In this article, you will learn how to teach your dog the “Place” command, which can be a lifesaver in various situations. Imagine being able to calmly instruct your dog to go to a specific spot and lie down, whether it’s to keep them away from the dinner table, stop them from bothering guests, or having a portable place to bring along when visiting friends or restaurants. This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to train your dog to recognize and respond to the “Place” cue, starting with introducing a designated mat and gradually building up to more advanced distractions. With patience and consistency, you’ll have a well-trained dog who understands the importance of finding their place.
How to Teach Place
Teaching your dog a “Place” cue is a valuable skill that can make your life so much easier. Imagine being able to calmly ask your dog to go to her designated spot and lie down whenever needed. Whether you want to keep her away from the dinner table, stop her from pestering guests, or provide her with a portable place to settle in unfamiliar surroundings, having a solid “Place” command is incredibly useful. Here’s a step-by-step guide to teaching your dog this important behavior.
Start with a brand-new rug, bed, or blanket
The first step in teaching your dog the “Place” command is to choose a dedicated mat or blanket that will serve as her special spot. Make sure it’s comfortable and inviting so that your dog will want to spend time on it. This new item will become associated with the “Place” command and will signal to your dog where she is supposed to go.
Hold the mat and show interest
Once you have the mat or blanket ready, hold it in your hands and show interest in it. Your dog will naturally become curious about what you’re holding, and this curiosity will help create a positive association with the mat. Show enthusiasm and let your dog investigate the mat on her own terms.
Use your marker and place a medium-value treat on the mat
To begin associating the mat with rewards, use a marker like a clicker or a verbal marker (such as the word “Yes!”) to signal to your dog that she has done something right. Then, place a medium-value treat on the mat for her to enjoy. This marks the first step in building the connection between the mat and positive reinforcement.
Continue to mark and give a treat for any mat-related behaviors
As your dog explores the mat and engages with it in any way, continue to use your marker and reward her with a treat. This could include sniffing, touching, or even getting on the mat. By consistently marking and treating any mat-related behaviors, you reinforce the idea that being on the mat is a desirable activity.
Reward high-value treats for lying down on the mat
When your dog takes the next step and lies down on the mat, make sure to reward her with high-value treats. This indicates to her that lying down on the mat is an especially valuable behavior and encourages her to continue doing it. By gradually increasing the value of the treats for the desired behavior, you reinforce the importance of lying down on the mat.
Mark and treat for downs interspersed with other mat behaviors
In addition to rewarding your dog for lying down on the mat, continue to mark and treat for other mat-related behaviors as well. This could include sitting, standing, or even turning around on the mat. By acknowledging and rewarding these behaviors, you reinforce the idea that being on the mat is a positive experience.
Pause to see if she offers a down
After rewarding several downs and other mat-related behaviors, pause and wait to see if your dog offers a down on her own. If she does, be sure to mark the behavior and reward her with several high-value treats. This encourages her to offer downs more frequently and demonstrates her understanding of the “Place” command.
Give a release cue and invite your dog to follow
Once your dog is comfortable with lying down on the mat, it’s important to teach her a release cue. This cue signifies the end of the “Place” command and allows your dog to follow you away from the mat. Give the release cue and invite your dog to follow you, but refrain from providing additional treats or praise during this phase.
Repeat the process and increase the distance
To further reinforce the “Place” command, repeat the entire process and gradually increase the distance between you and the mat. This teaches your dog to go to her mat from greater distances and solidifies her understanding of the command. If she’s not lying down on the mat consistently, randomly hold out for a down and reward it accordingly.
Increase the duration of the down
As your dog becomes more proficient at going to her mat and lying down, it’s time to start increasing the duration of the down. Start with just a few seconds and gradually add more time to the down stay. By gradually increasing the duration, you teach your dog to stay on the mat for extended periods, which can be incredibly useful in various situations.
Add your cue and send her to her ‘Place’
Once your dog is reliably going to her mat and staying there for longer durations, it’s time to add a cue. Choose a word or phrase that you will use consistently to signal the “Place” command. For example, you can use “Mat” or “Place.” Say the cue just before sending your dog to her mat, and reinforce the behavior with treats and praise.
Add distractions and generalize the behavior
To ensure that your dog understands the “Place” command in various situations and locations, it’s important to add distractions and generalize the behavior. Start with simple distractions, such as giving a little jump or a clap of your hands, and gradually work up to more challenging distractions. This helps your dog learn to stay on her mat even when there are distractions around.
Depending on your dog and your commitment to training, you may be able to teach the “Place” command in just a few sessions. However, if your dog is still working on basic good manners or struggles with impulse control, it may take longer. Regardless of the timeline, you will undoubtedly be thrilled with the results of this valuable management tool.
Remember to be patient, consistent, and always use positive reinforcement to reward your dog’s successes. With time and practice, your dog will become a pro at the “Place” command, making your life easier and creating a calmer and more well-behaved canine companion.