I love you, but 'Go to Bed'

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

We all love our dogs, but at some point you want him to just go lie down! The ability to settle is an important behavior for every dog.


Teaching 'go to mat' can prevent your dog from:

  • begging at the table

  • getting underfoot while cooking

  • jumping on guests

  • eating messy chews on the carpet

  • getting on the furniture

Yelling 'no!' or 'off!' or 'get out of here!' isn't meaningful to a dog - and if you have to say it repeatedly, it isn't working. Instead of focusing on what you don't want, teach your dog a better behavior he can do instead such as 'go mat'.


Teaching go to mat

Lying on a bed or mat is a specialized form of targeting. From the moment you bring your dog home, you want to make a mat, bed or crate into your dog's happy place! A place you can put him when you need to, and he'll gravitate to on his own (instead of on your furniture if you so desire).


You can use a clicker or simply give a verbal 'yes' as long as your dog understands that this is a positive phrase and rewards are coming.


1. Get the behavior

  • Stand facing the mat

  • Click or say 'yes' the moment the dog looks at, moves towards or places any part of his body on the mat (if your dog is stuck, toss an initial treat onto the mat and click when he steps on it)

  • Throw the treat to your dog while he's on or near the mat

  • Call your dog off the mat using a release cue like 'free' or 'all done'

  • Gradually work your way up to having the dog place all 4 feet on the mat

  • Once your dog is reliably standing or sitting on the mat, wait for him to lie down on it before giving the reward.

2. Name the behavior

When your dog is repeatedly going to the mat and lying down, it's time to name the behavior.

  • As the dog is stepping onto the mat, give the cue 'go mat'

  • Click or say 'yes' and throw a treat to your dog on the mat

  • Call your dog off the mat using a release cue like 'free' or 'all done'

  • Repeat 10 times

3. Put it on cue

  • As the dog is walking toward the mat, give the cue 'go mat'

  • Click or say 'yes' and throw a treat to your dog on the mat

  • Call your dog off the mat using a release cue like 'free' or 'all done'

  • Repeat 5 times

  • When the dog is completely off the mat, give the cue 'go mat'

  • Repeat 5 times

  • Practice giving the cue at different times or in between practicing known cues.

Adding duration and relaxation

The duration of lying on the mat can be extended by giving the dog its dinner or long-lasting chews bones or a stuffed kong only on the mat. Another way to help condition calm behavior on the mat is to sit on the mat with your dog and massage your dog dog (if he likes that).


Below, Timber is learning to to understand the cue, 'mat mat' by practicing it in between other cues she knows well. She's also learning to remain on her mat around distractions.

Need help teaching your dog to settle on a mat? Contact me, I'm here to help.

Need more details? Get in Touch.

 

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Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner