How to Teach “Place”

I teach “Place” daily in my training with EVERY puppy and dog.

A pup or dog is expected to remain on “Placeuntil invited off.

“Place” can be a that is comfortable for the dog with very clear edges like a dog bed with a big, rolled edge or folded blanket.

I use raised dog beds because it makes it abundantly clear to both the dog and the human when they are stepping off and they are really comfortable for the dog.

The use of “Placeteaches your dog so many things:

  • patience
  • impulse control
  • the ability to be calm in the face of a known trigger like doorbells or food
  • Adding duration to a future ‘down’ or ‘sit’
  • relaxation
  • overall calm state of mind
  • respect of space

Place’ is where a dog can relax, chill out, hang out, eat a meal, get softly brushed, etc.

So “Place” is the place where all good things happen!

Here is what “Place” is not: Place” is not punishment. “Place is never used in anger.

Place” is not commanded with an angry or cautionary tone. “Place” is not a spot for you to go off and forget about your pup. Place is not a grueling order or event like a ‘military style’  sitting atop a tiny board until you break emotionally or physically.  Supervision is still very much a part of “Place”, especially when dealing with a pup. You begin “Place” with a pup in very small doses. I put a pup on “Place” at the beginning of a commercial and invite them off at the end of the commercial. Then, I go for two commercials and I build from there.

You guide your pup on to ‘Place’ by giving direction from your lead or pup’s collar and guide them onto place; and you can even toss a treat onto “Place” as they step onto it and they magically find a treat there. Once on “Place”, you let go of your lead or let go of the collar. The goal is that you are not touching your pup, or holding the lead, while on “Place.”

The goal is that pup stays on “Place” until invited off.

Yes, that does mean that if he gets off, you need to put him back on, IMMEDIATELY. And yes, that means EVERY TIME he gets off uninvited. Try to move your pup back on to place with no hands at all, whenever possible. Yes, you gently move them back with your legs!  First, I ask humans to use as few words as possible while pup is on “Place”. I am asking both dog and humans to begin to clue into each other and to be aware of what is going on. If the pup looks like he is going to step off, breathe, but move in towards him and give him a warning sound. If he stays on and looks at you, relax and take a ½ step back. Then, as he is able to tolerate it, keep stepping ½ step back slowly. Keep breathing!

Eventually, you can slowly begin to move around the pup while on “Place”. You slowly add distance, duration and distractions as pup is able to stay on “Place” without popping off.  Gradually, you will add things that ‘trigger’ your dog, like doorbells, open doors, toys, etc. 

How you exit place is as important as the calm you have achieved while upon it. Once your pup is calm, quiet and relaxed,THAT is when you invite him to you by quietly going to him, taking his leash and gently asking him to come to you in that same, delicious calm state of mind. Just experiment as to what your body needs to do to be ‘inviting’ so that your pup wants to come to you. Perhaps you need to squat down and open your arms, perhaps you need to snap your fingers and smile, or you might need to tap your leg with an encouraging tone when you say his name. You see, by not talking or barking out commands, you are actually learning better body language and improving your touch, your tone AND your timing. Eventually, you will figure out what it takes to get that pup to come to you — with no words at all, other than some encouraging “Good Boy” or “YES” when he is headed in the right direction. Once he arrives, he gets a calm praise and pet! Your pup has his lead on…so if he needs a bit more guidance, you can assist him with the lead by gently bringing him to you. Always finish with calm praise and a pet when he gets to you. Ultimately, NOT COMING when invited is NOT on the list of available options!

Place teaches our pups as much as it teaches us. Both partners are learning patience, consistency, and mutual understanding of each other’s body language. It’s a powerful thing when we establish a calm state of mind and clear lines of communication with our pups, and when we learn how to do it with no words at all….PRICELESS!

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