As we approach the 1 year anniversary of sending our dogs to, what I call, “doggie boot camp”, I have been reflecting on how that experience has so greatly impacted our family. It was a great investment in our dogs as it has made their lives, and ours, so much more enjoyable.
The goal was to have dogs that were better on leash – not barking, lunging at other dogs, yanking my waddling preggo butt off my super swollen feet (ugh!) – and having them calmer while at home when UPS rings our bell for packages, the delivery guy comes, or friends come over.
I turned to Tampa Bay K9 Solutions (TBK9S) for the dogs. Owner, Rick, addresses the issues that each dog has and customizes the 3 week long boarded program. He focused on the issues that we discussed, as well as other general areas of training that Kemper and Brinkley needed handled. Like that Brinkley is a wiggle butt and struggles to sit.
They came back happy, focused, and ready to show off everything that they learned. I had never heard of “PLACE” prior to their training, but I was so happy that it was something that they were trained to do.
Besides having them walk amazing well on leash now, we are thrilled that we can have people in our home without them running to the door, jumping on them, and getting too wild around them. They sit there calmly as we have friends, family, and workers in our home. Because the dogs are calm when our guests arrive, they remain calm during their visit. We are then able to “FREE” them and they can then calmly interact with our guests.
The “PLACE” Command is the command that we use most often now as it really has changed our lives. We really think that all dogs should know this command.
What is THE “PLACE” COMMAND?
The “PLACE” command teaches them to stay ON a thing until you give the command to “FREE” them. It’s an advanced form of the “STAY” command, as it teaches them that they need to make contact to that “place mat”, so they can’t creep away from that place.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT TO USING the “PLACE” Command?
The “PLACE” command is a great tool to keep a dog in a spot in and out of your house so that you can control the situation, like if someone comes to your house or if you want to go to a cafe with them.
Using “PLACE” is a great way of:
- Keeping your dogs safe from running outside, like when you have a delivery come
- Giving them a comfortable, quiet place to go
- Keep them out of a space
- Keep your dog from being under foot
- Allowing people to enter your house without the dogs charging them
- Creating a safe place for them in your home or in a public place
For us, having the dogs in “PLACE” while people come to our door or come in our house is a great way of controlling the situation. The door can be open without us fearing they will run out, people can get in the door and get their shoes off without dogs disrupting them, and the excitement of the new people can wear away and the dogs can be “FREE” once they see that there is no excitement or stress associated with this visitor.
WHERE is “PLACE”
Rick uses a cot during his training program at TBK9S so he provided one for us to take home. The cot is a great way of designating that safe space for them.
We keep the cot in our living room, but in reality “PLACE” can be a blanket, towel, bathmat, or dog bed. We prefer to use the cot so the dogs clearly understand that we want them to stay there when we say “PLACE”, and not be confused with when we tell them to go to their beds. (We tell our dogs “House Time!!!” and they go to beds in their crates.)
While on pack walks, Rick would give the “PLACE” command to the dogs on various things, like benches, to drive home the fact that “PLACE” is the command to stay in a spot/on the thing that we tell them, not just the cot, where they have been trained.
While at Tampa Bay K9 Solutions’ socializing events like “Yappy Hour”, we bring our cot with us so Kemper and Brinkley will stay on their cot during the event. They do well with the familiarity of it being their cot. As well, I like that it keeps them off the ground on a object that is fairly noticeable, reducing the chance of people from tripping over them.
How to get Starting Using the “PLACE” Command
It is ideal for your dog to have a basic understanding of the “SIT” and “STAY” commands, as the “PLACE” command builds upon it, but you can incorporate this into their training as they learn those commands as well.
You will need:
- A “place” – cot, mat, towel, bed, etc
Leash your dog, and bring them to their mat and say the “PLACE” command. Give them a treat to identify the good behavior of going there. You can reinforce that they need to “stay” there by saying the “STAY” command, but it is really important to focus on the “PLACE” command.
When your dog goes off the mat, bring them back to the mat and say “PLACE” again. Continue to reinforce the good behavior of them going to the mat and staying on there.
Rick taught me that it’s not important what they do while on the mat – stand, sit, or lay down. it’s just about them staying on it. Typically, the dogs do just lay down on their own, without my prompting them, by using the “DOWN” command.
Of course your dog doesn’t understand that they are required to stay in “PLACE”, so they will get off the mat. Calmly, bring them back to the mat and give the “PLACE” command again.
As your dog is learning the “PLACE” command, extend the amount of time that they are holding place. From a few minutes to 10 to 15 to 30 minutes.
Besides just keeping place in your home, start by making your dogs hold place in public. Go to the park, go to your local coffee shop, check out a dog friendly restaurant. Bring your cot or whatever you use as your “PLACE” so they have a familiar piece of equipment to start with. Then you can try out other things, like a bench.
Releasing from the “PLACE” Command
While you are teaching them this, it’s also important to teach them that they are only allowed to get off the “PLACE” command by hearing the “FREE” command.
As we have 2 dogs, we say their names and then the command “Kemper! FREE! Brinkley! FREE!”
Tips for using the “PLACE” Command
Like any training, consistency is key. Practice this command even when you don’t need your dogs to sit there.
Give lots of praise and reward their good behavior with vocal, physical, and edible rewards. When they break the command, correct them calmly by bringing them back to their cot/mat and calmly repeating the command.
Your dog should be leashed while out of the house, like when going on a walk or doing to a dog friendly restaurant, but you can even leash them at home while they practice the command or are using it while someone is coming into your home. Looping the leash on the leg of the cot is helpful as a backup way of grabbing them if they break the command. Plus, no one likes o drag a lot along with them.
And if all else fails… kids like place too! ha!!
I am providing guidance and basic instruction that I have learned through reading and one on one instruction related to the training our dogs have received. As always, it is best to consult with a professional related to the health, wellness, and training of your dog(s).