To finish yesterday’s topic, what my favorite two behaviors are, today’s topic is teaching Go To Mat! Ultimately, hand targeting brings the dog close to you so you may maneuver him where you’d like to and Go To Mat gets your dog away from you.
What is It: Your dog runs to a mat and lays down until you release your dog.
Why Teach It: This is a great behavior to teach to manage unwanted behavior like getting on counters, jumping on guests as they enter your home, or just for when you need a few minutes to yourself. Telling your dog to Go To Mat can give your dog something to do when you want him out from under your feet or when you just want your dog to be still.
- Get ready with your mat and treats.
- Make a big fuss over putting the mat down on the ground. Place the mat on the ground between you and your dog. If your mat is already on the ground, just stand in front of the mat with your toes within 6 inches of the mat.
- When your dog looks at the mat, click. Toss the treat a short distance behind your dog so that the mat remains between you and your dog (the location may limit your ability to toss the treat behind the dog, this is okay, just drop the treat off the mat so your dog can try again). Dropping the treat ensures that your dog looks away from the mat and can then repeat the behavior you want for more clicks and treats. Repeat until he begins to offer step 4.
- Click for one foot on the mat. Again, toss the treat behind your dog. Repeat until your dog begins to offer step 5.
- Click for two feet on the mat. Continue tossing the treats to reset your dog. Repeat until your dog begins to offer step 6.
- Click for three feet on the mat, Click and toss the treat behind your dog. Repeat until your dog begins to offer step 7.
- Click for four feet on the mat, Click and toss the treat behind your dog. Repeat until your dog is offering step 8.
- Wait for your dog to sit on the mat, click and toss the treat. Repeat until he is offering step 9.
- Troubleshooting: if your dog doesn’t start to offer downs on the mat with in 10 treats, stop tossing the treat. Instead reward your dog for being on the mat by delivering the treat to your dog’s mouth. Now instead of clicking for sitting on the mat, wait for your dog to look down, click and reward by delivering treats to your dog’s mouth. As your dog figures out that you are rewarding looking down, your dog should begin to lower her head closer to the floor, eventually collapsing into a down. At this point give your dog several “jackpot treats” and toss the last one so your dog can try again. Repeat until step 8a until you’re getting step 9.
- Wait for your dog to lay down on the mat, click and toss the treat. Repeat until your dog is belly flopping onto the mat.
- Add a cue: As your dog is eating his treat say a cue you want to attach to this behavior. A good cue could be “go to bed”, “mat”, “blanket”, “crash” be creative in your choice. Click when your dog returns to a down on the mat and toss the treat away. Repeat until after hearing the cue your dog runs to him mat and lays down. You can test this response after 2-3 sessions by requesting the behavior at a random time in your day.
- Begin to toss the treat in different directions and distances other than straight behind your dog. To the left and to the right, to your side, behind you (the hardest). Click and treat every time your dog returns to the down position on the mat in front of you.
- Begin to move away from the mat and giving the cue. Start only a foot or so away and slowly increase the distance. Clicking and treating each time your dog gets it right.