We do a lot of "go to mat" work everyday. I would say that Viva is asked to go to her mat at least twenty times a day. I do this to build her confidence by asking her to do something she is good at and to give her a place that she can go when she's unsure of what is going on.
Here's a post from past foster dog Seven with the steps of teaching "go to mat"
Here are just a few example of when we ask Viva to go to her "mat":
- when I'm making dinner
- when she comes in from being outside
- when she is bothered by something in the house environment
- when she growls at Catty or D'light
- to boost her confidence since she's good at this skill
- when people come into our house
Since Viva gets to practice so much, D'light and Catty also join in since everyone knows if they do this they too will get a food reinforcement.
The dogs will often play "musical mat" ending up with two dogs on one mat. This has never been an issue between the three since the are all focused on getting the food reinforcer. If there was growling or discomfort by a dog I would not work with all three dogs at the same time.
D'light has decided that the kitchen rug makes for a good mat
D'light says "All right, if I have to sit for a reinforcer I'll do that for you"
Viva likes the mat so much that she will do goofy stuff like this
There are many times where Viva will just go to the mat on her own. I do give her a food reinforcer for making such a good choice!
Viva gets a Beam every morning and she prefers to chew it on the mat
And we are using the mat for another great skill which I will talk about soon!
We have created a very positive emotional response to the mat and Viva is pretty dang amazing.