Why the “Place” Command is So Important and Your Dog Should Know It!

Thanks to caninegoocitizen.wordpress.com for the photo

I get a lot of questions.

I just wrote an article on teaching your dog to respect opened doors and not rush through them.

I think it is important to teach a dog about doors minus using a “place” command or teaching your dog to get and stay on his bed for more on respecting doors click here, but I also think that having a place command is crucial.

It Can Be Argued

It can be argued and it will be argued by dog trainers and the like till the end of time that all you need is a good place command and you don’t need to teach your dog to respect doors; but I prefer both.

I would rather train for a little of everything, and plan for mistakes here and there.

The More Tools You Put in Your Dog Training Bag the Better Off You Will Be

I have literally never heard anyone seriously complain that their dog was too well behaved.

Don’t get me wrong I have heard OTHER people complain that someone else’s dog was “too well behaved” or they thought the dog wasn’t allowed to be enough of “a dog” but when you have a really well behaved dog you usually love it!

But, like anything else it takes WORK and TIME!

Why Place?

So let’s talk about the benefits of the “place” command.

  • It can keep him from running out doors
  • It helps stop dogs from barking at the door by giving them a quiet place to go to.
  • It can keep him from running out cars or vehicles
  • It can keep him out of the way (if he is constantly underfoot)
  • With some effort it creates less creeping or crawling than stay because the dog learns his body has to be touching the place item.
  • It gives him a comfortable place (no pun intended) to be when you go somewhere else; vacation, the ball field, your friend’s house etc.

What is “Place”?

Some People Use These as Place Boards

Some People Use These as Place Boards

Place is just like a very advanced “STAY” on a specific “thing”.

Many people use “place boards” a large piece of wood that is raised and elevated above the ground (a lot of this is done outside) and they teach their dogs to “stay or place” on that piece of wood no matter where the wood is placed.

They can even get their dogs to RUN as fast as they can to their board and lay down; this is taught in several steps with lots of great rewards.

Eventually the object that you use as “place” can be changed but in the beginning for the dog to understand it is important to keep it the same (like the big piece of wood); it makes it simpler for the dog.

Why I Don’t Use a Place Board

I have many, many good friends that do use big place boards; but most of them compete and it is really hard to move a large dog bed sized piece of wood all over the place.

It can be great outside and eventually as a learning stage, but I prefer something smaller and easier to manipulate and move.

My goal is to eventually use something small like a wash cloth (Imagine going to your friend’s house with your dog who might not like dogs; tossing a wash cloth to the floor and having your dog run over and lay there until you release him) but for true learning I start a bit bigger at first.

I Start With a Blanket or a Dog Bed

Knowing “Down” and “Stay” is a prerequisite or at the very least will make learning more effective and much faster!

What You Need

  • Your Dog
  • Collar and Leash
  • Blanket or Dog Bed
  • Great Treats
  • Clicker

Getting Started

dog bedMake sure your dog is on a leash, this controls his movements.  You don’t even have to use it unless he tries to get away or makes a big mistake with his “stay” but I get my dogs used to having their leashes on when we train in the house.

I plop the bed down on front of the dog.  Motion (the plop) stimulates the dog and makes him more willing to interact with it; usually by stepping on it.

Once he touches it click and reward.

The game is to get him to race to his bed, put all four paws on it and then lay down.

But we must begin small, so you click and reward for touching it with a toe.

If a whole paw goes onto the bed, jackpot  the behavior so that your dog understands the more of him is on the bed the better the reward.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a great game, the faster he shows the behavior the bigger the reward (unless he is soooo excited you are worried about the game getting nippy or scratchy).

I try and make my dog training as fun as possible.

Once he learns to put his body on the “place” item then you can begin telling him what he is doing and giving a command.

At first I use the commands he knows so that it conditions what he is doing with the behavior; so I would say “Down/Stay” as he gets on his place.  And I would continue to do this for quite a while as he is learning.

Now, move the bed or blanket around and if he understands he will follow it and jump on it and lay down and stay as he waits for his reward.

When he is racing around to lay on the bed I add the “place” command.  He already understands what I want, I now need to teach him that one word “PLACE” replaces “Down/Stay”.

I click for longer periods of time and endurance on his “Place” and jackpot for good choices.

In Order for Him to Learn

Just like “stay” in order for him to learn the behavior he has to make mistakes by getting up.

Don’t freak out or get mad or yell; simply let him know that that behavior won’t get him rewarded (I use a non reward marker like Nope) and take him back to his place.

It is crucial NOT to reward him as you have him lay back down!!!  Otherwise you are rewarding his choice to get up and break the command and not the behavior you want, at least that is how he sees it.

He has to understand that if he gets up he has to go back and do it again and he doesn’t get rewarded!

Now if your expectations were too high (your dog is capable of doing this for about a minute but you pushed him to 2 minutes), then try to reward him sooner next time so he can be successful and this can be fun!

