Most dog owners have a difficult time teaching their puppies to go to their mats on cue but this is actually something that can easily be taught using clicker training. This is a very important trick for dogs to learn because if makes it easier for you to put your dog where you need it to be, whether it is in his crate, in the car or away from visitors who are not comfortable around dogs.
Teaching a dog to go to his mat and to stay there by means of clicker training is not that hard. Here are the steps that you have to take:
1. Position the mat right in front of the dog and prepare to immediately click to call his attention. As soon as the puppy approaches the mat, click and give him his treat. Keep doing this each time the dog approaches the mat.
2. During the next stage, wait for the dog to do something more than just approach the mat before you click and give a treat. Wait for him to actually get on the mat or do something else to it like sniffing or sitting on it. Once he does this, click and give him another treat. This will gradually let him figure out that interacting with the mat on the floor is a good thing and that he gets rewards for doing it.
3. To further instill the importance of the mat, you must ignore the puppy whenever he moves away from it. The closer he gets to the mat, or the more he interacts with it, the more you should use the clicker and give treats.
If your puppy seems to be not interested in the mat at all, you can attract his attention by holding a treat out to him until his feet are actually on the mat. Typically, puppies will figure out that you want them to get on the mat within just a few minutes. However, with some dogs it can take up to a couple of sessions so you should be prepared to exercise some patience.
4. As soon as the dog is on the mat, tell him to sit and stay. When he obeys, click again and give him another treat.
5. As the dog gets used to going to his mat, introduce a one-word command like “mat” or “bed” that he can associate with the action. Eventually, you can just use the command and will no longer have to rely on clicker training for him to get on the mat.