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 ARTICLES > Clicker Training > Faq's On Cats And Shelters
  Clicker Training  Article:
Article By: Karen Pryor Website - http://www.clickertraining.com       

Do I need to condition the cat to the clicker before starting?

There is no need to ícharge up the clickerí or to go through any conditioning process before beginning to teach behavior. Cats easily condition to the clicker on a single click; in fact it is better to start right away, as soon as the cat is confidently eating, by looking for a behavior to click. That way the cat discovers from the first session that its own actions cause the click to occur. It is this discovery that makes the clicker process exciting and mentally stimulating for the cat.

What happens if more than one person is clicking in a room at the same time?

Several volunteers can work in the cat room at once; the cats will not be confused; they can easily tell which click comes from the person in front of them. Or one person can click several cats in sequence, rotating between them. The cats will be quite excited, waiting for their turn to come again. This draws in non-responsive cats as well.

Isnít it true that some cats arenít interested in food? The cat I was working with stopped eating and walked away after two treats.

If a cat refuses to eat, or backs away after a couple of responses, move on to another and come back later. Withdrawal does not mean the cat doesnít want the food, or doesnít like clicker training, or doesnít like you. It simply means the cat feels confused by this new event, and needs a little time to absorb whatís happening.

A shy kitty that wonít participate might get left out; isnít that unfair?

Many people naturally gravitate to the cats that donít participate. They sympathize, often even vocalizing that those other cats are getting something nice and this poor cat is being neglected. The tendency is to give special attention and free treats to the poor thing. This of course reinforces withdrawal. It is better to let that cat alone until it makes some movement forward, and then click and treat for even a faint sign of voluntary activity.

I know this cat isnít fat, heís just a big cat; and besides, he doesnít like treats. How can I click him?

Obese cats may not respond well to treats. It is not that they donít ílikeí food, but just that they snack continually if food is continuously available, and thus have no room for even a taste of tuna. Remove all food for two hours before clicker class. You can go back to overfeeding him after the session, if you wish.

What if the cat ignores people altogether? Arenít some cats naturally aloof?

Some cats, even cats that have lived in households for years, are not properly socialized to humans. The giveaway is that they donít make eye contact. Click for eye contact with these cats. After the cat has learned to make eye contact, give it a temporary name, and whenever you happen to be passing, call the cat and click for turning toward you. This simple procedure, teaching eye contact and a name, can transform the catís universe, or at least its view of the universe. (P.S. It also works for dogs.)

Doesnít the training have to be consistent? What if more than one person trains the cat?

The more different people click and treat each cat, the more powerful the learning will be. Even if the people arenít clicking for the same behaviors, if they all know enough to click first and then treat, the cat will learn that many people have merit to them and are worth interacting with. This is clicking as communication, for information rather than training. Having this information can make the cat far more adoptable.

We donít have to teach adopters how to use the clicker, do we? We donít have the time or the staff and they donít want to train their cats anyway, they just want a nice pet.

Adopters donít need to learn to ítrainí; they just need to know how to say "Click!" to a cat. A cat that already understands the click will understand a click in a new environment. The cat will respond, immediately and positively, to the person doing the clicking. Itís a shame to waste that bonding opportunity!
Show potential adopters how to hold and click the clicker, and how to feed a treat. Send them home with a clicker and some instructions (a Clicker Fun Kit for Cats makes a great going-home present.) If all they do is click and treat just a few times in the

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