Teaching a solid mat behaviour is one of the biggest favours you can do yourself and your puppy. It has been a foundation behaviour in most of my classes because of all the valuable skills it can teach with its use. I think this wonderful behaviour is an asset that is under-utilized by most parents.

How I love you. Let Me Count the Ways

Here’s a list of the ways that I use a mat in my day-to-day life and training.

  • the well-known go to your bed
  • to prevent counter surfing
  • while prepping or eating dinner
  • to provide a secure place that doesn’t require your dog to be on you when you are relaxing
  • for polite manners at the door
  • to keep your dog off the furniture when you have company

Once your dog recognizes the mat as a great place to be, you can harness that power and use it to create great behaviours for day-to-day life. A solid mat behaviour will help dogs that like to be in the thick of things learn to stay calm and be comfortable remaining out of the way. Use it to teach:

  • duration
  • your dog to be comfortable staying at a distance
  • introducing distractions into training
  • down
  • crate behaviour

It can assist you in working through the 3 Ds of training. Once a dog has learned to love the mat, you can use that to introduce training concepts such as duration (stay), distractions and working at a distance. You’ll even be able to use it to teach other behaviours!

  • turn it into a management tool

Once your dog is capable of remaining on the mat you will also be able to use it as a management tool. Rather than having to rely exclusively on crates, pens or baby gates, you will be able to use the mat to manage your dog when you are present. The mat is awesome because of its ease of use and it will allow you to station your dog anywhere. It’s so much easier than dragging around that heavy crate.

Taking It on the Road

That’s a pretty impressive list for one little mat! But as if that isn’t enough, you can also take advantage of the mat outside your home.

  • use it on a patio to help your dog feel comfy while you have a coffee or pint
  • take it to a friend’s house so your dog has a familiar place to settle

I have also recently begun using it to help ‘busy’ dogs learn to be calmer, more settled and develop some coping skills when they are out in the big exciting world. By having a physical target that helps their body be still and settled, it is easier for their mind to follow suit. It works amazingly well!

  • provide a safe place for watching the world go by
  • helps to teach them to settle and stop those feet from moving
  • creates a place for calmness between training or leash exercises

Wow! That’s 17 ways to take advantage of a solid mat behaviour. Can you think of any more? For those of you who have already trained a mat behaviour, I hope this has given you some new and exciting ways to use it. And for those of you who have not yet started, hopefully, this has inspired you to get going and begin taking advantage of all the uses and benefits of that marvellous mat.