IMAGE A-   A+
Report cruelty | Contact | News | eNews sign up
Home > Health & behaviour > Dogs > Mat training

Mat training

Giving your dog an area in which it can settle will be a useful training tool. By providing a mat, you give your dog an easily recognisable area where it can go if it is feeling uncomfortable or wants a rest. As the owner, it also gives you a place to send the dog if you want it out from under your feet or away while you eat dinner. The mat can also be used to help your dog focus when it is feeling excited or anxious about greeting friends, family or strangers. You can take the mat wherever you go, which makes it easier for the dog to behave appropriately outside the home.

Getting started

Start in an environment where the dog is calm and there are minimal distractions. Put the mat on the ground and place your dog’s favourite treat or toy on top. If your dog puts at least one paw on the mat, mark the behaviour with a “yes”. This will, in time, let your dog know it has done the right thing. If the dog keeps its feet on the mat, mark the behaviour again (“yes”) and give the dog another treat. Repeat this step.

Settling down

Next, you want to get the dog to settle in a comfortable position that it will be able to maintain for extended periods. This is usually a ‘drop’ or ‘down’ position. Lure the dog into a down position and mark the behaviour, followed with a treat. Continue to give the dog treats for maintaining the drop position. If it gets up, do not say anything. Just re-lure the drop and give the dog treats for staying on the mat. You are trying to teach the dog that good things will happen if it stays on the mat. It is best to repeat these steps in several short sessions.

Staying on the mat

When the dog is in a comfortable position, occasionally offer it a treat as you move around the mat. Move away and then come back and reward the dog. Gradually increase the distance each time you move away. Remember, that being out of sight is a big change for the dog, so you will need to make sure it is quite comfortable on the mat before you leave the room.

Using enrichment items, such as Kongs, pig’s ears or bones, will also encourage your dog to stay on its mat. Each time the dog receives this treat inside, it must first settle on its mat. You will be able to go about your daily business while the dog is busy enjoying its treat. Remember to verbally praise the dog and try to return before it finishes its treat. If the dog moves from the mat, calmly ask it to get back on and reward it for doing so.

Adding a cue

When you are confident that your dog understands how to use the mat, it is time to add a cue to the behaviour. Set up the mat and have some treats ready. Cue the behaviour of the dog getting on the mat with a word such as “mat”. If the dog gets on the mat, mark the behaviour (“yes”) and immediately reward it. Let the dog off the mat and try again. Initially, you should do this close to the mat so the dog understands exactly what you are asking for.

Getting off the mat

It is very important that you let the dog know when it is allowed to move off the mat, otherwise it will become confused. Saying words such as “OK” or “off you get” will let the dog know when it can move off the mat. Remember to reward the dog when it does as you ask.

 
Home
Contact us
FAQs
Find local RSPCA
Latest news
Media releases
RSPCA shop
Site Map
AEC terms of reference






About us
Adopting animals
Training
Education team
Employment
History
Inspectorate
Publications
Shelters
RSPCA Pets Place
Vet clinics
Vision
Volunteering
Adoption
Pets for adoption
Adopting from us
Senior pets
Kittens in pairs
Pets in apartments
Adoption fees
Fostering
Happy endings


Get involved
Donate
Regular giving
Events
Fundraising
Membership
Volunteering
Corporate Involvement
Careers

Our sponsors:


Health and behaviour
Birds
Cats and kittens
Dogs and puppies
Fish
Guinea pigs
Horses and ponies
Mice and rats
Rabbits
Reptiles and frogs
Seasonal health
RSPCA Pet Insurance
Issues
Cat welfare
Humane food
Puppy factories

Emergencies
Report cruelty
Dogs in hot cars
Emergency contacts
Emergency planning
Lost and found
Report a lost pet
First aid for pets
Mobile Animal Care Unit (MAC)
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved | The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Victoria) | ABN 56 749 449 191 | ACN 131 965 761 | Privacy Policy