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The Power of ‘Place’ – Why it’s Important and How to Teach it

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about ‘place’. ‘Place’ is a very valuable command. We can use it for lots of different things. I like to use ‘place’ to confine a dog but still allow them to be involved and engaged in the environment. A lot of times it is very calming for the dog. It helps me to know exactly where my dog is always without penning them up. It kind of works the opposite of a crate. I love crates but when a dog is in a crate, they don’t have to think about anything. They are physically restrained. However, with place, they must actively think about staying on the place. ‘Place’ can be used to slow down a busy dog or let a dog unwind when you have guests over. It has lots of other uses and really your imagination is the limit.



The What and Why of 'Place'

Let’s dive into what ‘place’ is exactly and its rules now! Basically, it is a bed of some sort, I usually use a raised cot (pictured above). Some people like to use other types of beds, bathmats, or beach towels. All those works however it must be thick and/or raised enough for the dog to differentiate between the floor and the ‘place’. My big rule for ‘place’ is all four paws must be on ‘place’ or there must be no intent of getting off. Sometimes you have a dog that is a little big and they may flop a paw off place. I’m not going to worry about correcting that. However, if your dog has more than enough room to fit on their ‘place’ and they are showing intent of wanting off, that is when I step in and fix it. I could care less about whether my dog is sitting, standing, laying down, or spinning circles. If my dog has all four feet on ‘place’ and has no intent of getting off, I am happy.


So, now that we know what ‘place’ is, how it’s useful, and what the rules are, you may be wondering, “should I teach my dog place?” Let me answer that question for you. If you have a dog, the answer is YES! ‘Place’ can be a great way to wind down a hyper dog, give a shy dog a safe space, and get lazy dogs, I mean calm dogs (haha), out of the way. ‘Place’ is great for all dogs!

 

Materials Needed to Train Your Dog to 'Place'

If you have made it this far, you are probably wanting to know how to teach your dog ‘place’. Well, you are in luck because that’s next! First, you are going to want to pick something for your dog to ‘place’ on. You’re going to want something proportional to your dog’s size. Your dog should be able to stand on it comfortably, sit on it comfortably, and lay down on it comfortably without hanging off too much. However, you don’t want something so large that it can’t be portable or so large that your dog can be too active on it. Like I said earlier, you’re going to want a ‘place’ that is raised off the ground enough that your dog can differentiate the ‘place’ from the ground. Some people like to use towels or bathmats, I have often used them in the past. However, some towels or bathmats are too thin, and dogs can get easily confused. That is why I like using a ‘place’ cot. You can find them online or at most pet stores easily. Here is a link to a company that I get mine from!


Step #1: Teaching the Action

After you have picked something for your dog to ‘place’ on, you can start familiarizing your dog with the object. Some dogs can be nervous about getting on top of something to start out with. But, with some yummy treats most will often adjust quickly. It may take a couple sessions, but, once your dog is comfortable getting all four feet on to the cot, you can move onto the next step. Up to this point, you don’t want to be using the command yet. You just want to be using the treats to lure the dog onto the cot.


Step #2: Teaching the Word

Step two is to start introducing the command. When you start this step, you want to be 99.9% sure that your dog is going to go onto the cart when you lower them to it. Once you are sure that they are going to go on, you can start saying the command as they are putting their last foot on. Then, you can reward, and release your dog from the cot. You will want to repeat this step multiple times. It may take a couple repetitions, or a couple training sessions. Every dog learns at a different pace.


Step #3: Transition Your Timing

After a while, you can start slowly transitioning when you say the command earlier and earlier. If your dog is doing well after a few times of step two, you can start saying the command as they’re putting their first or 2nd paw on the cot. Then eventually you can start saying it right before they get on the cot. After they have mastered that, you can start using it as the command and slowly start fading out the lure of the treat. This takes time and patience, but it is well worth it!


Step #4: Distance, Distraction, and Duration but NOT at the Same Time!

When your dog is ready for step four, you will start increasing the three D’s of dog training. Now, you may be wondering “what are the three D’s of dog training?” The three days of dog training are distance, duration, and distraction! You want to make sure that you never increase more than one of these at the same time. If you do, your dog may not generalize what you are asking of them. This step is the longest and the most time consuming. You will have to practice lots of different scenarios and situations. Eventually, you should be able to get to the point where your dog is holding the ‘place’ very well. My personal dog, Splash, will hold ‘place’ for several hours while I teach classes and train other dogs!


Practice, Practice Practice!

This concludes our blog on how to train a dog the ‘place’ command and four easy steps! It is not too difficult, just time consuming! I hope this was a help to you. I know that it is one of my favorite commands and I use it daily! Please reach out if you have any questions!


Happy training!

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Excellent information which I will put to good use starting today. I still use place but not with all the little tricks you suggest. Thanks

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I’m glad it was helpful! Place is definitely a good one to work on!

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