Learning is an essential part in the life of all mammals. The advantages of not having to recreate experiences over and over again, but having to resort to stored information, are obvious.
It is so important, even in our cats’ lives, that we are constantly learning: to distinguish the important from the unimportant, or signals that announce certain events, e.g. imminent feeding, homecoming of the human, or bringing in the kennel, which may indicate a possible vet visit.
Through other, important learning processes, Mieze links her own behaviors with the immediate consequences / consequences – learning from good and bad experience (learning to succeed) and trial-and-error learning. “If I take a close look at my people eating, then I’ll get something.” Or “If the reputation does not bring anything, and I put him on the pelvis, then I’ll get something.” Or “The food itself It was not a good idea to steal his plate. “Of course, cats prefer to learn from good experience and, if possible, succeed without any mistakes – who does not? In the field of cat education, positive encouragement through praise or treats is always preferable to learning from bad experience. Nevertheless, you can hardly do without a “No!”, Especially if it is for the cat
In the field of dog training, the so-called “clicker” has long been on everyone’s lips. This little frog enables us to achieve a positive reinforcement with pinpoint accuracy, once the cat knows what that sound means to them.
- Objective: Conditionally conditioning with Clicker
In order for the hitherto unknown click sound to become a reliable signal for the RewardDisplay: Direct to buy on Amazon, Mieze must link both stimuli together. The appropriate time is determined mainly by the cat by their receptivity to information and food. A calm atmosphere without disturbances and distractions supports their ability to learn. In this learning phase – without any requirements to the cat – clicked once and a half to two seconds later (!) Presented a treat or thrown. This is repeated about 30 to 40 times. If you click behind the back of your kitty after one or two days of exercises, and it turns right back to you, the first learning goal is achieved – classic conditioning is complete, the clicker-reward link is in place.
- Objective: operant conditioning
While it is now time for you to reinforce desired behaviors of your cat and put them under “command,” your cat will learn that she can influence the “click” and thus her own success.
For starters, it is best to choose a very light exercise, e.g. the “seat”. Just wait for your cat to sit down by chance and click right in the moment your popo touches the ground. She will come immediately to pick up her reward, so get up for it. This is completely normal; the “Click” reinforces and terminates a partial exercise or the behavior. Mieze will sit down later and get a “click” again at the right moment – and the reward. After some of these actions she will spontaneously and gladly sit down in front of her eyes – and get her reward.
Now you can slowly increase the requirements and “demand” a few seconds of sitting time before you click. If Mieze immediately gets up after sitting down, this is not commented on, but merely ignored. After a few tries, she learns that sitting down and sitting down lead to a pleasant success – “Click” and treat
- Shaping Behaviors: Some behaviors, such as sitting down, rolling / rolling or lying down, are spontaneously shown and, as such, can be amplified and coupled with a signal. For more complex behavior, e.g. “High Five” or “Lion / Tiger” (sitting down and both front paws up), you can wait a long time for Mieze to do it spontaneously and perfectly. Here it is more than helpful to first be content with a small approach to the desired movement and to reinforce it. Since your cat should learn to succeed, you must also enable her to continue playing. If the first, correct approaches to movement are carried out safely, then you can increase the requirements slowly. In the course of the exercises, the behavior develops, it is almost formed. As an example, here is the target, a stick (for example, pointer stick, chopstick), which is to touch the cat with the nose (possibly paw). It is perfect for “directing” or curling the cat later. At first you hold the target a few inches in front of Mieze’s nose. Curious, she will approach – and get a “click”. After a few repetitions, the target should actually be touched with the nose. If this works safely, then you will practice longer touches. Now the position of the target is changed, so that Mieze must move for a success; first only one or two steps, slowly more with sure success.
- Introducing a signal / command: Only now, if you were to bet on the sitting or the target touch of your kitty, it is appropriate to immediately before the signal, e.g. “Seat”, or “touch” or “tip” to say, for the execution of course again a “Click” comes. After a few repetitions, no more spontaneously shown behavior (sitting down) is clicked on, but only for the prompted, and the behavior “put under command”. Kitty will continue to sit down without a previous signal when she feels like it, but she will not get a reward for it. If you explicitly link the target nose of the cat nose with the verbal signal, you can use the target without “command” as a pure “please follow”. Insert sign “. The “tip” then announces the desired nasal contact to the target and the end of the exercise.
- Generalize / Categorize: Cats learn very easily when the surrounding conditions are as consistent as possible, but these conditions are then included in the learning content. That is, if you have practiced the exercises so far only in the kitchen and standing in front of Kitty, “seat” and “tip” there are quickly safe retrievable. Now she should learn that this is true even if you in front of or beside her, kneel, bend over her, or stand a meter away from her. And also that at other places, rooms, furniture, and at other times of the day, at your signal, she has the chance to earn a reward. Increase the requirements slowly: Do not become the same as the automatic feed machine, but solve each task separately.
- Sneaking Out the Clicker: If the cat is performing an exercise reliably, anywhere, and almost always (it’s just a cat, watch out for their motivation!) On the signal, the clicker may be “skipped”, i. it is no longer clicked every time for a successful exercise, but in between “only” verbally praised or just with treats. By such a change of the reward pattern, among others, i.a. Mieze’s “forgetfulness” and stamina influenced, especially helpful in “staying” -training (or waiting) – or even when begging. Even if the clicker is soon no longer needed, the cat should occasionally – at best irregularly – be rewarded, if only with a heartfelt praise. (Monika Binder)