Ten Reasons Why You Should Clicker Train Your Cat
Clicker training a cat is a lot of fun, and because of their size and agility, cats are perfect candidates for teaching the coolest tricks. Try getting a 70-lb golden retriever to sit on your back or jump through your arms, and you'll start to see the appeal of working with our perfectly-sized feline companions. But cat training extends way beyond fun behaviours; there are lots of practical benefits for training your cat. Here are my top ten:
1. Clicker training increases their physical activity
It's no secret that many indoor cats don't get enough exercise. Clicker training is an easy way to get your cat to start moving. Grab your target stick and point to the top of your cat tree, or scratching post. As soon as your cat jumps up, click and toss a piece of food across the room. By teaching your cat to jump on, off and over objects, you can work towards creating a cat agility course.
2. Clicker training works your cat's brain
Just like humans need to keep their minds sharp, so do our cats. Because indoor cats don't have to hunt for their food, they have little opportunity to strategize and problem-solve as wild animals do. Clicker training is an excellent brain game.
3. Clicker training will help your cat have a more restful sleep
We all sleep better after a hard day at work, but what about our cats? A dull day leads to a hyper cat in the middle of the night. Unlike playtime, which can get your cat more aroused, training helps wind your cat down. Training in the evening will give your cat a bedtime snack and tire them out so they will be ready for a restful sleep. Simple training games will help your cat sleep through the night so you can avoid those early wake-up calls.
4. Clicker training helps overcome boredom
Variety in your cat's meals is a good thing. Feline nutrition expert Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat, recommends rotating diets to provide complete and balanced nutrition. Variety in training rewards is also important – rewards will need to vary depending on the skill you are working on. For easy skills and tricks, dry food can work well but challenging behaviors will require a higher value treat; harder jobs require bigger pay checks. My favourite treats to use in training are freeze-dried treats like PureBites because they are healthy (i.e., a single ingredient), easy to break into small pieces and offer lots of variety. I reserve the lickable treat Churu Purée for the grooming behaviors, like nail trims. A recall outside amongst all the distractions earns my cat Temptations.
5. Clicker training teaches your cat practical behaviours
Going into carriers, sitting and waiting at a spot while you prepare their meal, and preventing door dashing are a few of the skills you can teach your cat with clicker training.
6. Clicker training strengthens the cat-human bond
Training together will change the dynamic of your relationship from roommates to teammates. Watch your furry team member get smarter while you become a better trainer as you learn how to communicate with one another.
7. Clicker training solves problem behaviour
To solve a cat's problem behaviour like jumping on the counter or door-dashing, we need to teach them what we want them to do instead. Usually, that means to stay at a "parking spot" while the door opens or while you are cooking. Foundation training is the first step to a cat that is attentive and responsive. Solving problem behaviour is simple once you have a cat that listens to you and knows the basics.
8. Clicker training is entertaining for friends and teaches your cat strangers are fun too
Party tricks are fun and will get your cat interacting with other people. Giving fist bumps to friends will make everyone's heart melt. If your cat is fearful of friends that come over, clicker training is an excellent ice breaker to help your cat learn that strangers also come with treats.
9. Clicker training helps cats overcome fears and build confidence
We can use treats to reward and increase courage. We can also use food to make positive associations with objects and people. Clicker training allows you to introduce your cat to new challenges slowly and respectfully building their confidence one click at a time.
10. Clicker training will make your cat happier
Watch your cat purr through their training session and become a happy, well-adjusted kitty. The time you spend learning together will be the highlight of your cat's day.
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