Place is a designated spot for your dog to hang out. It can be a dog bed, blanket, raised cot, etc. Think of it like a parking spot for your dog. The place command is personally one of my favorite commands. I believe strongly every dog should learn this command because it is so useful. It's the command you never knew you needed. Here's why:
The place command isn't just about obedience. It helps with:
Improving impulse control by giving them a job
Teaching a dog how to relax by developing an off switch
Providing clear boundaries
Adding structure to their day
Setting your dog up for success when teaching other behaviors and commands
Better walks and relaxed car rides
Other behavior problems such as separation anxiety, begging, barking, chew on inappropriate items, etc
This command can be utilized in so many different ways, both in the home and out. Here are some examples when to use the place command:
Pre-walk activity- Putting the leash on your dog most likely will jazz your dog up. Put your dog on their place to chill a bit before you head out for a walk.
Post walk activity- You just fulfilled your dog's physical needs, so why not fulfill their mental needs? Having your dog a little tired would be beneficial for those starting out.
When company comes over- Having your dog place gives them a job to do instead of letting them choose an undesirable job for themselves, such as jumping on guest, stealing food or door rushing.
When watching TV, working out, cleaning, cooking, etc- Having your dog on place gives your dog a spot to hang out and chill while you are preoccupied. While your dog is practicing doing nothing they are really doing EVERYTHING at the same time. Impulse control, and working on an off switch during distractions is tough!
For the most part, dogs pick up this command pretty quick. This is because the dog learns early on that just like their crate, their cot is their safe place. Implement consistent patterns (pre-walk, during food prep, etc) to help your dog start to relax.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need?
You will need a raised cot, dog bed, towel, blanket, mat, or something similar with definitive boarders. You will also need a 6 foot leash, treats/food, and a lot of patients to start.
What are the rules?
4 paws must stay on the bed at all times
Stepping off before being released is a no, no
Release word = training is all done
Keeping a schedule will help get your dog to relax
Never have your dog in place when you leave the house, or go to sleep. You wouldn't want them the break their command without you being there to correct them.
Consistency is key
The end goal is to practice at least 3 times a day for at least 30+ minutes each session. Vary the time to keep your dog guessing. Calmness is like a muscle. Use it or lose it.
What if my dog won't get on the cot?
Flip the cot over (so the legs are up in the air). This will make the cot less intimidating for your dog to get on/off. Encourage your dog to interact with the cot (sniff, eat off of it, walk across) a bit before flipping it back over to try again.
My dog won't say on the bed, what do I do?
Start slow. Work on the 3 D's--Duration, Distance and Distraction in that order. For duration, stay near by so you can coach your dog. For distance, take a step or two away to expand the distance every session or so. You can use a tie back (leash attached to their collar and a door knob, couch leg, etc) to help keep your dog from attempting to leave before being released. For distraction, up the level of distraction slowly over time. Maybe start with playing audio, toss a toy, toss food, put a food bowl on the floor, adding people, leave the room for a second, practice in front yard, practice in the backyard, do a session at the park, etc.
What if I do not have time to train my dog?
Training your dog is a lifestyle. Use place for your dog while you do everyday tasks such as cleaning, making food, watching tv, working out, etc. It's up to us to teach our dogs how to behave in our would, and place makes it doable!
Raised cot or regular bed?
Raised cots are the best when first starting out. They help create very clear boundaries which makes it easier to teach the dog the command. If your dog prefers a regular bed you can place the bed on top of the raised bed. When your dog becomes a master of the command, you can use a flat bed or small rug as a great challenge when working on the place.
Crate or Place?
Crating and having your dog place are very similar, but also very different. You can view place as a wall-less crate, however there are still times where a crate would be the best option for your dog. For example, you should use the crate when you can't see your dog or when you leave the house or go to sleep, when your dog eats their meals, or if you need a break. Having your dog on place is more challenging for them because it is easy for your dog to step off. In a crate, your dog isn't able to step out of a lock crate. However, you should keep using both in your routine. Crate training is important and you do not want to lose that skill. Utilizing both the crate and place cot daily, you should start to see their sate of mind change as they learn how to use their off switch.
Space is limited. Can I just use my dog's crate instead of a place cot?
Sure can! What I would recommend trying is to crate your dog with the crate door open in times where a place command would be appreciate. This creates the same challenge as if your dog was on place.
My dog doesn't look happy? What am I doing wrong?
You are not doing anything wrong. Your dog is just acting calm. Calm dogs make better decisions and are less anxious. When you give your release word, your dog will be right back to the tail-wagging happy pup they have always been. There is a time and place for that and a time and place for calmness. No need to feel bad for them. Calm dogs are happy dogs. Let's normalize that.
Kathlyn Lawrence of All Jazzed Up Pet Services LLC is a Certified Professional Trainer (CPT) with years of experience training dogs and working with animals. For more information on our Pet Services please visit our website.