Why should you never use verbal corrections in clicker training a cat?

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Some people might say that the most obvious reason not to use verbal corrections in clicker training a cat is that cat’s don’t listen. Quite the opposite is actually true. They do listen, and we bore the socks off them. Cats quickly learn to tune out human speech that does not in any way benefit their take on the situation. “Fluffy! Cat food!” offers a return on the time invested in coming when called. “Fluffy! Get off the counter!” just means that if Fluffy gives in, she’s not getting to do what she wants.

It’s much more important to shape a cat’s behavior in clicker training by rewarding even attempts at performing the desired behavior. You are attempting to cater to a cat’s native skills and inclinations. Most clicker training involves the use of a target stick, which incites curiosity. The sequence generally runs, “Touch, click, treat.” The “click” is a much better way to tell Fluffy she’s done something right, because cats are much more likely to respond to distinct, higher pitched sounds than to the drone of a human voice.

The point is to achieve a means of guiding the cat through a series of learned behaviors. If you scold your cat or try to teach her a bunch of meaningless language, you’re not going to achieve your desired goal — and you’re going to have a really annoyed cat on your hands.

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