Ask a Dog Expert: Training Up

What is the number one thing you like to train dogs after basic obedience?

I personally am a big fan of mat training. This tool can be used for high energy dogs who need to be taught to stay calm and remain in one place. This is great for dogs who jump up on people or who run around the house like crazy when the doorbell rings, or for dogs who like to scavenge for food while you're cooking in the kitchen. It gives the an alternate behaviour - lay down on the mat. 

The basics are simple, and the follow-through from the human is even more important. We want to show her that the mat is very rewarding. 

1. Reward your dog any time she looks at or steps toward a designated "mat". Use treats to reward.

2. Next, treat your dog when she approaches the mat. 

3. Treat your dog when all four paws are on the mat and reward lots (jackpot!)

4. Next, only reward when she decides (on her own) to sit on the mat. 

5. Reward when she lays down. Again, jackpot with lots of treats so she can associate with laying down on the mat is exactly what she wants to be doing!

No cues or commands are given upon introducing the mat. You are just rewarding when she eventually goes to and lays down on the mat. She gets treats as she progresses. Next comes duration and adding a command, but this is a good starting point.  For a detailed mat training introduction video visit our Facebook page Puppy Love London @puppylovelondonont. 

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