Crate/Kennel/Bed/Mat Also called target training, “location” training is used when you want the dog to move away from you to a given location.
How nice to ask your dog to go to his "spot" when someone comes to the door. Then you don’t have to worry about all that jumping up and fuss. Oops, your pork tenderloin slipped off the counter. You can see who gets to it first, or send your dog off to his mat.
Start with a bath towel. Later you can move the towel onto the dog bed, in the car, in the crate, on the couch – wherever you want to send the dog. As you progress in training, you can fold the towel into smaller sizes, enabling you to pinpoint to your dog exactly where you want him.
- Sit indoors in a quiet location several feet from the mat. Toss a treat onto the mat. Then hold a treat out for him so he will return to you for it. Since you are training the dog to "get on" the mat you need to lure him off the mat to give him the opportunity to get back on it. Repeat this 15 times.
- Repeat this session at least four times. Start saying "mat" or whatever word you’d like to use just as your dog steps onto the mat.
- Throughout the day occasionally toss a treat onto the mat repeating the cue just as the dog steps onto the mat.
- Start inching the mat around the house. Do not move more than a foot. Dogs do not generalize well.
- Once your dog is eagerly running to his mat you can add duration. Once he picks up his treat off of the mat, immediately give him a treat for staying there. Keep feeding small treats, one right after another, as long as his feet stay on the mat. Then start adding one second, two seconds, three seconds between giving treats. You don’t have to say the word, “stay;” you are automatically training that into his "mat" command.
- The first time you ask for your dog to go to his mat without initially tossing a treat, have the mat right in front of you. As soon as he puts his feet on the mat, give a treat. Repeat 10 times so that he now understands that he will not get the treat until AFTER he puts his feet on the mat. Gradually step away from the mat and send your dog over to it. Do not ask for any duration when you are working on this new criteria.
- Now add duration and, if your dog knows how to sit or lie down you can do that too.
- Lastly, add a few distractions. Any time that you add new criteria you must lessen the other criteria. So if you decide to ring the doorbell and send him to his mat then you need to decrease the distance to his mat and only ask him to stand on it for a second or two.
From start to finish, training a dog to reliably go and stay on his mat can take from a few days to a few weeks. It all depends how much time you put into it and how quickly your individual dog learns.
Janine Allen Rescue Me Dog Trainer
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