How far away should the target stick be from a cat during initial clicker training?

When training a cat with a target stick and a clicker, start off in close proximity to him. Cats are naturally very curious. He will investigate the end of the stick, and will quickly catch on to the sequence of “touch, click, treat.”

If a cat seems reluctant to touch a target stick or is disinterested, you can rub a little of his favorite treat on the end. Use this trick only to get him interested, however.

When your cat is consistently investigating the target stick, begin moving it farther away. At this point you can also begin to add the verbal cue, “Touch.” As soon as he completely understands that touch means, “Come to the stick, do this silly thing for me, and you’ll get a treat,” you can then use the stick to begin guiding him through more complex behaviors to reach the stick.

Always remember, however, that cats are “return on investment” kind of animals. Should you ever discontinue the treat, expect him to discontinue his behavior. The hallmark of any good animal training is consistency, but with cats, it’s imperative. Welch on your end of the deal, and your cat is out of there!

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