Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Dog Training & Cat Training: How to Clicker Train Pets

by | Mar 29, 2020 | Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 2 comments

People often ask when to start puppy training, and training cats is no different. Clicker training pets offers a great way to teach pets to learn, think, and please you. Pets—and people—will repeat behaviors that reward them and naturally avoid behaviors that offer no benefit. Owners don’t have to be master dog trainers to use this technique, and dogs and cats learn quickly how to behave. You can even trick train cats!

training puppies

Shadow-Pup quickly learned an automatic “sit” to ask for anything he wants.

Everyone wants a polite puppy. But how does it happen? Polite behavior doesn’t develop overnight, and what’s cute in Junior-Dawg can become a problem when that 10-pound baby turns into a 60+ pound dynamo. Just imagine the potty accidents from a hundred-pound adult dog! (House training tips here.)

It may be cute for a little pup or dog to jump up. But if jumping up knocks down and hurts a kid (or Grandma!) that needs to be addressed. Learn about dealing with jumping up here.

Many folks delay training until it becomes a problem. But actually, puppies (and kittens) are little sponges that soak up lessons with little effort. Clicker training pets turns it into a game! An added benefit is the puppy or kitten figures how that HE controls the outcome. That’s empowering for the baby (or adult pet) and encourages him to think of ways to get you to do what he wants by guessing the good behavior you’ll reward. It also teaches your dog or cat to enjoy and eagerly look forward to training lessons because they become a game and way for you to communicate with each other.

clicker training cats

Young pups and kittens learn quickest, but any age pet can benefit from clicker training.

When to Start Puppy Training, Kitten Tricks & Adult Pet Training

My dog Magic learned using clicker training very quickly. By ten weeks of age, he performed “puppy push-ups” (sit-down-sit-down) on the local TV station. Bravo-Dawg also learned very quickly.

Seren-Kitty and Karma-Kat also learned to come when called, sit on command, and wave (and walk nicely on a leash!). Learn more about cat training here. Your puppy or kitten can learn just as easily, and in fact, dogs and cats are sponges eager for new things to learn. Give them a constructive way to spend all that energy.

clicker training cats

Kitty hate treats? Find a toy and use that to reward the cat during clicker training.

What Is Clicker Training Pets?

Clicker training lets your puppy or kitten stumble upon the behavior you want him to do. He will perform many “wrong” behaviors before he accidentally sits—and gets a reward. The pet figures out that he’ll get a reward if he can guess—and perform—the behavior you want. The more wrong behaviors he tries, the better he learns what won’t work. You don’t use commands or physical direction with clicker training, it’s all pet motivated, so the puppy or kitten never gets punished—but he’s only rewarded for the right choice.

Here’s how it works. Instead of waiting for your puppy or kitten to do something wrong, catch him doing something right. Mark that behavior with a distinctive signal so the pet understands that action (the sit, for example) is what you like. You can use a special word like YES! or a signal like the click from a clicker. The clicker simply explains to the pet he was right. Then reward him with praise, treats, a toy. Choose whatever floats your pet’s boat and reserve the most prized reward for these training sessions.

clicker training

Loud mouth cat? Teach kitty to “speak” on command with clicker training!

Explaining the “Click” When Clicker Training Pets

To speed up the process, trainers recommend you load” the clicker so that the pup quickly identifies the sound with a forthcoming reward. Here’s how to do that.

  • Fill a saucer with smelly treats. Liver bits, cheese, slices of hotdog or other strong scented morsels work best. My cats love cream cheese. Here are some other safe people foods for dogs. This isn’t about filling his tummy, so the tidbits shouldn’t be bigger than the tip of your little finger. You want the pup to appreciate the smell and taste and want more.
  • Get comfortable on the floor with the dish within reach but so the pup can’t access. Get a treat ready in one hand with the clicker in the other.
  • CLICK the clicker, and when the pet’s ears twitch or he otherwise comes to investigate, immediately give the treat. He won’t know why or care at first—it’ll be all about getting that next taste.
  • Repeat the sequence over and over. Always click first, then treat. Click-treat. And click-treat. Again, click-treat. Be sure he has a chance to swallow before proceeding to the next click-treat.
  • Very quickly, pets should look at your treat hand as soon as the click sounds. Eureka! That means his furry little brain has connected the dots and he understands that CLICK signals a treat coming for him.
clicker training pets

Reward natural behaviors — a paw offered gets a CLICK-TREAT! And then name the behavior and put it on command.

Pet Communication: Saying YES!

Once the pup understands what the click-treat sequence is about, you can use the signal to point out the behavior you like and reward with the treat. You simply wait for the puppy or kitten to plant his tail in a sit, for example, and immediately click-treat.

