How to Successfully Mat Train Your Dog with Amy's Puppy Preschool
Mat, place or “on your bed” training is one of the most valuable skills you can teach your new dog (especially a puppy or a rescue dog) as it allows you to focus on other things (like cooking, zoom calls, answering the door etc), while they are calmly lying on their mat.
Mat training is all about asking your dog to go to their place (mat), thereby preventing them from doing things you don’t want them to do, like being under your feet in the kitchen or jumping on the couch when guests are over. It’s also useful when you’re working from home and need some quiet time, particularly when reinforced with a long chew treat like Bell and Bone’s dental sticks.
The goal is for your dog to be relaxed on their mat and not be distracted by external factors. Make sure you pack your mat away as you don’t want to miss an opportunity for reinforcement when your dog isn’t on the mat. It also keeps the training aspect of the mat fun for them. Once their mat training is mastered at home, you may be ready to take your dog out to busy restaurants and cafes with the mat they have grown familiar with.
We recommend training with a pet travel mat as it can be used at home or outdoors and is compact to carry.
To begin with, you should stand in the middle of the room with the desired travel mat on the floor, say nothing and don’t really engage with the puppy, there are no cues for this or direction…. It’s a thinking game for the puppy.
If the puppy looks at the mat - bridge “GOOD” and reward. Do a few of these and be sure to be diligent with your timing of the bridge, the “good” should happen as soon as the dog’s eyes meet the mat. They must associate the reward with something to do with that mat although they may not get it straight away.
As you progress the training you can stop rewarding your dog for looking at the travel mat (the dog will find this frustrating) and they will probably try a grander gesture to get your attention, such as move towards the mat, step on the mat or push their nose on the mat. Reward any progress the same way as you did before. Keep the session short, just a couple of minutes at a time but multiple sessions a day, don’t make this boring for them!
As your dog improves, they will continue to up the ante of behaviour they offer, again you aren’t cueing this, we are waiting for them to work it out. Continue to make progress and only reward the new behaviour, meaning that if your dog is now lying on the mat, no longer reward them for simply stepping onto the mat.
When they are ready to advance to the next stage, toss the food off the mat so your dog has to run and get it. They then return straight away to the mat to do it all over again. This training is all about progression and you will end up adding distractions and duration to reinforce and improve their skills further. As you feel they are picking up on the desired behaviour nicely, throw in a cue such as “on your mat” and continue to build.
Watch Amy's Mat Training Video with Brian
Happy Mat Training Everyone!
Amy – Amy’s Puppy School
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