Teaching your Dog to Sit or Down on a Target

Having your dog lie down on a floor mat is a great way to give your dog polite greeting skills and avoid high risk behaviors like door darting.

How to train it.

Step 1. Encourage spontaneous behavior by pre-baiting his bed or treating (or Clicking) your dog whenever he naturally sniffs around the mat area.

Step 2. You can also lure your dog onto his mat by putting the treat up to his nose then slowly moving it over the mat. Go slow enough to keep his interest and reward frequently.

Step 3. Give the treat or ‘Click’ the moment your dog places a paw on the mat.  After every 4-6 successes pause briefly to encourage more robust effort until he is eventually placing all four paws on the mat.

Step 4. Cue a visual or verbal ‘Down’ or lure if your dog needs help.  Reward when he lays down or makes sufficient effort.  Continue to treat while your dog remains on the mat.  Stop treating if he leaves the mat or give your ‘All Done’ cue to end the training session.

Repeat steps 1-4, gradually increasing the amount of time you ask him to stay on the mat.

Video Tutorials

Here are some video tutorials to help you and your dog navigate this new skill!

Training Tips

  • Retain a neutral position and minimize bending or kneeling whenever possible.
  • As your dog progresses space out the treats he gets for staying on his mat.  Eventually he will stay for no treats at all, but to keep the behavior strong, thank him occasionally for a job well done.
  • Advance one area of difficulty at a time: duration, distance, or distraction.
  • As you increase the time your dog for longer periods remember to reinforce periodically, especially for withstanding distractions.


  • If your dog doesn’t seem to get it try clicking more frequently for any behavior directed toward the mat.
  • If your dog stands up before you release him reinforce more frequently while your dog is down, then stop when your dog stands up.
Mia understands she should lay down and settle but misses the target mat.