Go To Your Mat

Teaching your dog to go lie down on his mat or bed on cue gives you a wonderfully versatile tool in your doggie management box. Say you want to work at your desk and not have him underfoot. Or you are cooking and would prefer not to trip over a hopeful canine tracking your every move around the kitchen. Maybe guests are visiting for dinner and they aren’t the belly-scratching kind. There’s no shortage of scenarios where it might be handy to have your dog politely lying on his mat, out of the way of the two-leggeds. Here’s how to train it:

Step 1. With a treat in your hand, tell your dog, “Go to your mat” in a cheerful tone of voice and point to his mat.

Step 2. Pause a second or two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), then lure your dog onto his mat by putting the treat up to his nose and slowly moving it over the mat. If you move your hand too quickly or too far away from his mouth he may give up and lose interest.

Step 3. As soon as your dog has four paws on the mat, treat.

Step 4. Tell your dog, “Down.” Give the hand signal or lure it if your dog needs help. When he lies down, treat him. Continue to treat to keep your dog on the mat. After a few seconds, tell your dog, “Okay,” and allow him to get up.

Repeat steps 1-4, gradually increasing the amount of time you ask him to stay on the mat. As your dog gets better and better, 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.

Practice when you can pay attention. For example when you are answering easy emails, not when concentrating on a report due tomorrow. Or when preparing a sandwich, not trying a gourmet recipe for the first time. And TV commercials are a better practice time than engrossing movies.

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