Cat Clicker Training for Shelter Animals.

Humane Society of Chittenden County I started clicker training my own cats (three very cherished HSCC alumni) about five years ago, after I saw a presentation at a conference. I was amazed at how quickly they learned and retained instructions; they now have a sizable repertoire of “tricks”- sit, high five, low five, “sit pretty”, and “play piano”, among others. In 2006, I began clicker training the cats at HSCC, using tips from other shelters that employed this method. The results were immediate and gratifying. Most cats were enthusiastic about the training, and responded in a positive manner. Clicker training in a shelter environment is a bit different than working with cats in a home; the focus is on having the cats come to the front of their cage, touching a “target” (I use a straw) with their nose or paws, or sitting up on their back legs for a tasty bit of tuna. The clicking sound effectively reinforces the desired behavior. The important thing is that the cats are having a good time interacting with a caring person. It’s a great way to provide mental and physical stimulation for cats that are in cages. Even shy and anxious cats seem to benefit from this activity; we’ve seen a number of them “come out of their shells” after just a few training sessions. An outgoing, friendly, and curious cat is much more appealing to a potential adopter, and clicker training certainly brings out these qualities in the shelter residents! I’ve been having a lot

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