NOTE: Some sound-sensitive pets may find the clicker too loud. You can use the “snick” sound of a ball-point pen, or use your tongue to “click.” The sound should be unique and used specifically for training to cue your pet.

The pup may look confused. He’ll come to you, perhaps paw your leg, run around, trying to figure out what made the “click” sound. When he again sits, click/treat . . . and watch the wheels turn. After only two-to-four repeats, many pets figure out they control if they get a treat by their behavior.

Pets understand cause-and-effect (their action makes you click-treat) very quickly. Before long, your baby will volunteer all sorts of behaviors in an attempt to make you click and give a treat. He figures out that he can turn you into a treat-dispenser once he figures out what you want.

Pets trained using clicker training spend time doing just that–trying to please you.  Don’t you perform better when you anticipate being paid for a good effort?

Your turn–how do YOU train your pets? Do you use clicker training? Do tell!

YouTube Button

Subscribe to Amy’s YouTube Channel

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

2 Comments

  1. Judi Moyers

    passed the article on to the family members with new pups. Did I miss the name contest for dog and cat?

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Great, glad it’s helpful. Oh, and the contest launches tomorrow to the newsletter. 😀

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pets Home Alone? Back to School AngstAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] claws and teeth occupied. You can also teach your cats and dogs tricks to help keep them occupied, using…

Leave a Reply

Categories:

Recent Posts

Fear of Fireworks & Thunder? How to Calm Pet Noise Fears

Does your dog fear fireworks? What can you do for a cat or dog scared of fireworks? What about earplugs for dogs? Cats aren’t immune so New Year’s celebrations, Memorial Day (or graduation hijinks), July 4th fireworks, and thunderstorms can turn pets into shivery bundles of fur when BOOMS, bright lights, or even wind and rain noise fill the sky. Pets can be scared of all kinds of loud noises, and I get asked for advice all the time.

I share this information twice a year in time for July 4 fireworks, and the New Year fireworks. No matter the time of year, always pay attention to pet safety. . .

Cat Hairballs & Shedding: 7 Tips to Solve the Big Hairy Deal

Karma-Kat recently has “urped” up more cat hairballs, and I know why. I bet you didn’t know that in hot weather, cats lick and groom themselves to cool off. Of course, that can lead to more hairballs, so in hot weather or shedding season, you may see an uptick in these problems.

But swallowing lots of fur isn’t healthy, and hairballs are more than a nasty nuisance. Kitties that produce three or more hairballs a month should be checked by the vet to rule out other health issues.

Hairballs cause diarrhea, appetite loss, coughing, retching, constipation—or even deadly intestinal blockage. Cats have had hairballs as big as baseballs that require surgery to be removed! Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated. Refer to these tips to untangle your cat hairballs problems.

Tips for Adopt A Cat Month: Shelter Cats Rock!

I see so many kitten pictures on social media these days. Every June, we celebrate National Adopt A Cat Month (sponsored by American Humane Association) and also National Adopt A Shelter Cat Month (sponsored by the ASPCA. Two holidays wrapped up in one, and how appropriate, since June is kitten season.

But cats can be adopted year around. Both of our cats came to us as “dumped” kitties, showing up on the back porch. When you adopt from a shelter, though, you have the advantage of planning for the new kitty’s arrival. Any time is a good time to bring a new furry wonder into your life. Whether you adopt a shelter cat, foster a kitten, or adopt a cat that shows up on the doorstep, they’re all worthy of love. Right? Here’s my tips guide for cat adoption…

Safe Hot Weather Games for Pets: Keep Cats & Dogs Cool in Hot Weather

Yikes! It’s hot-hot-hot here in Texas. We’ve hit triple digits already. Shadow-Pup is NOT happy. He misses his ZOOMIES in the back garden, but I’m afraid to let him overdo too much. It’s time for hot weather games for pets and keeping cats and dogs cool in hot weather. This year, I’ve invested in more indoor fun for Karma-Kat and Shadow-pup, some with the help of pet products companies sharing neato-torpedo products. Here are some of my favorite pet hot weather games, including Tearribles, Purrini, and LifePro Dog Treatmill (giving some schtuff away!).

What kind of cat toys float your kitty’s boat?  Do your pets enjoy water fountains? Would your hot dog relish a cooling bed, or a wading pool? I offer some more hot weather games and tips in the ASK AMY video, below.

And for a flash from the past, enjoy the Magical-Dawg video of some water fun. I need to get that doggy tub out this year and see if Shadow might indulge.

How do your dogs deal with the weather? Please share your tips for keeping hot dogs cool customers!

Fearful Fido? Know the Signs of Dog Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS)

June is Pet Anxiety Awareness Month. Do you have a fearful Fido? Do you need help with the fireworks and loud thunderstorms happening this time of year that makes dogs scared? It seems silly, but some dogs feel stress when their human wears a hat! I wanted to share some resources for recognizing and understanding signs of canine fear, anxiety, and stress.

