Karen & Ming

Yarn and fiber creative/maker, introvert, cat lady.

Big advancement, use of paw (just not on button) every time!

I apologize for being wordy! I'm just so excited! And I thought cat trainers, especially of ones being trained later in life, might appreciate detail.

As of tonight, Ming is letting me push a button up against her forefeet without pulling her feet away, and now tonight she's learned that a Treat won't be given unless she reaches with a paw and touches my fingers as they rest on the button *before* I press the button. And that's with the treat nowhere near my hand or the button! So, no scent or sight of one, it's all based on earning one.

Ming is motivated most strongly by playtime and treats. (Her daily meals are pretty ordinary fare, so although she has a Food button by her dishes, it's only modeled twice a day, and she's usually not that frantic to eat. Just insistent once I do indicate I'm feeding her. I speak and play the word Food and she knows the difference between me cooking for me, and getting her food out. So if she tries when it's not her mealtime, she's only mildly attempting to get food. But trying. Because, cat.)Β 

So I have buttons for her name- Ming, Pets, Play, and Treat. Lately she's watched the buttons more when I press them, so I figured it was time to start connecting her to them more. The only one of these I'm uncertain if she understands is Pets. Because although she always wants some pets, sometimes she's on her way someplace else and just doesn't stay to get more than cursory pets.

In the past I've taught her to touch the business end of a Cat Dancer toy that's lying on the carpet and get rewarded by immediate play for three minutes. That's not enough playtime for her, so, lather, rinse, repeat. She learned that particular action produced a result by my immediately reinforcing the reward, multiple times in a row. (Started with more minutes and gradually reduced the time so there'd be more chances for her to do the behavior.) Before I taught her this, she'd let the toy lie on the floor and ignored it and showed absolutely no interest in it. So this became a learned behavior and motivator which I ALWAYS rewarded and she caught on very quickly.

The past 2 or 3 days I've manipulated her foot to press a button. That's probably against the training guidelines. ;) I used the treat button while she was in my lap (which is her only hangout place all evening and most of the daylight hours.) I did it while she was lying down on me, and pulled her paw onto it or pushed the button up to her lifted paw. I pressed it down myself over/on top of her toes, including her in the pressing that way. N.B.: Ive been working to get her used to paw handling and toenail trimming for 2.5 months, so that's a prerequisite.

I also placed her paw and sometimes shifted her whole body so her paw was on the Food button at twice-daily mealtime. In both cases she resisted at first, but gradually got used to it. Of course I gave Food or Treats as appropriate.

I've also been nudging the buttons up against/between her paws on the floor. (Yes, i remove them from their button row to focus her on one or two. Also not in the training rules!) At first she hated them touching her paws but she got used to it and stopped backing away a lot sooner than i expected. She's super trusting of me. I've worn down several of her walls, including being picked up, being held, belly rubs, and being cuddled belly up. πŸ–€

Tonight I took this to the livingroom floor where her buttons are. I tried placing my first and middle finger on the button and not pressing it right away. Then placing her paw on my fingers and pressing. I did this with Treat because she knows a treat ALWAYS comes with the word, whether it's my voice alone, or the button alone.Β 

After a few times I stopped pushing her paw or the button and let my fingers rest there. It took awhile.... but Like with her Cat Dancer "play" action, she reached out and touched my hand! She got a treat and lots of praise, and we kept repeating it. She went from hesitant to very direct. Funny thing, she started adding a nip to my hand as well, so we took a short break, and tried "play." She didn't do the same thing.Β 

We went back to Treat and every single time, she reached out with one paw or the other to tap my hand. No more nipping, either. I'd push the button for the recording after she pawed me, but since i was super fast also reaching to the treat pack with my other hand to feed her the treat, and verbally praising her, i am not even sure she heard the button speak. This was all done while i sat in the recliner and reached to the floor, while keeping the treats out of sight in the recliner.

A few times in the past I've placed a treat on the button, but the LR buttons are domed and it just slid off, so I wasn't sure how effective that was at creating an association. Like all cats, the sound of shaking the treat pouch also triggers her running to me for a treat. I'm going to switch to using the button exclusively, not my voice alone or shaking+voice. I have a spare Treat button on a table beside the recliner and will also practice this in my lap. She is on a food diet (amount restricted but given whenever she wants it) to support all this extra feeding without weight gain.

This is awesome. From here on, it's just teaching her to associate a full press on it all by herself with the reward. Then her fighring out how to independently "ask."

This is my treat training pouch if you were wondering. She will leave it alone even if it's right next to her, although she could easily paw it open, but she runs to me at the sound of it being shaken. Silicone sounds different than plastic pouches i guess.
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Help changing profile name (it won't save)

Will someone from the webmastery side of things please change my profile name to

Karen & Ming

I've tried multiple times and can't get the Save Changes to work. It shows the change in Edit, but after hitting Save it shows Karen & Ming in greyed out letters. FWIW I'm on a Samsung S5e. Thank you!

Surprised dogs aren't being taught "GOOD"

I am surprised to not see GOOD among the main buttons listed as a concept.Β 

Wouldn't a dog motivated by approval, want to tell her human that she'd been good? That playtime was good? That a special treat (big one, not training treat) was good? What are your thoughts? (My learner is a cat and I'm not sure she'd get it as well as a human-motivated dog.)
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