Continue This Gamedog bed 2

Take this game outside and have him place.

Practice place while you watch a TV sitcom that is about 30 minutes so you can extend his time.  Don’t gasp in horror!  If your dog was a Service Dog he might be expected to perform a “place” for a few hours at a time!

Slowly add distractions.

Then you can begin shrinking the object or changing objects.

Imagine taking your dog to the park, tossing a wash cloth on the ground as you tell your dog “place”  and keep an eye on him (never leave him if you can’t trust him and always use a tether or a leash if you need to, to keep him safe) as you push your children in a swing.  Now the whole family can enjoy the park!

The more successful your dog is at the place command the more things you can do with your dog!


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  1. s kearns says:

    Your method of training is rewarding for both dog and owner. Win Win. Will be employing these methods on my new dog, not yet adopted.

    Another necessary command I train as soon as I get my dog is wait. From the first time I walk my new dog outside, I always stop very deliberately at the curb before crossing the street. I say “wait.” I don’t have him sit because that isn’t important to me. What is important is that he doesn’t move into the street without my control.


  2. Gabi says:

    While I think this sounds great, I always wonder when I see people using the “place” command (and to be honest you are literally the first positive reinforcement trainer I have ever seen use the place command), is why not just use a stay? What’s the difference between a down/stay and a place? If your dog has a solid down stay, why do you need the washcloth or the bed? I use mat work with my dog as a way to get her to relax and she knows the mat is a “safe place” but it’s not the same as a stay necessarily, and if I take her somewhere I need her to stay put I just ask her to do a down/stay rather than go to her mat. I guess I’d just like to hear your thoughts on why you think it’s important to teach both..


    Minette Reply:

    Place is easier and less stringent but usually lasts longer.

    I might do a “go to your place” for an hour or more the bed gives them a comfortable place to do this.

    Plus with Place you can shift and move around and get up and lay back down and act like a normal dog as long as he is in his “space” or “place”

    When I use “STAY” I want my dog laying in the “sphinx” position without moving until I say. It is more strict, it is more like for an obedience competition where you get points docked each time your dog moves or shifts or crawls.

    Plus it is easier for your dog to understand. Place has a specific boundary; like the outside of a bed where he knows he is not suppose to leave but has leniency when in the “place) it is much less confusing that stay right here but don’t move a muscle.

    If you took your dog’s mat she would be more comfortable and relaxed as you say. She could chill out on her mat when you visit friends without as much concern for breaking her down stay.

    I like very strict dog obedience that leaves no room for mistakes and I like casual dog obedience that means “hang out over there” but isn’t as strict.

    This helps my dogs be “dogs” but also compete at a high level and perform in a strict manner in emergencies.


    Gabi Reply:

    Thanks for the reply! So sort of like loose leash walking vs. heel position. I’ve never been strict on her down stay, she’s allowed to shift around or whatever she wants as long as her elbows don’t lift off the ground – obvious we’ve never done any competitive obedience huh? If we ever get into it I would just teach her a different command for the down stay but for now she’s perfectly happy sticking with agility where she spends most of her time standing up 😉


  3. mary says:

    Is it okay to take your 9 month pup to a dog park,where they run free


    Minette Reply:

    It depends on the dog and his exposure to other dogs.

    I wouldn’t start with a dog park! I would start with people I know’s dogs and then doggy day care where they control the environment and then work toward dog parks.

    I have mixed emotions about dog parks. Part of me loves them and the other part of me hates them.

    They can be super dangerous if the wrong dogs are there or you don’t have control of your dog or you don’t have a submissive player. And, one bad experience can last a lifetime.

    I had one dog that LOVED the dog park but all my others are not as submissively social with other dogs, so it depends on what you have and what you want 🙂


  4. sandy says:

    how do you corrent a dog that becomes aggressive toward walkers.
    My dog becomes aggressive by barking and lunging on her leash.
    She is a lab mix 2 yr old. She also likes to bark away squirrles in the yard from inside of the house. Anyone or thing near our house or walking down the street. She engages in this lungling and barking when she is inside and outside of the house. Any suggestions would be appreciated. My dog will also take on this behavior on walks away from our house. When others are walking on the other side of the street for example.
    Overall she is feaful of people and new objects.


    Minette Reply:

    We have a new aggression program. Contact customer service at info@thedogtrainingsecret to get access to all the videos and help


  5. Kelly says:

    I love the post- thank you for all you share. The one peice I’m unclear on is how you signal to your dog that the “place” has ended. Do you click? Do your dogs know from their training rewards that the click signals success and thus the end? And do you continue to provide treats when you use the command or only during training?



    Minette Reply:

    I release my dogs with an “all done” that signals they can go on about their business.


