Up for a challenge…?
Calm-mat to the rescue…
Let’s start to use our dog’s calm-mat to help them be a little more under control in those exciting situations.
Teach your dog that when you get his lead out, it’s time to go to his mat and settle.
Practice for 1 minute sessions at a time with plenty of down-time in between.
It’s best to try to work practice into your routine, such as while you wait for the kettle to boil, while you wait for the computer to start up or during the ad break of a TV show.
To make things easier at the start, practice after your dog has had his walk.
Kids are often great dog trainers. Teach each child how to lure safely.
If your dog is mouthy, jumpy or likely to get over-excited it might be best for you to get the behaviours established and then bring in the kids to help with practice.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone when eating his rewards.
Make sure not to have any other clues that tell your dog it’s walkies time present; so no keys, jackets, boots and so on. It may even be a good idea to have no collar or harness on your dog at this stage.
Revise your matwork. Lay out your dog’s mat and wait for him to settle on it.
Reward him with five rewards on the mat and then release him.
Hold out your dog’s lead so he can see it. Immediately drop two or three yummy rewards onto his mat, no matter what your dog does.
Right now, his behaviour isn’t as important as him building the connection between his lead and yummies showing up on his mat.
You know you are getting somewhere when your dog looks at his lead and then expectantly looks for his treat.
Hold out your dog’s lead and wait for him to go to his mat. You can help him by cueing or even luring him into a down position on his mat if needed.
Practice with a more real life level of excitement by bringing in a jazz up/settle down game into this exercise.
Show your dog his lead and wait for him to go to his mat. Surprise him with a jazz up game like tug.
Show your dog his lead again and wait for him to get onto the mat again.
Dog getting stuck?
Is your dog finding this too hard? If your dog can’t control their excitement and is finding it difficult to progress through the stages, make it a little easier so that he is successful.
Instead of holding his lead, start by teaching him that you simply moving toward his lead or reaching for his lead for his clue to check out his mat.
This very same exercise can be used to teach your dog to go to his calm-mat when the doorbell sounds or there is a knock.
Just start with Stage 1 at the easiest level for your dog. For example, have your dog far enough from the door that he doesn’t go completely nuts when he hears your assistant ring or knock.
It’s a great idea to record the sound of your doorbell or someone knocking so that you can control the volume.