Dog Behavior & Training

Teaching your Dog the Place Command

Learn more about teaching your dog the place command in our latest dog training article.
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Written by Kevin

This simple yet versatile command is something that belongs in every dogs repertoire. The “place” command is also often referred to as “spot”, “bed”,  or “settle”. The basic premise is the ability to point to a spot and have your dog lie down and wait – until given a release command.

This is perfect for situations where you need to keep your dog isolated (or calm them down!) for the safety of themselves or the sake of other people!

Training the “Place” Command (Step-by-Step)

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Gathering supplies to teach Charlie a new trick - treats, treat pouch, clicker and towel.

You don’t need much for this trick – which is one of the best things about it. After it has been learned you can do it virtually anywhere.

Step 2: Charge Your Clicker

Using a clicker to teach Charlie the "Place" command

Before any session of clicker training you will want to reacquaint them with the device. This is done through a quick “charging” session of clicking and feeding treats. No trick required – just associating positive feelings to the sound of each click.

If your dog has never used a clicker, welcome to the world of positive behavior training! Using a clicker is one to easiest ways to positively reinforce desired behavior. Stick with this step until your dog consistently associates the click with a treat. You’ll know the clicker is “charged” when your dog stops whatever he/she is doing when they hear the sound to look at you for a treat!

Step 3: Introduce the Target

Next up you will introduce a towel (or whichever target you have chosen), by laying it out on the floor. When we worked on this step, we chose a towel because of its versatility and mobility. Even if your end goal is for your dog to go to his/her bed with this command, using an everyday object will help with generalization as that item can always be placed on a bed or in a spot later on (see our bonus video at the bottom of this post).

The goal of this step is to reinforce your dog whenever he or she interacts with the towel. Don’t be too picky at first! Even when your dog looks or leans in it’s direction that is a good sign! Move around your chosen “place” to encourage your dog to explore it. Work in a small room or keep your dog attached to a leash to help focus their attention where you want it. Also, keep distractions like favorite toys out of the room. At this point, they will be eagerly and excitedly trying to figure out what you want them to do and some environemental controls  will go a long way! As soon as you see a nose, paw, or body part on the towel-click and treat, click and treat!

Continue working on this action until they get the idea that standing directly on the towel and ultimately laying on it is the sweet spot! You can accomplish this by going slowly and reinforcing them less often for simply putting a paw on the towel and only when they lay on it.

Step 4: Add the Command

Now that your dog is starting to understand that the towel is a good place to be, it is time to add the command you wish to pair with the action. We use “place”, but other common varients include “home”, “bed”, and “spot.” Whichever word you choose, you will want to start repeating it (along with the click and treat) every time your dog gets onto their target.

Step 5: Add Time & Generalize 

Once your dog can consistently lay on their spot when given the command, think about adding some sophistication to your trick! You can turn it into a steady obedience command by adding time to their stay on target or moving the target item into new spots, on a dog bed, etc. (see below) After a bit of time you will be able to point to just about anywhere and get your dog to settle!

Great Job!

Now that your pup has mastered this skill, learn how to teach the reverse with dog boundary training! Also, make sure to visit the links below where our fellow pet bloggers are teaching more great tricks as a part of the annual Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop!

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