Mitzy the Poodle used to get crazy-excited when visitors came over. Weaving in and out of legs, wiggling, whining and vocalizing to let everyone in the room know she was glad to see them. Everyone was glad to see Mitzy too, but afraid they were going to step on her, as she dashed excitedly about. Mitzy’s owners decided to teach Mitzy to sit on a mat on command. When visitors come over she is instructed to go sit on her mat, which she does, and once greetings are complete and everyone has settled in, visitors can now go over to Mitzy to provide friendly attention, or call her to them for some cuddling and playing. Things are much more peaceful now, and Mitzy is in less danger of being tripped over! Also, when Mitzy gets over excited in other situations, her owners can command her to go sit on her mat, and Mitzy gets some down time before being reintroduced to the situation at hand.
Choose a command such as 'mat' or 'place' that you will use to direct your dog to go sit on a mat. You will need to break the behavior down into stages during training, teaching your dog to sit and also reinforcing going to his mat. Eventually, by combining these behaviors you will be able to direct your dog to go and sit on his mat when you say “mat” or “place”. Even a young dog can be trained to go sit on a mat. The challenge will be getting your dog to go sit on a mat when distractions are present. Ultimately, you will want to employ this behavior to direct your dog to a quiet, safe, place when he is being over-excited, or would otherwise be in the way, such as when multiple visitors are present or a barking trigger approaches your home.
You will need to teach your dog the command for 'sit' before teaching your dog to sit on a mat. Use treats and positive reinforcement to teach your dog to sit on command. A clicker to capture sitting behavior is also often employed. You will also want to get your dog used to a mat that he will be trained to sit on, so that it is familiar and comfortable. Pairing the mat with favorite toys, treats or a chew toy prior to training will create a positive association with the mat.