While it’s normal for dogs to be cautious and not run head on into traffic, too much stress and anxiety isn’t healthy. Fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) also affect the immune system, impacting both physical and emotional health.

Up to 20 percent of dogs will be born prone to introversion and fear. Proper socialization improves puppy confidence, but abuse or poor socialization can result in anxiety-ridden adults. Pain or illness also can cause anxiety so these dogs associate certain kinds of handling with discomfort. Ongoing anxiety, stress or fear may lead to fear aggression.

Extreme fear interferes with learning, making it even more difficult to help dogs overcome the angst. Fearful dogs quickly recognize that escape behaviors or fear aggression makes the scary situation go away, so they learn to repeat these behaviors…

Chewy Once a Year Blue Box Event: Pet Products Savings for Your Special Pets

Y’all may notice something different about my blog–yes, it’s been spiffed up, thanks to a fantastic web designer! Seems the perfect time to celebrate with some great opportunities for your pets. Once a year, Chewy price drops all kinds of pet goodies in their Blue Box Event–good from June 21 through June 24, so don’t wait. Stock up on all the must-have dog products and cat essentials, as well as pocket pet supplies. Oh, you’ll find way too many bargains for me to list simply by going to this Blue Box Event link. But here are some of my favorites. Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat put in their orders. Shhh, keep it a secret or your fur buddies may swipe the credit cards and have a fun time!

Get a $25 eCard Gift Card when you purchase $75 worth of select pet products favorites.

Up to 50% Off Select Toys During Chewy’s Blue Box Event.

Up to 50% Off Select Disney During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Up to 30% Off Once-a-Year Pet Parent Deals During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Learn about more savings…

Small In Show: Calling All Pocket (and other ) Pets!

Why do dogs and cats get all the love? Well… they deserve it, but so do the #SmallInShow contenders, as Rainn Wilson says. “Small pets are truly overlooked. Everyone goes straight to dogs and cats. But Kaytee is out to show that these little creatures have big personalities and are just as worthy to be part of your family. That’s something that was easy to get behind,” said Rainn Wilson.

No, I’m not compensated to share this. It just tickled me, and we all need some giggles these days. Back in the day, I loved my hamsters Whiskers, Snowball, and Cinnamon, and the first pet article I ever sold (for real live dollar$$$) detailed the story of my rescue parrot, Venus, a spectacle Amazon. Pocket pets deserve the love, too.

Besides, I miss attending Westminster, and certainly understand where Rainn comes from in his disappointment. Enjoy this fun MOCK-umentary from Kaytee. The company is launching its inaugural #SmallinShow Award Show, inviting pet parents of hamsters, bunnies, mice, birds and other small companions to share images and stories of their mini heroes across social media. The #SmallinShow Award Show will culminate with the crowning of three winners who will each receive a one-year supply of Kaytee products….

Work Goes To the Dogs & Cats: PSI’s Take Your Pet To Work Week!

Today, it’s PSI’s TAKE YOUR CAT TO WORK DAY! At my house, every week is Take Your Pet to Work Week. This year, it falls on June 20-24, with the CATS’ day on Monday, and the DOGS’ day on Friday. For many folks who continue to work at home, they experience the joy–and challenges–of work with furry companions 24/7.

Created by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to help promote pet adoptions, this week celebrates the 24th anniversary of the event. I’ve written about this nearly every year, so you’ll recognize some of the pictures in the blog.

This year, of course, we have a new dog, Shadow, helping us celebrate. And we’re still navigating a new “normal” after losing our beloved Bravo following his cancer diagnosis. You’ll see some pictures of Bravo with Karma and Shadow, below, as I can’t bear to remove them just yet…after all, he’s still one of my Furry Muses…

Heatstroke Dangers: Pet First Aid for Hot Weather Play & Travel

These hot summer days, Shadow loves to run and play outside, but the hot weather can lead to heatstroke dangers in dogs as well as people. This week, we topped the thermostat at 101 degrees, and it will continue to hover near three digits all week long. Fun in the sun can quickly turn to tragedy if pet owners don’t take precautions to prevent cat and dog heatstroke dangers. Pet heatstroke is common because cats and dogs can’t effectively keep cool in hot summer weather. It becomes especially dangerous during summer travel in cars. Here’s how to save your pets’ lives if they overheat…

How to Prepare for a Disaster: Pet Preparedness & Tips

With the latest hurricane on the way, it's time to revisit your pet disaster plan. You do have one, right? After Katrina and Harvey, everyone should understand the importance of disaster preparation. June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and in the fall, September...

Visit Amy’s Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This