Tag Archive | "reward"

Using Noise Aversion to Train Your Cat

While it is commonly believed that cats are very independent and dogs are much easier to train than cats, it’s not really true. Using the right techniques, cats are easily trained. They may not roll over and sit or lay, but you can deter them from problem behavior with a little persistence. As with all animals, they respond to rewards, but occasionally, some sort of punishment is also necessary. This should not be harsh punishment, but can be as simple as using noise aversion to interrupt bad behavior. Obviously, if you hit a cat, they will stop clawing the carpet or furniture, but that is unnecessary punishment.

Noise aversion is very effective as a deterrent to bad behavior in cats. Some people invest in a clicker and use that to make noise. Others put pennies in a jar and shake it when their cat is misbehaving. Anything that creates a loud, startling noise will work fine.

The loud noise of a clicker or other device will annoy a cat, but doesn’t harm them. You can pick up a clicker in most pet stores, or as previously mentioned, just shake a jar of coins when the cat is misbehaving. The cat will eventually associate the annoying noise with their bad behavior and will think twice about repeating the behavior. In certain shows, clickers have also been used to train cats to perform tricks. They learn that a click represents getting a reward, so when they behave in a desirable way, you click, then reward. They then associate the behavior and the click with getting a reward and will repeat the behavior that is rewarded. This is called operant training.

If you’re going to use a clicker to train your cat with a reward, you should not use it to dissuade them from bad behavior. You should use something with a different sound altogether, like the coins in a jar. Cats have a natural aversion to getting wet, so using a spray bottle with water to divert bad behavior is also highly effective.

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Punish Bad Cat Behavior or Reward Good Cat Behavior?

When learning how to train your cat and correct bad behavior, you might wonder whether it is better to take the strict disciplinary route (my way or the highway) or the reward route. Which one is more effective? Which method does a cat respond to better? Actually, a combination of both works well, depending on the behavior that you want to modify. In the case of behavior like scratching the furniture, climbing up on counters to eat human food, climbing curtains, etc., a quick squirt with a spray bottle full of water or a loud noise often diverts the bad behavior. Done consistently, it can change bad behavior.

There’s also a lot to be said for the rewarding your cat for good behavior. Cats react very favorably to receiving their favorite treats and treats can be used to encourage and reward good behavior. You can see this in action when you go to the cupboard to get your cat’s food out to feed him. Watch how he comes to you and starts rubbing against your legs or meows in anticipation of the food. They have learned that when you go to that cupboard, something good happens.

In contrast, training a cat with the constant threat of punishment looming over them can result in a shy, fearful cat rather than a happy, affectionate cat. Hitting a cat should never be used as punishment for bad behavior. It will only make your cat afraid of you. In addition, there are a lot of cat behaviors that are considered bad behavior, but are actually natural cat behavior. One of these are scratching/clawing. Providing alternatives to furniture is an effective way to eliminate damage to the household while allowing a cat to behave the way that cats naturally behave.

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