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The "clicker training" movement

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Has anyone tried this with their cats? Does anyone want to try this with their cats? Has anyone tried this, and unlike me, had success with it?

I thought perhaps I'd start a "journal" or thread about it to hopefully keep track of what we're doing that is successful, or in my case, completely unsuccessful...

Thus far I've had three sessions. The first one I didn't lock the other kitties up, and we had mass convergence on the treats. It seems rather impossible to associate the food with the click when you have multiple lunatics frantically trying to get at the food..

The second session, I tried to do while my son was down. I no sooner started clicker training and he pulled out the cat toys and started playing... so much for that clicker session.

The third session I put most of the cats in "lockup" so that I could concentrate on working with one (and possibly Bagheera too since she can't be locked up without me sustaining multiple and vicious wounds).. and while I had the attention for a moment, Khan then put up such a fuss in the carrier that he distracted the target (which happened to be Bagheera since I can't contain her).. from the training.

So, I'm now trying to figure out a way to make it easy to "concentrate" for the target cat. I have no particular room that I can use that can be closed off from the rest, and I have no really practical way to close the cats off (which leaves the rest subject to distractions).

So my next move is figuring out how to continue training (or technically, I guess that would be *start* training since I haven't been effective).
post #2 of 23
I am very interested at trying clicker training and will take a look at the book you suggested to me in my harness training thread. Where can I get the clicker from?
post #3 of 23
i did this w/a dog i used 2 have. worked great. havent tried it on the cats, tho.

my dog was a mess, tho and the trainer recomend to start w/something he was good at to train him 2 do it on command.

that may work w/the cats 2.

so if ur cats like to jump on a couch, click him when he does it and give a treat. then move him back 2 the floor. when he jumps back up later u can click him again and give treat.

after a while he'll jump to the couch whenever u click him. then u can start doing other comands that are harder 4 him now that he assciate clicks and treats w/his behavor.

good luck!
post #4 of 23
When training Keno for agility, I attempted "clicker training" - but either I or Keno never really got the hang of it; so it did not work for us.

Never tried it with the cats - if I can't do it with the dog, doubt I can do it with the cats
post #5 of 23
Shoot...if I tried clicker training with mine, there'd be one looking at me like I was crazy,the other would run and hide, and Miss Boo would try to take it away from me so that she could click it!! I don't think it would work with my girls,but I'd love to see what someone else could accomplish!!
post #6 of 23
I havent tried clicker training with Oliver, but he's pretty good with sign/verbal commands... I know basic american sign language so I've taught him things like cookie, food (which he associates with his wet food since his kibble's always available), water, fish (cuz he loves the juice from tuna cans - its only an occasional treat though ), come, up, down and no... cookie and food were the easiest and the first 2 I taught him... the others were a say and show the command then show him what to do, basically... obviously, he is still a cat and sometimes chooses not to obey, but I don't think I could ever get around that, hahaha... but when he say jumps on the dining room table the sign and/or verbal command for no and down more often than not gets him off the table quickly without picking him off and putting him on the floor....

Um anyway, a little off topic, but that's how I trained... as for the clickers, you can usually find them at the registers at petco/petsmart
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Or in the basic dog training sections.. I, however, ordered my clicker from www.clickertraining.com which is where you can also get the book, I believe. It's Karyn Pryor's site, and she wrote the book I read.

I do currently have a clicker (two actually) bought from PetSmart, but the problem is they're a little difficult for me to weild so I invested in the ones from the website.. I havent' received them yet, but they were a decent price (actually I think they were cheaper), but they're supposed to be much easier to work with.

From my understanding, the clicker training for dogs is the same basic thought, but a different application (or maybe that's vice versa), because apparently cats are a little more complex when being "trained".

