Updated: Mar 28
At Full Kontrol Canine, the "place" command is the first behavior we teach dogs. For dog owners, teaching this behavior is an absolute MUST.
It's easier than you think...
There's only a couple of minutes left until your guests arrive for your upcoming party. You're so excited to show your guests all the hard work you put into this party. The decorations are up, the tables are set and oh my... the food looks delicious! Perhaps it's a good idea to let your dog join in on the fun? It seems like there's no harm in that since your dog is friendly and a bundle of joy. Besides, what could go wrong? You let your dog out of its crate and leave the room to prepare your outfit. Everything is fine until something terrible happens.
You hear crashing, barking and glass breaking. When you come back to check what made the sound, everything is ruined! All the decorations you painstakingly prepared are torn apart. The food you poured your heart into; gone. Amidst the chaos is your dog, happily devouring the last bit of turkey that you spent the last 6 hours preparing.
What could you have done to prevent this catastrophe?
Why Teach My Dog the "Place" Command?
We all want our dog's to be around us and join us in special events. After all, we consider them part of the family. However, sometimes our dogs can exhibit nuisance behaviors like eating off the counters, jumping on guests, and even barking at relatives. These behaviors can become problematic not only for you and your guests, but for your dog as well. A lot of these behaviors that are being mentioned generally happen out of boredom and stress; usually the combination of the two. We need to give our dogs something to do that will stimulate them mentally and hold them accountable. We can do this AND have our dogs in our presence with the "place" command.
Fact: This is the staff at Full Kontrol Canine's FAVORITE behavior to teach.
"Instead of trying to prevent your dog from doing these annoying behaviors, teach them to go to their place as an alternative response." - AKC.org
How Do I Teach My Dog "Place"?
We can start teaching Place by setting down either a bed, an elevated cot, or perhaps a mat on the floor in a spot where there are no distractions. Distractions to our dogs can be humans, toys, food, and even other dogs. Attach a leash and collar to your dog and grab food or treats that your dog likes. We want to pick treats that make our dog want to work for them but not treats that make our dog overwhelmingly excited that he or she can't focus.
When ready, follow the following steps:
Stand a 1-2 feet away from the place mat and say your dog's name to gain his/her attention
Say "Place" and immediately guide your dog to the place mat
Once all four paws are on the mat, say the marker, "Yes!" and treat your dog for a great job! (This is called Positive-Reinforcement where we want to increase the frequency of this behavior by giving our dog something he or she enjoys like affection, treats or even toys)
At this point it is okay to let your dog step off the place mat. We want our dog to absolutely love being on place and any added pressure will make it less enjoyable for him/her.
Repeat as my times as needed until your dog can willfully go to place without being guided
The Next Step: Adding Distance
Once your dog has captured the place command, we want to be able to send our dog to place from multiple locations regardless of where we are at. Fun tip, dogs learn by experiences and "images". This means, if we only teach our dog to place from the coach that is 3 feet away from the place cot, he or she will not be able to do it from the kitchen which is 20 feet away from the cot. Your dog will look at you crazy and become confused. We need to paint the picture for them and teach them, "hey dog, you can also go to place from here, here, and also all the way from here!" To do this, we just have to increase the distance from which we send our dog to Place from after each training session.
Here's what it may look like if we want to send our dog to place from the kitchen:
Send the dog to place 1-2 feet away from the place mat.
Once all four paws are on the place mat, mark with "Yes!" and treat.
It's okay if your dog steps off at this point,
Walk towards the kitchen by about another 1-2 feet of distance.
Send your dog to place.
Once all four paws are on the place mat, mark with "Yes!", walk to your dog and treat.
Repeat and increment the distance little by little until you have reached the point where you want to send your dog to place from.
The Next Step: Adding Duration
Once your dog can successfully travel to the place mat on command 9 out of 10 times when he or she is told to, we can add duration to the place command!
If you have been following along, at this current moment, your dog should be able to go to place on command successfully without hesitation. However, it is likely that once your dog reaches the place mat, he or she will step off immediately. One of the rules for the place command is that our dog should not be leaving the place mat until we release them. To teach our dog to not only go to the place mat but remain on it, we need to teach this behavior using Negative-Reinforcement. Negative-Reinforcement simply means we take away something uncomfortable from the dog to increase the frequency of a behavior. This can be pressure from a leash and collar or even body pressure (closing the distance between you and your dog and invading their space). For this post, we will just be using the leash and collar.
Now that we have a firm understanding of how to add duration, let's teach our dog!
When ready, follow the following steps:
Send your dog to place using what we have already worked on but keep the distance very short. We want to be able to catch our dog with the leash if he or she steps off.
Once your dog is on place with four paws, say "Yes!" and treat your dog for a job well done!
The moment your dog takes a single paw off the place mat and touches the floor, say "No" and immediately guide him/her back to the place cot using the leash. The pressure applied to your dog should be firm but not overwhelming.
Once your dog has all four paws back on the place mat release your leash pressure and say "Yes!" at the same time, but do not treat. We do not want to develop a pattern behavior where our dog will step off the mat just so he or she can get a treat. In this instance, the reward is our vocal praise and also the pressure from the leash being released. (Negative-Reinforcement)
Attempt to count to a low number like 5 seconds.
Once you reach your target time (5 seconds), in an exciting tone say "Break!" and move your body away from the place mat. This will entice your dog to move off the place mat and will tell your dog that he or she can be a dog and can take a break from working! Great job!
Wait a couple of seconds until attempting this sequence again.
Repeat until your dog can reach a good duration of 30 seconds to 1 minute without any intervention from you.
Once the benchmark is reached, end your training. You can start this training again once some time has passed. We don't want to overwhelm and stress our dog out. Doing so will inhibit training effectiveness.
Next Step: Adding Distractions
Once your dog can place without any problems without distractions for at least 30 minutes, the final step is to add distractions. We can not immediately expect our dog to not step off the place mat while life happens in front of them. They haven't seen that picture yet and are highly likely to step off. We can teach our dog to stay on the place mat by adding in very little distractions while our dog in placing on the place mat.
Here's what adding distractions may look like:
Send your dog to place from a short distance. We want to be able to catch our dog with the leash if he or she steps off.
Once all four paws have reached the place mat, say "Yes!" but do not treat. At this moment we will only reward our dog when he or she doesn't react to the distraction.
While your dog is paying attention to you, take a treat that your dog finds enjoyable and throw it on the ground.
If your dog happens to step off the place mat, say "No", then guide your dog to the place mat.
If your dog does not step off the place mat, say "Yes!" and give a treat to your dog for a job well done.
important note: keep using different distractions and mix it up.
There is a lot that goes into training your dog and honestly, sometimes it can be stressful and confusing. The important thing to remember is to maintain a calm and positive attitude. If you have any questions regarding anything dog training, leave a comment or visit our contact page and send us an email.
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