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Clicker Training For Fun & Games (3)

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Clicker Training For Fun & Games (3)

“To The Mat”

Wouldn't it be nice if your puppy would go to its mat and lie down nicely on cue? It can happen, and once you've taught this behavior you can use it in many ways. For instance, you can place the mat wherever you need the puppy to go – in the car, in a crate or simply away from people who don't want a puppy jumping on them.

The last clicker training class I went to taught me just how to do this lesson. The trick is to teach puppies that hanging out on the mat is a good thing. Here's how:

1) First, place the mat on the floor in front of the puppy. You have to be ready to click right away because most puppies will investigate anything new. When the puppy comes to sniff at the mat, click and treat. It's best if you let your puppy come back to you for the treat, so it can have practice going to the mat again and again.

2) Next, don't just click for a sniff or the mat. Wait – the puppy should try to figure out what comes next. If the puppy comes to you, ignore it. When the puppy tries something else, such as actually touching the mat with its nose or putting a foot on the mat, click and treat again. Click anything that gets the dog engaged in the game that this particular item on the floor has importance.

3) Gradually click each new step, clicking as the puppy gets closer to the mat, ignoring the puppy as it gets further away. If the puppy isn't touching the mat, height can help. A dog bed works better than, for example, a flat towel.

You can also lure the puppy toward the mat with a treat, then click when the pup steps on th mat. You want the puppy to understand that you want its feet on the mat. For many puppies, this only takes a few minutes, but some may take several sessions.

4) Once the puppy is standing on the mat, the next step is to ask for a sit. When the dog sits, either on your cue or on its own, click and treat.

5) Finally, attach a cue. Make sure that what the dog is doing is firmly in the dog's mind before attaching a verbal cue like “mat” or “bed.” Practice until the puppy goes to the mat and sits on cue.

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BONUS : Common Puppy Behavior Problems: Barking & Digging

Barking is completely normal for any dog but it should be considered a problem if it becomes excessive. Most dogs will bark at strangers passing by, and this is to be expected. However, you need to teach your puppy that although some barking is OK, too much barking is not.

Allow your puppy to bark two or three times when someone rings the doorbell, approaches your house or walks past your yard. Don't let your puppy bark frantically until the person eventually leaves the area.

A Simple Anti-Barking Routine

To train your puppy not to bark excessively, be consistent and plan ahead. Ask a friend to come to your home and ring the doorbell. When the bell rings, your puppy probably will run toward the door and bark.

Take hold of your puppy's collar at that moment, and say his name and then the cue “be quiet.” When he listens to you and ceases his barking, praise him heartily. After several practice sessions, your puppy should start to catch on.

Once your puppy has learned to respond reliably to the quiet cue while inside your house, you can begin the training session outdoors in your yard. Ask friends and neighbors to help you with the training by walking past your property or doing whatever else it is that sets your puppy off on a barking spree.

Remember, too, that bored dogs will bark more than those who are getting enough stimulation. If your puppy is barking like crazy at everyone who passes the house, he may need more exercise and stimulation. That way he won't feel compelled to come up with his own distractions.


The instinct to dig is strong in most dogs and often starts in puppyhood. If your puppy is starting to dig up the yard, you need to intervene before your garden begins to look like a mine field.

The best way to control your puppy's urge to dig is to give him a spot in the yard where he can dig to his heart's content. This might be a place where you've already seen him digging if you don't really mind that he digs there. Or, you may want to entice him to dig in an area that is out of the way and not visible from most parts of your yard.

If you catch him digging in a place that is not allowed, correct him by saying “NO DIG!” and take him to his allowed spot. If he digs in this designated digging area, praise him to let him know he's got the right idea.

Even though he has his own digging spot, you may find that your puppy still likes to dig in places he shouldn't. Protect these areas with temporary fencing (like chicken wire) until your puppy gets in the habit of digging only in his designated spot. Eventually, you should be able to take down the fencing and give him the run of the yard.

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