This is a skill that doesn’t sound much like a ‘skill’ at first but teaching your dog to go to his special place to lie down for quiet time will contribute to greater social opportunities and quality of life for both you and your dog.
For example, if your dog is the type to exuberantly greet every visitor to your home, you can ask your dog to go to his bed while you answer the doorbell so that he doesn’t overwhelm the FedEx man with toys and kisses. Or if you take your dog out to a cafe with you to meet friends, you can bring along his mat and have him lie quietly next to you while you eat and socialize.
To train this skill, I like to use a lightweight bed or mat that can be rolled up to go in the car or carried with us. You’ll also need – for training – some of your dog’s favorite treats. If your dog is the type who likes to wander off during training time, a leash can be handy to help keep his attention on you.
Time to get training!
- Start indoors where there are fewer distractions. This sets you both up for success when you are out in the world together.
- With a treat in your hand, lead your dog on to the mat. If he is nervous at first, reward them for stepping on it or even standing near it. Work your way up to fully standing on it.
- Now, with your dog standing on the mat, ask your dog to lie down.
- Practice this a few times in short sessions.
- When your pup gets it, add in a verbal cue, like ‘go to your place’ or ‘go to your mat’.
- Slowly move further and further away from the mat and ask your dog to go to his place.
- As you’re doing this, you can also lengthen the duration your dog stays on the mat before you reward him.
- Try giving your pup a cue to get up off the bed. I use ‘Okay!’ in an excited voice. This will help when you’re out together and you need your dog to stay down. He’ll learn to wait for your command to get up again.
- Reward calm behavior on the mat with both verbal and physical praise. A few belly rubs go a long way.
- Give your dog his/her special treats such as bully sticks and Kongs on the mat, so it reinforces a positive association.
Follow these steps and stay consistent with it. Soon the mat will become a nice familiar place for your pet to lie down no matter where your adventures take you together!