Aunt Florence walks through the front door in her Christmas best, only to be bowled over by  Rover, your beloved, overgrown dog who is trying to say “hello”. Does this sound familiar?

We are currently in the thick of the holiday season and many of us will be entertaining guests at our house. You may enjoy your dog greeting you excitedly when you come through the door, however, your guests may not be as thrilled with this sort of welcome.

In this article, I would like to explore a practical trick to teach your dog, it’s called the “place” command. It teaches your dog to stay on top of a “place object” for a period of time until released by you. At the same time, it improves concentration skills and self control.

Here are a few steps to teach the “place” command:

Step 1

  • First of all, make it a fun game for your dog and have his favorite treats on hand.
  • In the initial steps of learning, try to eliminate unnecessary distractions (such as children, other pets or toys on the floor etc.)
  • Instead of spending 30-45 minutes of continuous training with your dog, split it into 3-5 sessions per day of 5 minutes each.
  • Choose a “place object” that your dog can comfortably fit on, such as a floor mat or dog bed.
  • With your dog at your side place a small treat on top of the “place object” and invite him to go to his “place” while pointing to it. When he gets there he will be able to get his treat.
  • Repeat this exercise as many times as it takes for your dog to learn what you want from him. It takes a dog 30-80 repetitions to learn a new command, so be patient.
  • Important note: your dog gets rewarded only while on top of his “place”.

Step 2

  • Ask your dog to go to his place without placing a treat on it and reward him immediately when he gets on top of it (we’re not working on duration yet).
  • Start introducing distance gradually by taking a step or two away from the place.
  • Once you’re standing farther away you can simply toss the treat on top of the place, next to your dog instead of walking toward him.
  • Try this fun variation: Once they learn the “place command” you can also use it outdoors on benches, stumps, large rocks etc.

Step 3

  • Gradually introduce duration. Most dogs are conditioned to the “good dog” phrase; therefore, we can use it to reinforce duration by saying: “good place” while giving them a treat.
  • Make sure you use a release marker, such as “yes”, “break” or “free” when you are ready for them to leave their place.
  • It’s up to you to determine how long you would like your dog to stay in their place.

How long will it take to see results? Your dog should be able to learn this command in 1-3 days, after that comes repetition and reinforcement.  Please be mindful that the results will be directly related to the amount of time you are willing to invest in training your dog. Remember to keep it fun and with a little bit of practice each day, you can make Aunt Florence say “Wow” this Christmas, when she walks through the door.

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Written by Andy Krzus