Can’t you raise cats? Positive experiences with clicker training show that it works very well! The method is mainly known to dog owners, but more and more “cat parents” train their pets with commands such as “sit down”, “sit down” or “give a paw”. Remarkable: Even a visit to the vet, which many cats hate, can make training easier.
Jasmin Lindner is Germany’s most popular cat clicker trainer. In the interview, he reveals how even absolute newbies can get started with clicker training with cats!
© Jasmin Lindner
Most importantly, indoor cats benefit from clicker training, behavioral experts say. The explanation is obvious: in the human environment, curious animals are less exposed to stimuli. They therefore have a growing need for human employment.
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If cats are chronically bored, the worst case scenario is persistent behavioral disturbances that are difficult to keep under control. Clicker exercises can prevent this: they keep your mind fit by challenging intelligent animals over and over again.
Those who train regularly with their cats also guarantee better physical activity. Last but not least, joint activity naturally also creates a closer bond with the animal.
How do you get started with clicker training with cats? What do beginners need to get started? Jasmin Lindner answers the most important questions about this mindfulness-based training method.
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Cat-News: What Do Beginners Need To Start Clicker Training?
At what age can cats learn to train with the clicker?
In principle, there are no strict age limits in clicker training! You can train with little kittens as soon as they eat solid food. Cat elders also like to take part in my training courses at the animal shelter, but of course only as long as they want.
The great thing about clicker training is that you can customize the methods based on your age, illness or limitations. Eventually, almost any cat will have fun with it.
What is the best way to start training?
In the animal shelter we offer special courses for cat owners, because learning together is much more fun. Advantage: You know several cat clicker characters at the same time, because animals sometimes react very differently to training.
If you don’t have this option, there is one to start with Manual where the main features are clearly explained.
If you’re initially unsure, it’s also helpful to talk to someone who is already familiar with the topic.
© Jasmin Lindner
Behavioral Conditioning Using Clickers: Why It Works So Well
|Clicker training comes from the field of behavioral psychology and was in the 60s for conditioning of dolphins in Dolphin therapy developed. The Russian scientist is considered the “inventor” of the principle Ivan Petrovich Pavlov. As early as 1927 he had managed to get the dogs to behave in a certain way on command as soon as they heard a known noise.
In the meantime, it has been shown that even cats, generally considered to be rather stubborn characters, can be trained using the method. An advantage over other educational methods is absolute awareness: there are no punishments, on the contrary, animals are rewarded for desirable behavior. To have a learning effect, the exercises are repeated up to ten times per training unit.
Are younger cats better trained than older cats?
Oddly, in my experience there are no differences. Young cats sometimes have a little trouble concentrating in the beginning. They are easily distracted by all kinds of stimuli life has to offer them.
Of course, concentration can also play a role in training older cats. The ability to concentrate decreases faster after a certain age, this is normal. But this can be easily countered by training more often and for a shorter time.
How long should training sessions generally last? Is there a rough guideline here?
Five minutes is a good amount of time for a healthy, medium-aged cat. In general, it’s not easy for cats and dogs to focus on one thing for a long time. At the latest when a cat goes to charity more often during the training session, it’s time to take a break.
© Jasmin Lindner
Is it possible to train with multiple cats at the same time?
You can also train very well with multiple cats at the same time and it’s often a lot more fun! However, it can be a challenge to keep multiple pet cats busy at the same time. It is therefore useful to have some experience with the methods before this step. Because you also have to be a bit smart to reward all cats perfectly and promptly for the desired behavior, because otherwise the effect of positive conditioning wears off.
Is it possible to get a cat to continue if he is constantly distracted?
If a cat doesn’t feel like it anymore, all attempts are in vain. What you can try: Talk calmly or snap your fingers. However, it shouldn’t be clicked to get the animal’s attention! In general, it is beneficial to aim for the fact that in the long run it is the human being who determines the end of a training session, not the animal.
Clicker training is all about positive conditioning – should you give a reward every time as a reward?
The click sound serves as a kind of marker signal during training. As soon as it rings, it shows the cat that he has done something really great and right and that he has earned a reward. There are different points of view that there must always be a gift.
Personally, I find it absolutely fair and reasonable to reward a cat with a small treat after every desired behavior it has exhibited. Other rewards for advanced cats are also possible, such as a short, intense pat.
© Jasmin Lindner
Is it possible to eliminate the fear of the vet with clicker training?
This is also the important field of application in clicker training! Cats can learn that veterinary exams don’t have to be uncomfortable. For example, a cat can be taught to let itself be touched all over its body completely stress-free, or to have its claws clipped without any resistance. With clicker training, you can easily get rid of the transport box fear.
Is there anything you can do wrong with clicker training?
Any form of punishment has no place in training! Only positive reinforcement is used. Positive and desired behaviors are positively linked to clicking noise, as there is a reward immediately afterwards. Another behavior is best to just ignore it. It is important to be careful with the animal. Here it can be helpful if people also train their patience.
© Jasmin Lindner
Here you can download the manual “Clicker training for cats“to order.
Jasmin Lindner introduces clicker training for cats in the Animals Looking for a Home (WDR) program: