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Discussion Starter #1
So I know understand the clicker conditioning ( I think) . But how do you actually do the training?

For example...

To walk through a short tunnel, hoop, jump on an object... do you do something like coax him through by following a wand toy or treat while you say the word "tunnel", or hold the treat in your hand while trying to have him reach for it while saying "high five", then click/treat as he does the task?

Could someone give an example as I just described?
 

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I taught Bootsie how to turn.

She LOVES treats. So I held the treat and had her follow it into a circle and I said "Turn" while I did it. Now if I hold my hand up and slide it from in the middle of my body outwards pointing kind of off center and say "Turn" she turns, sits, and waits for her treat.

This is midway through the training. Now she's got it down pact. :)
https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150268129467450

I started "squirrel", where she stands on her hind legs (just sits up, not like stand stand). I hold the treat up and say "Squirrel" and she reaches for the treat then I give it to her. She's at a point now where I don't need to hold a treat at all.

Clicker training and target (I use touch) are important. Along with repetition and patience! I work at Petco so I often sit in their dog training classes one of my good friends and coworkers runs. He's helped me train my 11 year old cat. It's possible, just time consuming. Another thing to remember with cats is you cannot switch from one trick to another until the first trick is perfected, otherwise you're back to square one and you have a confused kitty!

Ratchet is now 5 weeks old. We trained him at 1 week to roll onto his belly when we scratch his back (potty reasons), and he still does it when it's time to "check his potties" to make sure he cleaned himself up well enough. He was also conditioned to climb into your hands if you place both your hands palm up on the floor. I had a few customers do that just to let him sniff them and was surprised he climbed into their hands and laid down. I had to explain he's trained to do that. Once he starts on treats we'll start some of the basics like turn, sit, up, down, leave it, etc. I think turn is by far the easiest trick to teach.
 

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There are a few methods you can use to teach tricks.

Luring is using something the animals wants (like food) to get them to do the behavior. Like following a treat in a circle.

Catching is waiting until they do the behavior themselves, and rewarding them for it. Then they'll gradually catch on and offer the behavior more often.

Shaping is having a goal in mind, like high five, and clicking/rewarding the very smallest steps until you get to the goal. Like just barely shifting their weight off one paw, then lifting one paw a teeny bit, then lifting it higher, higher, touching the paw to a hand.

I've found that the type of trick has a lot to do with which method you choose, and I've used all three methods with my cats.

I used shaping to teach Doran his high five. I 'caught' Jitzu high fiving me (I never taught her this, she watched Doran do it and thought she should get treats for hitting my hand too...lol). To teach them to sit I lure it the first few times with a treat, then just use my hand.

One thing to remember is that if you do use luring you want to stop using a treat in your hand as fast as possible. Otherwise they'll always need to 'see the goods' before they do the behavior. That's no fun. So the first 3-5 times use food, then do the same exact movement without food in your hand, and give them the treat when they've done the trick. They still get a treat, but they don't have to see it first.

If you want to start clicker training the first thing you need to do (other than get a clicker) is practice your reactions. Get a friend to help out and have them bounce a ball, or have your clicker with you while you watch tv. If you're using a ball click the exact moment the ball hits the floor, or for a bigger challenge, click when it's at the top of it's bounce. If you're doing this while watching TV click between scenes, in the split second before ads, and anytime you see an animal.

This will make sure you're clicking the exact moment the right behavior happens.

Once you've got the hang of the clicker get some small yummy treats, a box, and your kitten. Put the box on the floor, stand back, and wait.
Start by clicking/treating anytime the kitten shows any interest in the box. Then wait until they do something interesting, and click that. Gradually be pickier and pickier, until you've taught them a trick. This game uses shaping to teach your kitten what clicker training is about.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
But still need to say a specific word to associate a given behavior with the trick, right?
 

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But still need to say a specific word to associate a given behavior with the trick, right?
 

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You need to keep the command you say consistent, or a hand signal. I personally prefer hand signals (as I'm hard of hearing and use sign a majority of the time at home with communicating to my hubby). Boots knows sign in a way of signal cues for certain things. If I sign eat, she knows it's food time. Or 'ready to go' she knows I'm leaving and waits by the door to keep me from leaving. They're smart critters if you're consistent.
 

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The word, or hand signal, is a 'cue'. It's not added until the cat understands the behavior. Otherwise you're just babbling stuff at them.

Now, to be fair, I always spoke to Doran using the same word for the same things when he was tiny, so he 'gets' some of them. But that's pure repetition. He learned "Dinner" was food time, "Nuh uh" meant he'd been naughty, "No pretties" meant he wasn't allowed to play with my necklace or earrings. TBH even "no pretties" is too many syllables...generally shorter is better.

It's best if they all sound very distinct. For instance my parents dog knows all her toy's names and will bring the right one when asked. But she has trouble with "ball" and "bear" because they sound similar to her unless you enunciate very clearly.

The best way to add the cue is to wait until they know the action. Generally handsignals are easier to teach because luring easily leads into a hand signal. For example, when I taught 'sit' I used a lure held by my fingertips, palm up and moved the treat from the cat's nose up and back over their head. So now my hand signal is my hand out flat, palm up, moving upwards in a curve.
If you add a word you would still use the lure. The first few limes you would say "Sit", then do the action. After a few good ones (5-10) try saying "sit", then pause. If the cat sits awesome! Praise like crazy. Repeat a ton of times, if they don't get it quite that fast just pause, THEN lure the behavior. Better treats if they guess works too.
 
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