What command can you teach your dog that is cute, fun, handy, and comforting all at once? The “My Lap” command is all that and more! Using this command will enable your dog to position himself in your lap for a good hug without you having to move from your chair. If he retrieves things for you, he will be able to deliver the goods – literally – right into your lap!
Command #19 - “My Lap”
“My Lap” means your dog should put his front two paws in your lap, while you are sitting.
As usual, you and your dog are in a quiet room. He is on a leash and you have treats at the ready. Sit comfortably and relaxed on a sturdy, not-easily-moved piece of furniture. If you are in a wheelchair, please remember to lock your wheels.
While you are sitting, ask your dog to sit attentively in front of you, with “Murray, Watch Me. Yes! Good watch me!"
With a treat in your hand, give him the command “Murray, My Lap!” and encourage your dog to place his two front feet onto your lap.
Since he (hopefully) knows not to jump on people, it may take a bit of encouragement to give him an idea of what you want him to do. You can try luring him with the treats and tapping your lap with your hand. As he is working out what you want, keep him interested in trying by telling him “That’s It! My Lap!” It may take a bit more excitement in your energy and voice to get him moving or maybe even some guidance with the leash.
Once he puts his feet onto your lap, say “Yes!” to let him know that is what you want. “Yes! My Lap! Good My Lap!” and give him a treat or two (or three!) so he comes to feel that “My Lap” is a great place to be.
At first, your dog may not be very comfortable with his feet in your lap, so you want to reassure him that this is indeed what you had in mind. Before he tries to hop off, you can remind him to “Stay,” and reinforce, “Yes! Good My Lap!” with a treat or two and maybe some calm and gentle petting in his favorite spot.
When you are ready for your dog to leave your lap, you can use the “Off” command to get his feet back onto the floor. Say “Murray, Off,” and then you can lure him with a treat or guide him with the leash. Try not to push him off – give him the command and let him do the work. Once again, as he is working out what to do, encourage him with “That’s It! Off!” and once he has all four feet back on the floor you can praise and give him a treat – “Yes! Good Off!”
If by chance your dog hops down before you ask him to, simply say “No” and redirect his attention back to you, repeating “My Lap” and encouraging and luring him up as before. Then use treats, gentle petting, and “Stay” to keep him on your lap until you decide he should get off.
As usual, take your newly learned command on the road. You can do the “My Lap” command in various rooms of your house – on the couch, on a kitchen chair, in the bedroom on the edge of your bed, or out and about on a bench or wall.
Once your dog knows the “My Lap” command pretty well you can combine it with other commands such as “Kiss” and “Snuggle” or even have him retrieve things and bring them directly to your lap. “My Lap” is a fun command that requires no special equipment – anywhere you sit, you have a lap and you can have your dog in it!
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All training tips in this series are from ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), a non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs for veterans with disabilities. Learn more about ECAD.