the tongue is well-suited as a clicking sound and offers two great advantages: you will have your hand free because you don't have to hold the clicker, and you can also click your tongue spontaneously outside training sessions.
Clicker training tools: different target sticks, selection of titbits, clicker hoop, small titbit can, and pouch. (Photo: Nissen)
Do you have problems clicking your tongue?
In this case, try to make a loud kissing sound - a real smacker - this creates a similar sound.
It is time to proceed with the first practical exercise. However, in this first exercise you don't use the clicker on your cat. Instead, try it out with another person. Invite your partner, a friend or your child to play the clicking game - you can promise them a lot of fun without investing too much!
The clicker game works as follows: imagine an action that your game partner should carry out. Start with something simple: to sit on a specific chair; to touch the window handle; to touch the light switch. Do not tell your game partner what you expect from him/her, but ask them instead to figure out by themselves what you want them to do by trying out a number of different things. Use the clicker as a helpful aid. Explain to your partner that the click means: 'Great, you are on the right track' and that you will not speak to him/her in any other way, nor are you allowed to give them additional hints. You will point them towards the right goal solely by means of the clicker.
Touching the light switch, for example, could proceed as follows: your partner looks or moves in the direction of the light switch - click! He/she looks in another direction - no click. He/she looks roughly towards the light switch again - click! He/she moves a leg to step in the correct direction - click! Another step - click! However, if he/she moves past the light switch and through the door - no click. He/she asks: 'Shouldn't I go this way?' You smile in a gentle manner, don't say a word and wait for the next opportunity to click: he/she turns around - click! If he/she now walks past the light switch in the other direction -no click! He/she turns around again - click! He/she is now limited to the space near the door frame and touches it with his/her hand - click! He/she touches the door frame again at the height of the light switch - click! If he/she touches the doorframe much higher than the light switch - no click! He/she touches the doorframe again at the same height as the light switch - click! He/she mov