Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Clicker Training.

In class, we watched a video on “Clicker Training”. Clicker Training involves a clicker and a treat for reinforcement when training an animal.

Example: You want your puppy to learn to sit. When he sits down, you use the clicker to *click*, and give him a treat. The clicker helps him realize what he did to get a treat. Your puppy will learn that when he hears that Click, he gets a treat. When you add a cue, (saying “sit” when he sits) he will learn to sit on command. You must use treats as reinforcement, otherwise the puppy will not be motivated to do what you are training him to do.

Clicker Training can be used in veterinary fields in many ways. Clicker Training is much faster and more successful than simply using treats, so it can help with many behavioral problems, as in barking or attacking strangers quickly. You can train a dog to jump onto the exam table and then sit or lay down, or you can train a cat to stay calm when being administered medication.

Clicker Training can be used personally as well. You can train a fish to swim through a hoop, you can train a cat to use a toilet instead of litter, or you can train a nervous horse to load itself. Clicker training can be used for a wide variety of animals, ranging from lions to domestic cats to fish and ferrets. You can train any animal any trick that it is physically and mentally able to do. If you have a dog that jumps up on you every time you walk in the door, you can train her to stop. If you have a blind cat who keeps trying to get outside, you can train him to stop. The possibilities are endless.

My cat, Wynter, jumps onto the kitchen counter to lounge or when there’s food that she might like. My parents never mind unless they’re making dinner. (Or if there’s cookies covering every square inch of the counter with fresh icing on them). I plan to see if my cat is mentally able to learn not to jump on the counter when there is food on it. I do feed my cat on the counter when I make tuna, so this may be a difficult goal to attain.

Many of you might wonder why I won't simply stop letting Wynter on the counter at all, or stop feeding her on the counter. I want to see if my cat is mentally capable of deciding on whether or not she should be on the counter. If this proves to be too much for her, then I will stop feeding her on the counter. However, I don't want to take the counter away from her entirely, there are nice big patches of sun to lay in during the day.

I'm sure I will be posting updates on Clicker Training my cat, so keep checking back!

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