The book talks about really cool stuff different people have taught their cat, but I haven't managed to get them to do anything more than touch the target (and eat the food), but the natural curiosity has them touching the target. I don't think they're getting the click-food association yet.
post #8 of 23
My youngest, Lucy, will come running whenever I click the laser light off and on, so I guess she's somewhat "clicker" trained. I like the idea of it because if I needed to get to her very quickly for some reason , she comes running. Now, my other two cats? That's a different story. My middle child, Moose, does very well with commands, so he may be open for training. The oldest, Rocky (8 yrs old), may not be trainable. I haven't tried.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
My undestanding of it (this, of course, comes from the book) is that it can be very helpful for getting cats into carriers, teaching them to walk on a harness, teaching them to relax for handling, vets visits, nail clipping (and supposedly even works with frightened and anti-social kitties). I'd really like to learn more on it, and try to work with my anti-social cat (and possibly even with some ferals and shelter kitties that need help)

Anyway, it's also supposed to help with behavioral problems in a number of different ways. Supposedly it makes it easier for the cat to communicate with you and improves the human-cat bond as well. So, we shall see if these small miracles happen, provided we can get past the initial problem...

So supposedly this is a really awesome thing (that and your cat learns really cool tricks).
post #10 of 23
I clicker train my dogs, and have for years. I love it, I won't use anything else. I've started clicking my cats, mainly just Smeggie so far, though Lemony and I are futzing with it as well.

You absolutely have to be in a quiet place the animal is comfortable with, with no other animals of distractions around. I put all my cats in the bathroom, and the dogs in the bedroom.

You have to spend a lot of time making the click=food association. I did multiple sessions of 2-3 minutes over a week. Click, treat. Click, treat. Then I started waiting for eye contact. Eye contact, click, treat. Eye contact, click, treat. Then I asked for longer and longer eye contact, then when I was standing, sitting, etc. You have to be clear about what you want, and click at the exact moment. Timing is everything. And you must always give a treat after a click (until the behaviour is constant, then you can wean it out).

After the initial click=treat training and eye contact, I took my crazy boston and did a short session with him. In twenty minutes I had him put a foot in a box, put both feet in the box, stand in the box, lie down in the box, and then I would flip the box over and he would put his front feet up on the box. A week later I set the upside down box on the floor for another session, and he ran right over and put his front feet on top of it. It's important to let them try and figure out what you want on their own, as they will retain it better, but if they get really stuck you can help them out a bit (patting the box and saying 'what's that?' or tossing a treat into the box).

Cats are much the same, I find. Smeggie is learning to sit. Then we will turn it into 'Rory Calhoun' (sit up like a meercat).

Clicking is so much fun and really communicates clearly to the animal what you are trying to achieve.
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm really excited about it, if I can just get past this one little snag .. hehe.
post #12 of 23
Originally Posted by CatsAreBetter View Post
I'm really excited about it, if I can just get past this one little snag .. hehe.
At first I was just crating the dogs, but they were still in the same room. It was still too distracting. They'd be barking and carrying on because I was paying attention to one dog and not them. I spent more time yelling at them than focusing on the dog I was working with. So I just started sticking them in the bedroom, they lie on the bed and look out the window.

It is good for confidence building, as you mentioned. My Syd the rescue girl is very timid about new things, she's very very worried about doing something 'wrong'. You do not correct Syd, she shuts right down. You also can't touch her to position her, as she'll freeze up. Clicking is perfect for her, as she can only succeed.

Syd in her box after a clicker session. She slept in it for about two hours, and all the next day would run to the box and sit in it, so I would give her a treat.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
how cute! What a doll!
post #14 of 23
i think luxor could do this - i would love for him to get into his carrier on command. stoli already does this.
post #15 of 23
Originally Posted by Renovia View Post
i think luxor could do this - i would love for him to get into his carrier on command. stoli already does this.
Oliver knows when we're getting ready for a car trip and packs himself, haha... I think it helps that I leave his crate out and open and he often takes naps in there... but it's sure nice not to have to fight a 15 pound cat (who thinks he's a lion) to get him into his bag
post #16 of 23
Moose will wait for me in the carrier when we have to go somewhere. If the door's closed, he'll patiently sit in front of it.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Mine all get in the carrier when there's no need for them to be...but the minute they need to be in there, they don't cooperate.
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Okay, so I ran into some trouble clicker training for not being able to seperate the cats effectively and single one out at a time.

