The Number One Tool to Teach Your Dog
The Number One Tool to Teach Your Dog

The Number One Tool to Teach Your Dog

Sit. Down. Off. Stay. Leave it.

Those are all pretty great commands or cues to teach your dog. But Your Happy Dog Coach believes that the number one tool to have in your toolbox is PLACE.
The Power of “Place”: Why Teaching Your Dog This Command Matters

Among the many tools you can teach your dog, “Place” stands out as a game-changer. This seemingly simple trick holds profound importance in your dog’s training journey and daily life. Let’s explore why “Place” is one of the most crucial things to teach your dog and how it can enhance their behavior, safety, and your overall relationship.

1. Safety and Control

“Place” is your secret weapon in situations where control is essential. When your dog knows where their designated spot is, you can ensure their safety and the safety of others. Whether you’re answering the door, welcoming guests, or handling distractions, your dog staying in their “Place” keeps everyone secure.

2. Management of Excitement

Dogs, especially energetic ones, can become overexcited in certain situations. The “Place” command helps channel their enthusiasm into a controlled behavior. By sending them to their spot, you provide an outlet for their energy while maintaining order.

3. Focus and Impulse Control

Teaching “Place” requires your dog to exercise impulse control and focus on a specific task. This skill translates to other areas of their training, helping them become more attentive and responsive overall.

4. Positive Social Experiences

When you have guests or other dogs over, a dog who knows “Place” can participate in social interactions without overwhelming others. This leads to more positive experiences for everyone involved.

5. Enhanced Bonding

Teaching “Place” is an opportunity for you and your dog to work together closely. As you guide them to their designated spot and reward their compliance, you’re reinforcing your bond and establishing your role as a positive leader.

6. Mental Stimulation

Remaining in one spot requires mental effort from your dog. It engages their mind and prevents boredom, especially useful on rainy days or when outdoor activities are limited.

7. Versatility

“Place” can be adapted to various contexts. Whether you’re at home, in a park, or at a friend’s house, having your dog settle on their “Place” adds consistency to different environments.

The “Place” command is a powerful tool that enhances safety, behavior, and the quality of life for both you and your dog. By teaching this command, you’re investing in your dog’s training, creating positive social experiences, and promoting overall well-being. This seemingly simple command holds the key to a harmonious and enjoyable relationship with your furry friend.

How do you teach “Place”?

Teaching your dog new things is always fun, and can be frustrating. If it gets frustrating, just take a deep breath, start at the beginning, do one thing he or she can be successful at, and then end the training session. Training or practice sessions don’t have to be long, and they should always be fun, ending on a positive note for the pup.

1. The first step is choosing an actual “Place”:

Select a specific spot where you want your dog to settle. It could be a mat, a dog bed, or any designated area.

2. Luring and Rewarding:

  • Step 1: With treats in hand, lead your dog to the chosen spot using a gentle lure.

  • Step 2: Once they step onto the spot, say “Place” and reward them with a treat and praise.

3. Building Duration:

  • Step 3: Gradually extend the time your dog stays on their “Place” before rewarding them.

  • Step 4: This step can go one of two ways. You can either use a verbal cue like “Stay” to indicate they should remain on their spot, or you can use what’s called an implied stay, which means that whatever cue you give them, they’re going to do until you release them from it. This is called a release cue (makes sense, right?) You may have heard some people use the word “break”, “free”, or “ok” to release their dogs. We can dive more into this cue later.

4. Adding Distance:

  • Step 5: Take a step or two away from your dog’s spot and encourage them to stay.

  • Step 6: Return and reward them for staying in place

  • Repeat this over and over, changing the amount of steps away as your dog is able to manage the last distance. If, at any point, your dog is unable to stay in place, say nothing and just repeat the previous steps, starting at step one. The goal is for your dog to have fun with this and enjoy themselves, so they’re more willing to want to do it in the future.

5. Introducing Distractions:

  • Step 7: Slowly introduce distractions while your dog is on their “Place.” This could include tossing a toy or having someone walk by. Start with small distractions at first, gradually growing to bigger ones as your dog is successful.

  • Step 8: Reward them well for maintaining their position despite the distraction.

6. Gradual Progression:

  • Step 9: Over time, increase the distance and duration of “Place” while introducing various distractions.

7. Consistency and Patience:

  • Step 10: Be consistent in your cues and rewards. Patience is key as your dog learns to associate the command with the desired behavior.

Teaching “Place” through positive reinforcement is a rewarding journey for both you and your dog. By creating positive associations with the command and providing rewards for compliance, you’re nurturing their understanding and responsiveness. Remember, each step forward is a victory. As your dog masters “Place,” you’re fostering an environment of cooperation, trust, and delightful learning, while also keeping your dog safe.

Let’s talk about some scenarios where place is going to be useful:

  • A visitor arrives and your dog has a tendency to run out the door when it’s opened. You put your dog in place to keep them from running out the door.
  • You’re out for a walk and a strange off-leash dog shows up. You put your dog in place so that you can focus on the strange dog, ensuring they don’t get close to your dog, or to check for tags, use your leash, etc. (This is a super high distraction and will need tons of practice!)
  • You’re walking on a wooded trail and see a deer run through the trees, or a porcupine… or maybe a skunk! You definitely don’t want your dog to chase, or be curious, so you put them in place and let them watch from a safe distance.
  • It’s dinner time. You’re cooking or eating. There are many human foods that are unsafe for your dog. So they go to their place and then you can reward them with safe foods at your discretion, and you won’t need to worry about them eating something that can hurt them.
  • A plate or glass gets broken and you need to go into the other room to get the broom. You put your dog in place so they don’t cut themselves on anything sharp until you get it cleaned up.
  • You’re at the park with your child and they get hurt, you have to attend to them. You may need to focus your attention on your child, but you need to ensure your dog stays in one spot…. there’s a place for that.
Can you think of any other scenarios where place would be useful?
If “place” is something you’d like to teach your dog, but you aren’t sure how to get started, contact Your Happy Dog Coach and we can make a plan together to help you meet this goal, and any others you might have for your pup.