• I have a question around "Go to Place" training. I'm teaching it in one basic location right now, but I'd like some advice on transfering it to different locations or situations.

    From "Controlled Unleashed" (paging Agile :)), it's taught that you can move the mat around to different locations and the dog will just go the mat where-ever it is. I could see that if they are associating it with a particular mat (unless they are generalizing to any mat, I don't have enough different types of mats to know that righ now) . I'd like to have mats (or pillows or a bed) in the bedroom in addition to the mats in the living room. So would I need to use the same type of mat in both locations if I want to use the same cue? Or what if I want to use a dog bed in another location instead of mat? Would that need to be a different cue?

    And I'm curious for those who have done this with multiple dogs, do they each have their own mat that is different from the other dogs and know which one is theirs or do they all typically go to one mat or location? I've worked with the dogs separately so far and haven't crossed the bridge of working with them together.

    I don't want to mess up what I've started so far, so any advice is appreciated.


  • Well, since the CU class I'm teaching is cancelled due to weather, this will do! I started using one mat for Zest. I did take the mat on the road and used it at different locations - a quiet hall at the local agility show, conformation shows, back yard, outside, etc. She quickly generalized to different mats and is now quite the "mat brat". So no, at least for Z, I would not have to use a different cue if I want her to go to a different mat. If I say "magic mat" (or sometimes just "mat"), she will go to the closest thing that looks like a mat including a small kitchen rug. If she's confused, I'd simply point out what the mat-of-the-moment was and she'd quckly catch on. But initially, I used one mat to train the cue.

    I think some of what you're asking, depends on what you want. Zest does tend to "work" the mat - meaning she doesn't really relax when she's on her mat. She downs on the mat and focuses on me waiting for her reward since she knows she's a good girl. "Mat" for Zest is a body target, if you will. If I wanted her to go to a place and sleep or relax, I would use a different cue. Maybe "bed". Because I'm looking for a different behavior from her and I would (at least during initial training sessions) use a different object from my mat. (my mat is 1/2 a dog sleeping bag, so for "bed" I might use a dogbed with sides for example.)

    If you need a dog to go to your bedroom when the doorbell rings, I would not let the dog generalize the "mat" (or "bed") cue. If the doorbell rang (er, well, we don't actually have a doorbell) and I told Zest "Mat", she'd run to the closest mat-like thing she could find close to the door (source of excitement and she does not want to miss out on all the action!). That works for us. A different dog, I might do something different.

    As for 2 dogs, again, it just sort of depends on the dogs and what you need from them. I'd think about what you want/need from them and then try it and see what you get.

    However, the whole mat thing can become quite powerful. I went to a drop in class not too long ago and was doing some recall/mat work for a warm up. I then started something else and could not get Z off her mat. I had to remove the mat for our training to progress.

    Hope that helped. Let me know if you have any other qu's - it's this or cook dinner.

  • Thanks! Hopefully you're done with dinner now. 🙂 The situations I'd like to apply it to at the moment are mostly management related versus competitive (which I won't be doing within the next year or so)

    a) doorbell - have them both go to a mat in the living room. I'm guessing that I'd want two mats (mostly for the next reason below) versus one when two dogs are involved. Although I'm not sure if you'd want them to go to a specific mat or whichever mat they get to first (this would probably be easier).

    b) redirecting one dog or both when dog-dog guarding issues occur (e.g. one dog is sleeping next to a person and gets rather annoyed when the other dog approaches). I'm thinking when that occurs, I'd like to just send them to their mats (or at least the snarky one). I believe lvoss recommended something like this for a dog-human guarding situation and I like the idea of it. This could also occur in the bedroom at night so I'd like to have another set of mats/beds in the bedroom in addition to the living room.

    When I'm traveling I think it would be handy to carry the mats too to manage similar situations so I definitely don't want it based on a location versus the mat. Although generalizing to any mat-like object might work fine as well.

    I like the relaxing on the mat aspect brought up in the book. But it seems like sending them to a bed perhaps would be more appropriate for that.

    P.S. I just re-read the CU book on the plane today. It takes a few good reads to absorb all of the info. It's such a great book.

  • I use the Levels, Go To Mat, method for my dogs. You may want to check out some of the "Continuing Education" tips at Level 4 to see if they help with where your at.


    Go To Mat is introduced as a Level 2 behavior if you want to read how the whole thing is built up.


  • One thing i do cover in my CU class is Dr Overall's Relaxation Protocol. I don't remember if McDivett mentions it in the book, but there was a lot about it on the CU list. You can find it here:

    I do this on the mat, use the "magic mat" cue and use a down instead of a sit. It is 15 days worth of activities and do what you can in the space you have. There are tasks that require you to go 10-15 steps in either direction; i don't have a room that big but you learn to fudge a bit. You perform the first task, reward (but not release the dog from the mat) and go on to the next task until you've finished the entire day's work. Break the days down if you have to. End with something easy for the dog. What this will give you is a dog that can stay on her mat with all sorts of environmental distractions. It will also give you a dog that you can send to the mat when the doorbell rings and will be able to answer the door while she stays on her mat. (I just brought the door thing up because that is a common problem.) These exercises are designed to test the 3 big D's of training (Duration, Distance and Distraction). I need to return to this with Zest. I did quite a bit of it and found teaching a stay was way easy.

    I should also do this with the crazy malinois that lives at my house. I tend to do things in fits and starts and I've been lazy lately. Then I could see what happens with 2 dogs and one mat. I suspect they'd share the mat or Zest would not let the mali on the mat.

    For the mali, because of her excitablity (and almost inablity to be still), i'll work more on her having a calm demeanor on the mat. I'd shape that using the clicker. c/t for a down; c/t for the head down; c/t for deeper breathing, sleep eyes; etc. Then I'd start doing the RP. I need to get back to that with her. With Z, I just started the RP. Just depends on what you want and the handler/dog team. If i were training the cue "bed" i'd do those steps with Z.

    Yea, the book is a lot to take in and a bit all over the place. Around the 3rd time and taking notes it starting coming together for me. Some pages have 3 different colors of highlighter on them. And even then the dvd still helped clarify some things. You can buy it or rent it from here:
    (I have not used this place; but I do know if you spend $75 at dogwise, you get free shipping)

    You can also do the RP in a crate, and there i'd shape for a relaxed state. Leslie also has some ideas if you're doing the RP in a crate and doing Garrett's Crate Games.

    This place also looks like it has some good articles:
    wish the font was easier to read. i'll have to look at them tomorrow, it's a little late for me to sort things out tonight.

    Anyway, that should give you something to work and think on for a day or two. Someone put the RP on their MP3 player, and went through the exercises like that. She counted things out where the exercise was in steps or seconds. I think that would work great. At the time I did not have a player, now i see how nice/easy that could make things.

    Oh, and the CU list is ended, but you can still joint and access the archives. It's a yahoo group.

    That's it for me tonight but i'll check in tomorrow. This was fun; hope it's helpful

  • Thanks, lvoss and Agile! I'm traveling for work right now, so I'll take a good look at all the references this weekend (work computer is blocking some of the sites for some odd reason). The RP is mentioned in CU but she gives a shortcut method which is basically what you described as the pre-RP steps. I'm very interested in seeing how this will all work out.

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