What I did was... I took to "clicking" at meal time, right before I put their food down. Some of them know that click now means food. We bought a freezer, so now I've been trying to work with the cats from the top of the freezer (chest style).

Noel jumped up there when I told her up (with a little bit of work, and I wasn't using a target stick). She promptly didn't get the rest of the training exercises, though.

Last night, we had a breakthrough. The previously timid (or should I say always timid) Mau, Bagheera, got on board with click=treat, and touching the target stick, which often she had to walk to. She succesfully touched the target stick, often having to walk 3-6 feet, got clicked, and then got treats. She did it about five times. I'm going to practice with her again tonight, as well as the others. I think I need to review how to get her to touch the stick with her paw, though. We didn't successfully "sit up" to touch it with our nose either.

Small steps, though, but I think she did *really* well, and she was one of the ones I expected to "get" it, but not one that I expected to actually participate given her personality and level of shyness. I'm hoping eventually we can get her to walk into a carrier and all sorts of other things.

Anyone else having any luck or trying to clicker-train?
post #19 of 23
I'm clicker training Nikita. I do it mostly for fun and to give us something extra to do. She's a very active cat and needs a lot of stimulation so anything that helps with boredom is good.

I've taught her to stand up on two feet and to jump to places when I tap. She'll also jump between two chairs and now I'm working on sit and making her jump over a pole I'm holding.

We're sort of stuck with the pole now, she'll jump over it if it's low but if it's high enough so that she can go under it she will. She doesn't understand I'm asking her to jump over it. She just thinks she needs to reach the spot on the other side.

Anyway it's a lot of fun though.
post #20 of 23
Louie knows

(stand) UP
look at me
(on my) Lap
(on my) shoulder

and will walk beside me from the moment his harness is on to the front door. (Notice I did not say outside). I started when he was 2 months old so that may have something to do with his progress.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well, I did some more last night. Bagheera was trying, but she got ousted by the others, who suddenly all got on board with touching (basic touching, mind you) the stick. No one would do more than walk over to it. I couldn't get them to jump up on the freezer for it. I also couldn't get any of them to "stand" or "sit up" for it. The problem that I'm getting now is they're responding to the click and only one or two of them are actually getting treated for doing something.. (the ones that are doing what earned the click).

I need to figure out a way to work with one at a time.
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well, we haven't been working on it the last few days. Although, I do notice a difference in my shy little Bagheera's personality. She's definitely more outgoing. Of course, I've now taught them a bad thing in jumping to the top of the freezer, since they're now getting on top of the counters as well. Some of them already did that, but I'm seeing it from the ones that didn't do it before as well.

I have also noticed that on the somewhat rare occasion that they're not all milling about my feed every time I enter the kitchen around feeding time, if I call them (I've started using "meow meow"), and then click, it gets their attention and they come running.

I should work on this some more tonight.

Anyone else having any luck? How are things going for you guys?
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
We've managed to teach Pogue to "jump up" and touch the target stick, when it's on a wall. He'll stretch to reach it or he'll jump up to get it. Joyeux will also stretch to reach it as well. Pogue is the only one actually "following" it around, when I put it on top of things, or on a wall, or somewhere that he'd have to jump to get to.. and he's not doing it consistently.

Overall, though, I think they're doing pretty well, especially given the chaotic nature of our clicker training sessions.

I also have to figure out what to use for Khan as a reward. He doesn't eat treats. He won't eat anything but raw meat, and since that's what he gets fed, that's not really a treat.
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