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!
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”?
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
Make 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.
MAKE THIS FUN!!!
This 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 Game
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!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.