  6. Anita says:

    This post inspired me to try ‘place’ with my labradoodle. I used a bar mat and rewarded him when he put a foot on it. Within a few minutes he sat, then he lay down on it. He still did the same in the days after. Now to work on the ‘ stay on the mat’ for a set time – that may take longer.


  7. lorena says:

    my dog wont take treat rewards, is there something else? I think it might be issuesfrom the dogparks.She seems ok until i get somewhere besides home.


    Minette Reply:

    All dogs are rewarded by food at some level, food is a necessity of life read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/finding-dogs-motivator/

    and this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/nontraditional-motivators/


  8. Leevell says:

    I have one chihuahua, 3 years old and one Jack Russell 2-1/2 years old I’ve acquired from my son after offering to “dog sit” for him while he works Mon to Friday and was supposed to take her home on weekends but that has only happened twice in two years so now she’s “pretty much my dog. They’re pretty obedient when we’re home alone but when we go out and I leave them in the car for a few minutes as I go into a store, the Jack Russell will bark and get the chihuahua started and when I come out the store they’re barking at each other and anybody walking by the car. Any advice on how to get them to be quiet till I return? If I take the chihuahua alone, he’s quiet (believe it or not).


    Minette Reply:

    I would try a crate the less you see the less you want to bark… or you have to literally take them, and train them meaning you have to go back and teach them every time they bark


  9. Barbara says:

    Excellent article, as usual. I always learn something new from your them. Thanks for sharing y0ur knowledge with us.


  10. Debra says:

    Any suggestions for a pup (more of an adolescent really) who will go to his ‘bed’, take treats, but then as I try to extend the time he starts chewing on the bed. I’ve tried this with a nylon mat, a foam bed with sides covered in fleece, and a flat fleece bed. He’s usually fine for a bit and then thinks it’s a toy. We got him when he was 6.5 months old and he had a history of self-entertainment. Everything goes in the mouth. That said, he’s a sweetheart and loves training and attention. I sometimes think the playing with the mat or bed is asking for attention. What do you think?

    (LOVE your positive training techniques.)


    Minette Reply:

    he is frustrated and you aren’t rewarding just the staying behavior fast enough or intermittently enough so he is trying different behaviors. Reward more often and more intermittently and give him a bone on his bed if he feels he needs to chew http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/intermittent-reinforcement-building-dog-training-foundation/


    Debra Reply:

    Thanks so much. I do have a ‘history’ of expecting a bit too much too soon, so I’ll definitely try reinforcing a little more often in the beginning and changing the frequency. Thanks again! (Sometimes you forget the stuff you know…)


  11. Christina Stockinger says:

    I began this with making my dogs touching, sitting, laying and staying on a bank. Then I moved to a rug, then a mat, then a bed, using these words. I trained of course first each one alone and without adding a word . I wanted to make them distinguish between the four objects. I worked well,(with word) when a placed myself near to the spot I wanted them to go on to. But standing at a distance, they where confused and repetedly chose the wrong place. Meanwhile i’ve reduced this to two different objects with word. This works well.

    I f I now chose “bed” as their spedific place, where they should remain for a longer period of time, but not in a strict down stay or sit stay, would it be better to give it a new word like “place” in order ro indicate this spedific function? Or can I go on saying “bed”?.
    Secondly – Can a later on add a third and then fourth object by using the different words for them. Or is this of no use?


  12. Megan says:

    Hi there, I love your site. I realize that this post is old but I have a question. I would like a place command for my dog. He knows the command “crate time.” and is happy to be there for bedtime or when we leave. He goes in there to rest sometimes too on his own.

    I need a place command specifically for when we eat dinner. He doesn’t actually beg but he slinks around under the table and drives my husband crazy. When I try to put him in his crate during this time, he wines after just a couple minutes. He does not wine at other times while in the crate. I had been trying to get him to stay laying down where he could see us but wasn’t near the table. I’ve had a little success so far but I think the place command would be more effective in the situation.

    Anyhow, my question is should I try the place command or build on the “crate time” command? If I used the crate, I would like to use be able to leave the door open and have him stay there for a period of time. It would be his “place.” Would it be easier because he already kind of knows the command?


    Minette Reply:

    my crate command and my place command are different places.


  13. Shannon says:

    I love the place cue, and would like to have a cue that is first the same behavior but independent of the bed or other target. Basically a casual stay that allows for repositioning as long as the dog remains in the same spot. In your experience is this possible? If so, how would you create it?


  14. Sarah says:

    Not sure if it’s too late to post but can thenpalce command be his bed? He also plays with his bed -gnaws on it and moves it around the den so I didn’t know if this was good or bad. I do know however that will always be present in our home for place and we don’t have room to add a board -unless we removed the bed. We do however have a big backyard to do training.

    Is it also too late to teach a one year old golden this? Overall he’s great but gets super excited and jumpy when people visit.


    Minette Reply:



  15. sarah says:

    Any other suggestions beyond sure?


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