A Place for Everyone: Place Training Your Dog
Place Training. It's Simple, Really.
The dog learns to stay within a defined area for long periods of time. They don’t have to stay in a sit or a down; they can get up and stretch and rearrange, but no matter what, they must stay within the lines.
It’s easiest for a puppy, or dog, new to “place training,” to start with an elevated surface. They must make a more deliberate decision to step down off of an elevated surface than they do to walk off of a dog bed or a mat. The perfect elevated surface: Kuranda beds. These elevated beds are also great for senior dogs that have arthritis or other joint issues because it gets them off the hard floor. Kuranda beds are durable, chew-proof, and washable.
To start your puppy on place training, watch the video below. The steps are simple:
- Place your dog on the Kuranda bed.
- When the pup bolts off of place and takes off running (which WILL happen), pick him up and place him back on the bed.
- Remain quiet. There’s no need for any verbal correction.
A Few Pointers:
- For larger dogs that you can’t pick up, hook a leash to their collar so you can guide them back to place.
- Don’t stress if it takes some time for your dog to get the idea. Depending on the dog, it can take some time for them to understand what it is you are wanting. For older dogs, it can take even more time because they have old habits.
- It’s all about consistency. Try not to let them break from place and self-reward by getting food, water, or a toy. Grab them and put them back, EVERY time!
- Don’t leave the bed that you’re using for place training down when the dog has free roam of the house. If you do, they will choose to get on the bed, then choose, on their own, to get off. It will condition the act of breaking from place as acceptable sometimes.
- Start small. Train in short sessions. When they decide to relax on place, reward them by releasing them and letting them have some playtime. By doing this, the dog will realize that when they bolt off of place they get put back on, but when they relax and lie down quietly, they get to get off and play. You should work on building duration over many sessions.
- Choose a release cue and use it every time. A simple “out” or “let’s go” will do. Remember to give your pup the cue before letting them leave the place. Many times, after you have placed the dog back several times, the dog chooses to remain sitting when you give the release cue because they don’t know what it means. To teach this cue, just say the word while gently encouraging them to get up and walk off the bed with your hands. NEVER call the dog off the place without saying this cue word.
- It’s important to remember to always walk over to your dog on place before giving the release cue. Never call them from across the room or this can teach them it’s ok to leave the place when you aren’t nearby.
- TRAIN, DON’T TEST. This is a great training “mantra.” Do NOT test your dog. Train your dog. Be in the moment, physically and mentally, while working with your pup on “place”. If you put them there and leave the room they have the opportunity to break from place and go play, undoing your previous progress.
Now that you’ve been working hard on place training with your dog and your dog understands they are supposed to stay on the “place” and remain calm and quiet, you can move to step two.
Step Two is Simple. Build Duration.
How do you do this? Once your puppy is on his Kuranda bed and quietly minding his own business you can sit nearby and let your dog spend some quality time on his place. You can watch TV, read, or work on something, but make sure it won’t take your main focus away from your dog. You need to always have one eye on him so when he gets up you can place him back in a sit before he leaves the place. If your puppy takes a nap the minute he wakes up you should give him the release cue and take him off the bed and straight outside. He will appreciate the opportunity to potty.
Continue this and once the puppy is reliably remaining on place while you sit nearby you can move to the next step, walking about the room while your dog is on place.
A few things to remember while place training:
- Never give the puppy the opportunity to get off of place. Always try to be a step ahead and catch them before they get all the way off and place them back on the bed.
- Always give the dog the release cue before allowing them to leave the place. If you let them leave without giving them the cue, they will learn they can exit the defined place area without the cue.
- While training, remove all distractions in the room. Set your puppy up to succeed. Keep the area, the other dogs and people, and yourself quiet during training.
- Don’t kick your feet, hang your hand over the chair, or lean over the puppy while he’s on place. This is very distracting, and you’re basically inviting the dog to play with you.
- It’s usually a good idea to work on place after a walk or play session. Your puppy will be ready to chill out and relax.
Place Becomes a Habit in Step 3.
Once your pup is reliable on place while you aren’t standing next to him but instead sitting and watching TV, reading a book, etc. you can move on to moving around the room. Your puppy is likely going to want to get up and walk away with you, but you must remember to keep your eyes on him as you stand and walk so you can stop him before he leaves the Kuranda bed. Take it slow, only walking a few steps at a time, until your puppy chooses to remain lying down when you stand up and walk away. Over time, you can step out of sight then immediately return and reward your dog for staying on place. Build duration slowly, and always be in the moment with the dog.
- Billie Claire Darby