Why You Need A Target Stick To Train Your Cat

Why You Need A Target Stick To Train Your Cat

What is a target stick?

Target sticks are popular items in the animal training world. From zoo animals to domestic animals, they are a helpful tool to move animals through space without physically forcing them. For our purposes, it's a clear signal to move a cat from one place to another.

The Cat School target stick

The target stick we offer through Cat School has features that make it easy to train your cat. The clicker built into the body of the target stick allows you to quickly mark the behaviour without having to fumble for a separate clicker, while the telescoping stick allows you to change the length depending on the skill you're working on and the step you're at in your training. You can phase the stick out when your cat is ready for a visual signal instead.

Why should you use a target stick?

Here are five reasons why you need a target stick. Using the target stick, you can:

  1. Have a clear signal to move your cat from one point to another
  2. Guide your cat willingly into a carrier or backpack
  3. Teach fun tricks such as the food stall
  4. Help a shy cat overcome their fear of strangers. You can use the target as an icebreaker with strangers by providing a constructive way to interact
  5. Tire your cat out before bed. Grab the device and get your cat moving around the room like an agility course

Here are three different ways you can train your cat to nose target & then learn to follow the target stick:

Method 1: Pointer method

This method aims to show your cat that they will find a piece of food whenever they approach the target stick. With your cat slightly distracted or a few steps away from you, place a treat on the floor. Point to the treat with the target stick. When your cat approaches the target stick to find the treat, click and place another treat down close by.

Pointer method

Now PRETEND to put a treat down: when your cat approaches the stick, click and then place a treat down right in front of them. Do several sessions and repetitions of this.

If your end goal is to raise the target stick, you can slowly raise it at this step. If they are having difficulty "seeing" it, place your hand near it or behind the ball end to help them recognize it.

Method 2: Treat ball

Take a little ball with some holes, stuff some treats around it and then place it on the end of the target stick.

Treat ball method

Present the target stick with the ball on the end to your cat. As soon as they touch the ball with their nose, click & reward with a treat from your hand.

Once they are confident touching & following the big ball on the end of the target stick, fade out the big ball, so they follow the smaller ball on the end of the target stick.

Method 3: Lickable treat

Dab a small amount of a lickable treat or wet food to the tip of the target stick.

As your cat approaches the tip of the target stick, click and reward them by letting them lick the treat from your hand. Repeat until your cat is confidently approaching the target stick.

Gradually reduce the amount of treat you put on the end of the stick until there is no treat and your cat is following the stick in anticipation of the treat from your hand.


My cat is biting the target stick: in this case, you need to click sooner as your cat approaches the stick instead of getting up close to bite it.

My cat thinks the target stick is a toy (pawing, playing with it):go back a step and build their food motivation, finding a treat they LOVE. You can also work on jumping using the target stick - use the target stick to point to a chair or platform you want your cat to jump on, which forces their paws to be on the ground when they are near the target stick.

My cat is losing interest in following the target stick: the ability to follow a target stick for an extended period will come with practice and reinforcement that the target stick leads to treats and fun games. Don't go too far too fast! Take your time with smaller distances, so your cat is reinforced a lot at the beginning.

Watch the video tutorial:

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For a monthly fee, you'll gain access to courses, community & support. Courses cover a variety of topics:

An introduction to training covering how cats learn, developing food motivation in your cat and how clicker training worksFoundation skills that every cat needs to knowTraining with multiple catsTricksHarness trainingLeash walkingTrimming nailsSolving various problem behaviours

Community-wise, you can post updates, support other community members, and receive feedback on your training from Julie the Cat Teacher, an accredited animal trainer who provides one-on-one support as you work through your courses. Cat School is here to see you & your cat succeed! 

You will be billed once a month on the date that you initially signed up.

Every customer who places a subscription order can view and edit their subscription at their customer portal. This is accessed through a link contained in every subscription email. 

Before being billed, you'll receive an email alerting you to the upcoming charge, as well as an email after you've been billed to confirm.

You can cancel your subscription at any time by clicking on the link contained in your billing email and cancelling through your customer portal.

Once you purchase the membership, you'll receive an email with instructions on creating your account (a one-time process). Once your account is created, you can log in at http://cat-school.mn.co

No, access to all the courses is included in the monthly subscription fee. This allows Cat School students to maximize what they can train at once. 

Yes, one of the perks of our platform is that it allows for easy updates, including the option to be notified when new content is added. 

You bet! Cat School runs through Mighty Networks, which delivers the content through both iOS and Android. 

The course is set up with a focus on community, so you can post your questions in the course and get a prompt response from the Cat Teacher. We prefer questions to remain in the course so all students can benefit - if you have a question, it's likely someone else does too! 

Absolutely, check out this video to see an example of what the membership looks like. Cat School Membership

Curious as a cat? Our online membership has no contract, so If you decide it's not for you - no problem! Just cancel your subscription before the 30 days are up. After 30 days, your credit card will automatically be charged the monthly subscription of $25 USD.

Meet Your Teachers

I'm Julie, the cat teacher, and this is my assistant, Jones. Our goal is to create cat training tutorials that are fun and easy for EVERY cat to learn. Thousands of students have learned from our clicker training lessons and proven that not only are cats trainable but that they love the enrichment and activity that training provides. We can't wait to see you show off all the skills and tricks your cat learns at Cat School.

Julie Posluns, Applied Animal Behaviourist (ACAAB)

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