It’s almost that time of year again!  Soon we will all be gathering with our loved ones to join in celebrating the holidays.  This hustle and bustle is often accompanied by poor behavior from our four legged friends.  Does your dog beg at the table or jump on arriving guests?  There are many different behaviors that you could teach your dog to perform in order to curb these undesirable behaviors, but the one that I suggest is mat work.


What is mat work?

Mat work is teaching your pup to go to a specific place and stay there until released.  This behavior will help develop your dog’s impulse control as well as serve as a crucial management technique in everyday life.


How to teach your dog to go to a place and stay:

  • Have your dog’s spot ready. This can be whatever you choose it to be.  This can be a towel, a mat, a bed, or even their crate.  Lure your dog with your food reward onto the spot and tell them go to your place while doing so.  Verbally mark with a “Yes!” and release the treat.
  • Get your dog into the down position. Tell your dog, “Yes!”  Then release the treat.
  • Start slow.  Take half a step back at first, and then return and reward your dog while they are still in the proper position.  Toss a treat off to the side, and release your dog using your release word.  (I always use the word “release.”  Try to avoid using a release cue that may be used during casual conversation such as “ok.”)
  • Start back at the beginning and up the criterion slowly. This means that you will be getting farther away in distance, and asking for longer stays in small increments. (Don’t rush!)
  • If your dog is already pretty good at this behavior, then up the ante.  We are going to start proofing our stay by walking in different directions, and saying different words to differentiate our release cue from everything else.  If your pup breaks their stay, simply say “no,” and put them back into place gently.  If you are continuously struggling to keep them in place, then you are moving too fast and need to go back a step or two.

If your training sessions aren’t going very smoothly and you feel like you need some help stream lining your techniques, give me (Katrina) a call: 937-233-3151 or register online for one of my Obedience Training classes.


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