In a website on dog training, what am I doing talking about cats, even if it is clicker training cats?
Here’s a video on clicker training a cat:
Here are a couple of reasons to clicker train cats:
- Many of us who live with dogs also live with cats. If we are into training, the dogs may get all the attention. Clicker training cats gives us something enjoyable and interesting to do with them.
- Some of the things you can teach a cat via clicker are well worth doing. Have you ever tried to get a cat out from under the bed because you needed to take it to the vet or someplace else?
One of the first behaviors often created in clicker training cats is to come on signal. Using the word “Come!” may also bring your dog and so is not nearly as good as something else may be. Also, cats–like dogs–are typically less responsive to your words than to your actions. Cats are not interested in you telling them what to do!
Many clicking cat owners indicate that they want the cat to come to them by rapping twice with their knuckles on the nearest table or other firm surface. Before you do this, have a treat in hand to reinforce your cat when it appears! You do use clickers with a cat in just the same way that you would with your dog, making the sound right when your pet does what you want.
Dog owners can learn something very useful from the clicker training of cats. For many years, a popular idea in dog training has been that we need to teach our dogs that we are dominant so that they will behave around us. The basis of this thinking derives from thinking of dogs as like their ancestors the wolves, and applying concepts of what researchers used to think wolf behavior was like.
Clicker training gets away from that whole way of thinking, and when it’s done with cats I doubt that even the most diehard advocates of the dominance training approach will think they are being dominant over their independent cats! In other words, clicker training cats helps us to see that the whole process of clicker training, no matter the species, is about two-way communication between mammals. Hmm, actually it’s used with non-mammalian species too, but I will leave that for someone else to explore! I’ll stick with mammals.
If you want to do some clicker training with your own cats, what better way to start than with a clicker training book from Karen Pryor, who really got the whole clicker movement going for domestic pets after using a whistle in her dolphin training. Here’s her book: