Step One: Lure
Lure your dog onto his mat by putting the treat up to his nose and slowly moving it over the mat. Keep the treat close to your dog’s nose—If you move your hand too quickly or too far away from his mouth he may give up and lose interest so be sure to move at your dogs pace.
Step Two: Mark & Reward
As soon as your dog has all four paws on his mat, say “yes” or click and treat.
Step Three: Lure
Immediately after, lure the dog into a down or ask for a down if your dog has a solid “down” cue. Remember to work at your dog’s level. Once the dog is in a down, click or “yes!” and treat! Continue to treat as long as he remains in the down.
Step Four: Release
After a few seconds say “Okay!” and encourage him to get up. If he gets up before you release him, start at the beginning again by luring back into the down position. Release him more quickly this time, then keep practicing to work up to longer downs.
Step Five: Add the Cue!
After your dog gets the idea that you want him to be on the mat, add the verbal cue “go to your mat!” before you lure onto the mat.
Step Six: Speed it up
Now, start to add speed to the game! Stop clicking and treating when your dog puts his paws on the mat and start just immediately luring into the down. Continue to click and treat once you get the down. As your dog starts to immediately offer you a down once he gets to the mat, you know you’re almost there!
Step Seven: Add Distance
Once your dog knows the game, start to add distance. Have him in a stay, take one step away and then reward or release from stay and then reward. Keep adding distance to add difficulty but
remember to go at your dog’s pace.
- Try hard to remember not to repeat the commands. Say them only once, pause, and lure. To fade the lure, simply pause longer between the command and the lure.
- Continue to reward the dog for holding the down. If there’s a distraction, treat the dog immediately before she has a chance to make the wrong decision. When you’re done, release with “Okay!”
- It will also help to treat your dog whenever you just happen to find him lying down on his mat. The more frequently he is rewarded for doing something, the more he’ll do it.