Mat Training in Dogs: Setting the Mood

January 8, 2021 (published)

Teaching to go to a mat

Teaching your pet to go to a mat, called stationing, can be used to:

  • give him space (a portable safe haven) from visitors and create his own “go to” spot.
  • keep him out of the kitchen during mealtimes or from counter surfing.
  • take the mat to the veterinarian and station him for exams and weighing.
  • station him for medicating at home.
  • station him for grooming.
Photo courtesy of Pat Koven, LVT, KPA-CTP

Before you even start doing mat work with your pet, make sure the surrounding area is set up for success. Minimize any potential distractions for both of you: turn off your cell phone, work away from windows and doors, practice when the rest of the family is out of the house. Lowering the blinds, closing the curtains and dimming the lights can all help create a calming atmosphere so both of you can focus. The more inviting it is for your dog, the easier and quicker this behavior can be taught. He will quickly associate the mat with his own happy place.

Use a mat that won’t slip across the floor. A yoga mat or folded beach towel can work perfectly and be easily portable. A non-slip backing can be part of the mat or a separate layer underneath it, such as rubber shelf lining.

Photo courtesy of Pat Koven, LVT, KPA-CTP


Eventually the mat becomes a place both inside and outside of the home for the dog to seek out on his own. Place the mat away from furniture in a low traffic area so your dog has room to roll over on it and not hit anything. You should be able to sit nearby to quietly observe him. Stay in this location until the behavior is learned. Move the mat in future sessions so the dog targets the mat itself rather than the location.

For more information, see Teaching to Station on the Mat.

Photo courtesy of Pat Koven, LVT, KPA-CTP

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