How to Train “Place”
Things can get pretty chaotic around the holiday season. Of course, our dogs want to join in on all the excitement too. You are trying to cook, clean, wrap presents, entertain guests, and your dog is begging at the table or counter, jumping on people, playing with the wrapping paper, the works. So what to do?
Place is an excellent command to train your dog for such circumstances. It is a simple way to get dogs out of your way and keep them safe from all the yummy holiday goodies. The idea of this command is that you say the command, “place,” and your dog walks over to a bed or mat and lies down. You also train a release word with this command and increase the duration during training so that your dog will stay there as long as you need them to. If your dog already has a “crate” command, or “go to bed”, you’re already done! It may seem unsightly to keep a dog crate or bed out in plain sight while you have guests around, but if you want your dog out of the way, this is a great idea. If your dog enjoys their crate, it can be a good idea to keep it out just in case they become overwhelmed with all the holiday chaos.
To start, bring out your clicker and treats. Sit on the floor near your dog’s “place.” Lure your dog onto the place, then click and treat once your dog steps on it with at least the front paws. Repeat this step until your dog begins to understand that they are being rewarded for stepping on the place. Start pairing the command with the behavior (place, bed, crate, or mat are common commands used for this trick). You can also start using a hand gesture, such as a point, rather than luring with the treat in your hand. Slowly start moving farther away from the place. If your dog is having a hard time when you are further from the place, move back in the training a few steps. Once your dog is OK with this step, you can start introducing distractions. While your dog is on the place, you can begin moving around the place, or pretend to start making some food. You can also begin to move the place to different locations. Only move onto the next step or distraction when your dog has proven reliable in previous steps.