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It always is a great feeling when our dog wants our attention or likes to be next to us, since it puts a smile on our faces and strengthens the bond with our dog. However, there are times when we want our dog to just relax while we watch a show, make dinner, work on our laptop at home, or have guests over. Teaching your dog to go on a mat is and excellent idea in many pet/owner situations. Let he/she know this is a great place to be no matter what is going on in your home. Figuring out how to make the transition to use the mat is what I will be sharing in this post.
Tools/Supplies you will need:
A Mat-This could be a towel, dog bed, or anything else you would like to have your dog sit on.
**A Cooling Mat is a mat you can use on hot summer days and even year round because it has soft material that is easy to take with you going out locally or on trips.**
Treats– Choose treats that are high value (used only for this training) and that your dog will do anything for.
Some examples of treats I like to use are:
Natural Balance Roll- You can cut them into small pieces which is great for training. Lots of variety on different flavors
Zuke’s- These are small treats that can be broken into smaller pieces as well.
Hot Dogs- Whether it is beef, chicken, or turkey hot dogs this is another great treat to use in small amounts while training.
** You could use cut up hot dogs or hot dog juice mixed with your dog’s kibble to make it taste like hot dogs but not actually give the real hot dog to him / her as a treat.***
** You can keep the treats in a container and bring them out when doing the training or wear a treat bag as well to make it easy to reinforce when your dog is going on the mat. **
** Remember you do not want to use a huge amount of the treats and you can break them up as well.**
I just wanted to define these training words to help you understand what they mean and not confuse anyone.
Lure- The use of a food reward to guide a dog into the desired position or behavior. A toy can be used instead if your dog is not motivated by food.
Hand Signal- When you make gestures or certain movements with your hands while also using verbal cues, dogs learn to associate these hand signals with vocal commands.
Release Word- Words or sounds that signal your dog that he/she is done working.
Step 1- Choose a location in your home to place the mat in the beginning of this training.
Step 2.– Take a piece of a treat in your hand and tell your dog, “Go to your mat” using a positive tone in your voice and point to the mat.
Step 3.– Wait a second or two then lure your dog up to the mat by putting the treat up to his/her nose and slowly lead them over the mat. The reason to go slowly is to keep your dog’s attention.
Step 4.- Once your dog has all four paws on the mat, give he/she a treat and praise.
Step 5.-Tell your dog, “Down.” If you have trained a hand signal for going down, great but if not, you will need to lure your dog into a down. When he/she lies down, then give a treat. After a couple seconds, tell your dog a release word ( alright, done, and free are some examples).
Keep repeating steps 1-5 and gradually add more time to how long your dog stays on the mat.
Another option I have used to teach a dog to go on a mat is to throw a treat on the mat and click (using a Clicker) or say a verbal cue like Yes when your dog goes on the mat. You can do this up to 10 times and then throw a treat away from the mat. Doing this moves your dog away from it and gives you a chance to see if they will go back on the mat again.
Remember if your dog seems stressed or things are not going well, it might be time to take a break and work on this training at another time. Do not feel bad if what you expect and what happens are not the same. It does take time and patience for you and your dog have success with training. Once it happens, that will give you and your dog another way and tool to build a relationship. Your dog will then have a safe and reliable place in the home. This is especially a useful if you work at home and having your your dog go on his/her mat while you work is wonderful too.
If you are looking for more mat training help with your dog, I created a comprehensive guide called How To Train Your Dog To Lay Peacefully (in just 5 minutes a day) It covers preparing to train, what to expect, and step-by-step guidance. Grab your copy now.