How to Train a Puppy to Stay on Mat

Easy
1-2 Weeks
General

Introduction

Having control over where your puppy is when you have guests over may be one of the more important things to keep in mind, especially if you enjoy having regular company. When a puppy is all over the place, jumping up, bothering others, or begging for food, it can seem as though he is not very well trained, or lacks basic manners. Keeping him in one spot for a good portion of the visit can give him the ability to stay calm and polite when people come in and out of your home.

Most owners enjoy having their puppy stay on a dog bed or in a crate, but another good item to use is a mat, specifically made for him. It can be large or a little smaller, but as long as it is comfortable, your puppy can be perfectly happy with his little area while you take care of other things. With the right mat and a little bit of training, you won’t have to worry about your puppy showing off any bad manners to your guests.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your puppy to stay on a mat is a multi-step process. You want to first introduce the mat, then get him to understand that you want him to sit, lie down, and then stay on it for long periods of time. This can be a little complex to understand all at once, so you’ll want to space out the training over one to two weeks for your puppy to understand the fundamentals of what you’re asking. Though provided you have the right amount of patience and understanding for a puppy who may be full of energy and easily distracted, it should be a fairly simple task to teach.

Puppies should begin this training as soon as you bring them home to really be able to get the most out of your dog’s attention span. This trick will certainly come in handy as a foundation for other, more complex obedience commands later on.

Getting Started

You’ll first want to find a mat that is big enough for your puppy to lie down on comfortably. He should be able to fit all four paws onto it as well as his whole body. A mat that is soft or plush may be more comfortable, but you can also consider something that is smoother, as long as it’s not unpleasant to the touch. You’ll also want to make sure your puppy understands a basic ‘down’ and ‘stay’. Once you have that, gather up a few treats to use as rewards and get ready to start!

The Target Method

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Step
1
Set the mat down in one spot
Pick an area in the room to set the mat down. Keep this spot consistent at the beginning and try not to move it around too much.
Step
2
Lure your dog to the mat
Use a treat to call your puppy towards the mat.
Step
3
Wait until all four paws touch
Bring the treat back towards yourself until your puppy gets all four paws onto the mat. It may take him a moment to get used to it and sniff it out. Be patient with him during this time.
Step
4
Reward
Give him the treat once he steps completely onto the mat and offer your puppy plenty of verbal praise.
Step
5
Move around in the same room
Now take the mat and move it to another end of the same room. Don’t leave the room you began in, but place the mat into different spots and ask for the same behavior.
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The Down-Stay Method

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Step
1
Ask your puppy to go to the mat
Have your puppy go to the mat like you’ve practiced.
Step
2
Ask for a ‘down’
Ask your puppy to perform a ‘down’, or if you need to, lure her into the down position with a treat.
Step
3
Reward
Reward her once she lays down onto the mat.
Step
4
Increase the length of time
Take a few seconds in between when you ask for the ‘down’ and when you reward her. Gradually increase this amount of time as you go.
Step
5
Use the ‘stay’ command
Once she is reliably staying in a down position on the mat, use the ‘stay’ command and take a few steps away from the mat.
Step
6
Return, Reward, Repeat
Only step back a few feet before returning and rewarding your puppy for staying. Continue to practice this down-stay exercise while stepping away farther and farther. You’ll want to split this up into multiple training sessions, as it can be a little bit difficult to grasp for puppies.
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The Travel Method

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Step
1
Move to a different room
Take the mat with you into the hallway or into a different room in the home. Set it down wherever you’d like.
Step
2
Ask for a down-stay on the mat
Ask your puppy to perform a down-stay on the mat as you’ve been practicing.
Step
3
If necessary, start from scratch
If he seems confused about the new placement, start your training from the beginning by luring your puppy to the mat, rewarding for all four paws, then asking for a ‘down’, then a ‘stay’.
Step
4
Repeat for multiple rooms in the house
Once your puppy understands what you want, practice it in multiple areas of the home so that he is reliable anywhere.
Step
5
Make it challenging
When you feel as though he is ready, start asking your puppy for this behavior when you begin to have guests over. Start with just one guest and work your way up to several. Get your guests involved for some extra practice, if you want!
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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