Go to your Mat
“Go to your mat” is a powerful cue to teach your dog. Your dog will learn to relax on his bed instead of jumping up on visitors, barking at the window, or tripping you up in the kitchen. Use it when you are working at your desk, watching TV, cooking dinner, answering the door, visiting with guests – anytime you need to get your dog out from underfoot.
How to train it:
- Hold a treat in your hand. Tell your dog, “go to your mat” in a cheerful tone of voice and point to his mat.
- Pause a second or two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), then lure your dog onto his mat by putting the treat in front of his nose and slowly moving it over the mat. If you move your hand too quickly or too far away from his nose, he may give up and lose interest.
- As soon as your dog has four paws on the mat, mark with “yes” and reward with the treat.
- Give the hand signal or lure for “down.” When your dog lies down, mark and reward again. Continue to give praise and treats to keep your dog on the mat. After a few seconds, release your dog using your release cue (“okay,” “break,” “release”) and allow him to get up.
- Repeat steps 1-4 several times. Gradually increase the amount of time you ask your dog to stay on the mat.
If your dog gets up before you release him, tell him, “ah-ah,” and immediately direct him back onto his mat and into a down. Don’t treat him, but make the duration short, so you can release him and repeat the exercise right away and reward for a successful result.
When to Practice:
Practice when you can pay attention. Try practicing while you are answering easy emails, not concentrating on a report due tomorrow. Work on it when you’re preparing a sandwich, not making a gourmet recipe for the first time, or during a commercial break – not an engrossing movie.
As you increase the time your dog spends on his mat, add in some shorter intervals to keep him motivated.
Once your dog is starting to improve, space out the treats he gets for staying on his mat. Eventually he will stay for no treats at all, but to keep the behavior strong, thank him occasionally for a job well done.