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Training Tip Tuesday With Jodi

The many uses of the "Place" cue.

By DCSPCA Canine Lead Trainer Jodi

The Place cue is one of my very favorite commands! It allows me to go to a coffee shop and read, do my work at home without distractions, and cook in the kitchen without tripping over someone who is underfoot.

What is the Place cue?

The Place cue is an essential command that will teach your dog to settle down in any situation. It gives your dog a job to do instead of the job they choose for themself. When your dog chooses their own job, it usually displays as undesirable behaviors, such as:

  • Barking at the doorbell

  • Rushing to the door

  • Jumping up on people

  • Begging at the dinner table

Put simply, “Place” means “Go-to-the-spot-I-tell-you-and-stay-there-until-I-release-you.”

The Place cue motivates your dog to learn to be calm while life is happening around them.

For the place spot, pick something with defined boundaries like a raised dog bed, a bath mat, a yoga mat, or even a towel.

How to teach your dog the “Place” cue

  1. Lead your dog on their leash to the Place spot, rewarding them with “Yes!” or the clicker and offer a treat once all four paws are on the spot.

  2. Release your dog with your release word such as “Break” or “Free,” and repeat several times.

  3. Practice this for 10 minutes 2-3 times per day inside your house.

  4. As your dog learns what you are asking, build up the duration. Start with just a few seconds, then reward. Then 5. Then minutes. Make sure to incorporate lots of breaks when you’re starting out so that your dog doesn’t become too tired or frustrated.

  5. Once your dog has mastered duration, you’ll want to introduce distractions. Do things like shake the leash, make strange sounds, run around, and hide behind corners. Clap your hands, toss a ball in the air, walk out of sight.

Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol is my go to for introducing distractions. It’s a 15-day plan for increasing duration, distractions, and distance. Once you’ve mastered the 15 days, then you can take your dog to more distracting locations to strengthen the skill further.

Now that your dog is really fluent in the Place cue, you’ll want to up the ante by going to distracting locations. There are a ton of really great spots to practice:

  • In a parking lot

  • Near a dog park

  • Outside a Lowe's or Home Depot

  • In a town square

If your dog breaks command during place training, simply say “Nope” or “Uh-uh,” and lead your dog back to the “place” with their leash and your body position. Do not reward for a mistake.

You’ll be amazed by the change in your dog’s behavior, even when distractions are everywhere.

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