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.
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”:
- Put a treat in front of your dog’s nose and start to lead him onto his rug.
- As he starts to get fully onto the rug, say “Place!”
- As soon as all four of his paws are on the rug, click to mark the behavior and reward with the treat.
- Repeat steps 1-3 until your dog is going to the rug all by himself when you say “Place!”
- 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.
- 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.
- Begin adding the three D’s (distance, duration, distractions) to reinforce the command.
- 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.
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.