Last month I introduced you to a great game that you can play with your puppy or adult dog in the comfort of your very own lounge room. I’m hoping that since then you’ve spent a bit of time rewarding your pup for getting on to a “special” mat. By rewarding your pup for getting on the mat, it will have made the mat valuable to him. If the amount that you’ve rewarded your pup is great enough, he should be getting pretty excited when you get the mat out to start the game. If that’s not the case you need to spend more time continuing to reward him just for getting on to it. Remember at this early stage it’s not important if your pup sits or lies down on the mat, just that he wants to get on it.
Now we move onto Stage 2 and it’s time to see if your pup is getting the idea. You will need a bit more room for this exercise and a nice long lead to make things easier. As with each training session you need to plan it before you start. Decide where you are going to do your training, have your pup’s favourite treats close at hand and have the training mat ready to go.
For this exercise put your pup on a collar and long lead so you can control what’s happening. Start the session off by rewarding him for getting on the mat whilst you are standing right next to it. Once your pup has done this a couple of times call him off the mat, then pick the mat up and move it about 30cm in front of you. What you want to see is your pup attempting to go and get on the mat even though it has moved further away. If your pup is successful a few times in a row, you can continue to move the mat further away but too far that he will be discouraged or give up.
At this stage it is still not important if your pup sits or lies down on the mat. Please be patient while you are at this stage as some pups will pick up the idea much quicker than others. If at any time you see your pup struggling, make it easier by bringing the mat closer until he gets the hang of it.
Remember, make this game fun and keep sessions for puppies short! You want your pup to think that going to and getting on their mat is a really fun thing to do and that will encourage him to do it time and time again.
Next month we will move on to teaching your pup to stay on the mat for short periods of time.