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How to Teach Your Dog the Place Command

You may have heard of the term “placing” your dog, or seen/heard someone tell their dog to go to their spot or go to their bed and the dog complies and goes to a specific spot. Well that is what you are going to learn how to train today. “Place” is an incredibly useful basic command. This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to teach your dog the Place Command. Personally I use this command when people come to the door, or my dogs are begging for table scraps, or even when I have the oven open and it’s hot and I don’t want their curious little noses getting too close or burned. Not only is it useful, once the command is mastered, it is a great command to begin your routine training sessions. If you’ve been following my training guides, you know I talk about routine and consistency in every one of them. My routine is to give my girls a Place command to start each session, so they know that it’s time to pay full attention to me (and they know if they are good and pay attention, they will receive treats).

When I first started teaching my girls to Place, they picked up on the command rather quickly and they treated their rugs like their safe havens. Now, no matter where their rugs are in the house, if I give them the Place Command, they will seek them out and wait patiently for me to come and give them a treat. I think that is pretty neat, however, my greatest success was when they went to their places even when a guest would ring our doorbell.

Teaching Your Dog the Place Command800px-dog place command

Techniques for teaching your dog the Place Command vary a little, but I am going to teach you the easiest technique that I know. You will need a clicker to mark the desired behavior, a rug/mat/bed that will act at the dog’s place, and yummy treats for rewards. Keep in mind that when you choose the rug/mat/bed that will be your dog’s spot, that will be his spot for the long haul. The idea of this command is to associate all good things with your dog being on that rug/mat/bed. He will feel safe and secure and happy as long as he is there. My two girls each have their own personal rug, and I highly recommend that you give each of your dogs (if you have multiple) their own personal place as well. You should also decide what word(s) you are going to use for the command. Personally, my command is “Place”, but I have also heard of people using “Go to your place” and “Go to your spot”. As long as you are consistent, it does not matter what you choose.

Steps for Teaching “Place”:

  1. Put a treat in front of your dog’s nose and start to lead him onto his rug.
  2. As he starts to get fully onto the rug, say “Place!”
  3. As soon as all four of his paws are on the rug, click to mark the behavior and reward with the treat.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until your dog is going to the rug all by himself when you say “Place!”
  5. Once he is going to the rug without you leading him with food, you can add a hand signal. Personally, I point my index finger in the general direction of the rug.

Advanced Place:

  1. Every time your dog goes to his place, give him a down command and make him lie down before you click and reward. With repetition he will go to his place and automatically lie down without needing the second command.
  2. Begin adding the three D’s (distance, duration, distractions) to reinforce the command.
  3. Move the rug to different areas/rooms in your house and start teaching the Place Command from the beginning. Your dog will soon associate his rug with the Place Command from anywhere in the house.

Bonus Challenge:Teach Place Command Outdoors

Once your dog is reliably going to his place on command, try having a friend come to your house and spend some time helping you train. Have your friend ring the doorbell and get your dog to go to his place before you open the door. Extra bonus points if you can get him to stay on the rug until you release him to greet your guest.

You can also practice Placing outside using a small dog cot or other object for your dog to sit/lay upon.

If you have questions or need additional instructions or descriptions, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Nate

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for these tips! I somehow trained my dog to go sit on a towel after a wet walk, but I don’t remember how I did it. I wanted to train her to go to other places, so I’m glad I found this post!

    Do you think it’d be too confusing for my dog if I gave her another place that was more permanent than a towel on the floor? I was thinking I could make her dog bed another place.

    • It will not be confusing as long as you give the different places different names. If she already knows the towel as “Place” then you would want to name the new place something different. For example, my girls know their rugs as “Place”, but I have also taught them the names of places in other rooms. There is a large rug in our kitchen that, when I tell them to go to the Kitchen, they know to go and sit on that rug.

  2. Hi Nate,

    This was a fantastic article, I really enjoyed reading it. I don’t think that enough people understand that training your dog isn’t optional, it’s a necessity for their health, safety and mental health also. My Dad and my Step-Mother adopted our dog Rocky when he was just a pup and had been abused by the people who owned him before. After that he began having EXTREME separation anxiety with my stepmum and it didn’t matter how much I tried to stress to them that it wasn’t cute that he cried for hours on end at the door, or that he jumped a foot and a half in the air and cried for 15-20 minutes when she came home.

    What really helped him when I saw him a lot was training him how to sit, stay and come on demand, as well as shake! Whenever I’m around he’s far less anxious and knows that I’m top dog in the house, but just to be clear I never hit him or anything like that, I only used positive reinforcement.

    I’m getting a little off topic, but I just was really impressed that you definitely have a lot of knowledge, so thanks for sharing that. Everything I’ve always done has been instinctual.

    Thanks again and all the best,

    Katia

    • I think you’ve hit an important point here Katia. When our dogs receive training from all of the people in the house, they realize that all of their people are to be treated as alphas (even though they still have their favorite alpha). You’ve also brought up the fact that training is not optional. I’ve seen instances where people didn’t understand why their dog was misbehaving and they were considering taking the dog back to the rescue or the animal shelter. In those cases, I always asked the question: what sort of training do you conduct with your dog? I would get looked at like I was wearing a funny hat and face paint. After explaining to these people about the importance of training with their dogs, I revisited them in a week to find night and day difference in their relationship. There is a special bond that comes with training with our canine companions.

  3. This seems such a great way to teach your dog the place command. I have an old dog who we rescued so it was fairly difficult to train him anything at first. If only I had access to your post then! Having said that he’s quite good at going on his bed when told.
    If we get another dog I will be referencing this for sure. You make teaching the command sound so achievable.

    • Thanks for visiting Charlotte! Lots of older dogs know/understand certain words and are sometimes easier to train than young dogs. I think that if you can remain consistent and patient, your dog can learn almost any command. Don’t get frustrated and don’t give up!

      Nate

  4. I love this site, there’s always something new to learn and the place command is a great way to keep your dog safe and away from hot ovens and other dangers in the home.
    I think I probably taught our dogs the place command using the word ‘bed’ instead. Being very small dogs, we used to move their beds around the house. We also put the beds in the car so we didn’t actually have a blanket as such.
    Our two dogs which lived to 17 years, were taught not to go into the kitchen unless invited. It was amazing how they would sit just behind the threshold of the kitchen door waiting intently for the command to come and eat their dinners.
    Having different words for, what is in effect, the same command is such a good idea. With our new dog/s we will probably be using ‘bed’ for the house and ‘place’ for when we visit family or perhaps a restaurant which allows dogs. Another great post! Ches

  5. Great tips for teaching a dog the place command. I have never considered to teach my dog this command before. I think it will be very helpful, because my dog keeps following me everywhere I go when I’m using the vacuum! If I create a place for him to stay, I will not be worrying step in his feet when I’m cleaning my room.

    Thank you very much! 🙂

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