Using Mat Game for Behavior Change
Once your dog can play mat game, you can start to integrate it into his behavior change sessions!
Place your dog's mat where he is likely to be under threshold. (If your dog is reactive to visitors, make sure you and he have room to move further away. If your dog is reactive to people or dogs outside, consider setting up your mat at a distance, in the grass, facing a path that runs parallel to you. This can help as dogs/people will not be moving directly toward you.)
Your dog's mat is his "safety zone". Triggers are not allowed to approach or touch him when he's on his mat. (For example, visitors are not allowed to come pet your dog while he's on his mat or other dogs are not allowed to approach or sniff him if he's on his mat.)
While on the mat, you can play 123 or Popcorn and a Movie with your dog (whichever they are using) as triggers occur.
Your dog's ability to rest on their mat is one way to tell if they are under threshold. This is part of what makes it so valuable! If your dog doesn't engage with his mat, or has trouble staying on it, this lets you know he needs more distance from his trigger.
If you notice this, help him out by moving him further away or using a distraction method until the trigger is gone.
It's hard, but resist the urge to command your dog to go to the mat. This can add stress instead of relieving it.
Let your trainer know if you need some tips or help troubleshooting this!