Mat, Sit, Stay
Hello Everyone! I’m Laurie, the owner of Side By Side Dog Training. My hope is to give you some simple, easy to do quick ideas while you are at home with your canines.
While my dogs expect to play and train every day, I’m lucky in the sense that I train dogs for a living. I thought it would be a good time, while we are in #staysafe #stayhome mode, to give you some simple ideas to do with your dogs. Of course, walking your dog is a good exercise for both you and your dog and gets you out of the house -- so get out there, walk a bit, and enjoy the moment.
Here are two other ideas you can do, in short, easy training sessions a couple times each day – mat training and mind games with finding food using toys and boxes.
Mat – I constantly sing the praises of mat training! There are so many situations where having a solid mat or place behavior comes in super handy. During #staysafe #stayhome, I suggest focusing on building relaxation and length of time on the mat, since many of us are spending a lot of time relaxing and watching movies, videos, etc. and the best time to work on this is when we are relaxed and stationary. (If you want to know how to start your mat behavior, this is a video I made with my littlest dog learning about mat: https://youtu.be/heZi4wceOyQ ) Get ready by getting your mat (can be a dog bed, a bath mat, a blanket, a towel – really anything your dog can lay on), some treats, maybe a stuffed food toy or a favorite chew, and your remote control (for your entertainment). Put the mat at your feet on the floor. Once your dog settles on the mat, start randomly dropping treats down on to the mat. If you’ve gotten a stuffed toy or chew for your dog, he can have it as long as he stays on the mat with it. I don’t say anything at all! If your dog is on the mat, he gets treats and/or his chew. If he leaves the mat, nothing. (If your dog falls asleep while on the mat, PERFECT!!! He is so relaxed, he decided to sleep. Exactly what we are working towards! Don’t keep dropping treats once he falls asleep – take cute photos and videos and post on social media instead!) Doing this while watching a movie is a great training session and is teaching your dog a useful behavior.
A twist on mat behavior is to teach your dog the same skill, but instead of a mat, using her leash for her to lay on. This is a great skill to have when you don’t or can’t take a mat. Always keep in mind the leash laws for the area, because if your dog is laying on her leash, you are probably not holding it!
Look forward, a bit, with me – it’s a sunny, beautiful weekend morning and you’re going to brunch with friends. The restaurant has an outside patio and your dog gets to come along. You lay down his mat, he lays down and naps while you have a lovely meal with friends. Ahhh…all that movie watching during #staysafe #stayhome pays off!!! I look forward to having the chance to patio dine again.
Food Toys – most of us view food toys as a way to keep our dogs busy for a few minutes and/or to slow down our speed demon eaters. But food toys actually teach our dogs to be better problem solvers and how to make good choices. Get a new food toy from The Dog’s Meow (my dogs love the West Paw Toppl and Tux and traditional Kongs) and instead of just filling it and giving it to your dog, put the filled toy into a box that’s inside of a box and let your dog figure out how to get to the toy. Adding extra levels increases the time spent playing and thinking, increases the challenge, and gives you options for making the toy look a little different every time. This idea also works for the food mazes and slow feeders. Another twist on a food toy is to prepare a food maze/slow feeder ahead of time, using something that will freeze. I use Nulo Bone Broth for mine and I mix up their food, the bone broth, and maybe a fun treat or two, put it all into the maze and freeze it. Fair warning – some dogs get messy with this while eating it, so this is a puzzle I give to them outside.
The bottom line is to do what you feel up to doing and have fun with your dog! If you have any questions or need any support with your dogs, please contact me: www.sidebysidedogtraining.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 801-643-6272 (call or text).
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home!!! We have a lot to look forward to on the other side of all this!!! Laurie Schlossnagle CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, KPA CTP, PCT-A Side By Side Dog Training