Excerpted from an
article by Pat Miller
Another useful exercise involves teaching your dog to go to a specific
place, like a mat, to lie down and relax. This can be a fixed location
in your home (in front of the fireplace, by the toy box, etc.), but I
find it more valuable to use a portable carpet square, mat, or dog bed
of some sort. This gives you the flexibility to send your dog to her
spot wherever you are; you just have to take her mat along with you.
This behavior is very useful for a dog who tends to "bug" you (or your
guests) for attention.
1. Take your dog to a bed, mat, carpet square, or
throw rug you have obtained for this purpose, say "place," "go to bed"
(or whatever word or phrase you plan to use). You can lure her to the
bed with a treat, or place a treat on the bed and encourage her to go to
it and eat it. Click or say "Yes!" when she does it, then ask her to
"Down," and click and treat for that.
this a number of times until you think your dog is beginning to
associate the word or phrase with lying down on the mat.
3. Then you can start cueing the behavior without the
lure. Click (or say "Yes!") and give her a reward when she complies. You
can also request a "Wait" so she doesn't pop right back off the mat.
4. When the dog is doing this part well, begin
moving farther away from the mat before giving your "Place" cue.
5. Ultimately, if you wish, you can ask your
dog to go to her place from anywhere in the house. You can name several
different places and teach her to go to each on your request. You can
also take the mat with you when you go out and use it in public or at
friend's houses (this is why a small, portable throw rug or mat is
One alternative to the approach described above is to
"shape" the behavior. This is done by marking (click or "Yes!") and
rewarding any behavior remotely related to the mat, gradually raising
the criteria (what she needs to do to get a click and treat) until she
reliably goes to the mat and lies down on it. Add the cue when she
reliably moves to the mat, and then go to Step 4 above.
Challenge: Your dog lies near or only partially on the
mat in an effort to be nearer to you or your guests (or whatever he'd
rather be doing).
Solution: Be clear about how
much of your dog has to be on the mat for it to "count" (your choice!)
and reinforce your dog only if he meets that standard.
advice on ways to train your dog to be calm, purchase
Calm Down Rover! Teach Your High-Energy, Hyperactive Dog to Chill
Out & Relax from Whole Dog Journal.