Andra K

Better with robots!
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Cat servant belonging to Dempsey & Belle.

Clicker training and cats

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Β I introduced clicker training at the same time as the buttons and our cats picked up really quickly on clicks = treats. We're slowly getting more consistency on button pushing although it's not perfect but the funniest thing is that if one cat doesn't get the button pushed properly and I don't treat him, he tries to push the clicker button in my hand himself.Β 

I put it on the floor yesterday to check if he wanted to tap my hand or the clicker and he alternated between the button and the clicker! They can be so smart sometimes that it's hard to keep up with them.
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Cats using sign language to communicate with deaf owner

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Who can resist a signing cat on the internet?Β 


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Introducing myself, Dempsey and Belle

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Hi, I'm a recent convert to both buttons and clicker training, with two grown cats. Belle the female is very shy. Dempsey the male is very active and chatty. He really needed a more active playmate and he was too boisterous for Belle's tastes, although she was raised with a brother cat. I got Fluent Pet buttons and cat training clickers for Christmas and after doing my reading got started just before the New Year. Within a day, I discovered that Dempsey is smarter than I ever thought and he became a clicker monster! I'm modelling "Let's Play" on a button whenever we have a training session and now whenever I get up for a cup of tea, he races over and sits next to the "Let's Play" button. If he doesn't get trained 2 or 3 times a day he get's mad.Β 

We started with the Outside button idea - but the cats have a cat door so they weren't that motivated. I introduced "Play" and "All Done" next as recommended.

I'd never found a treat that motivated either cat before but the Temptations pods motivate both of them really well. (We've also stopped free range feeding. I measure out the right amount of daily food each morning and it's doled out at intervals. With an extra allowance if they're training or 'hunting' for it over night.) In the past we'd tried all sorts of cat toys and feeders and the cats have never played with anything more than once or twice. Now they both work at simple cardboard puzzle boxes and I'm teaching them (with the clicker and rewards) to roll a puzzle ball around. We're working up to the Doc and Phoebe hide'n'seek food mice.

But just the fact that Dempsey worked out that if he went where the green ball at the end of the clicker training stick was, I'd click and give him a treat. Well after two days he was jumping up and down, coming to me where-ever I was, sitting up and begging. It was amazing, but also kind of backfired. I've also spent a lot of time working on button pushing to get him to bat at it with his paw and he started batting at the button when I had the target on it. But then he started just going for the target wherever it was, without any queue behavior. If he sees the clicker stick now he follows it every where batting his paw at it. The button, not so much.Β 

He sits there after each session just staring at the buttons trying to work out what I want him to do. He keeps experimenting for a few minutes after each session, so I know he's thinking about it hard. I'm now focusing on getting him to play chase or hiden'seek with the clicker stick for a couple of minutes, then putting it away and just trying voice prompts and modelling and pushing the button myself. Two days ago he twitched his tail and whirled around and pushed "All Done" and walked off. I swear he meant it. However, since then just lots of ineffective batting at it and a frustrated cat.

I put out a catnip button and a brush button because he loves both those things and I'm hoping that gives him the idea button = something. It's slow slow going but I can't believe how much more our cat is trying to communicate with us. I thought we were teaching him tricks but it's something much bigger. Last night, I wasn't expecting much from the button so I didn't bother sitting down for training. I pushed the Let's Play button with my foot instead but then Dempsey straight away pushed it with his foot and it worked! Clicks and treats!Β 

And then straight back to batting weakly at the buttons and chasing the green target stick all over the house. So that was a long intro but it's been a big couple of weeks. How do other people manage training in a two cat household? Do you need total quiet or does one cat learn from watching?Β 
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