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How To Teach A Dog Place Command: Mastering the Basics for a Well-Mannered Pet

Teaching your dog the “place” command is an extremely useful and sometimes overlooked aspect of canine obedience. This command directs your dog to go to a designated spot and stay there until released, which can be beneficial in various situations, from managing behavior in the house to providing a sense of security for your dog in unfamiliar environments. Successfully instilling this command requires a combination of choosing the right location for training, selecting an appropriate “place” for your dog, and understanding the pre-training basics essential for a smooth learning process.

A dog sits on a designated mat or platform, looking attentive. A person stands nearby, giving clear commands and using hand signals

Consistency and clarity are crucial throughout the training steps, ensuring your dog understands what is expected. It’s important to gradually build the command, reinforcing it through practice and patience. Recognizing and addressing common issues early helps prevent them from becoming ingrained habits. Over time, with the use of clear cues and rewards, you can incorporate the “place” command into your daily routine, enhancing both your dog’s obedience and your mutual enjoyment of time together.

Key Takeaways

  • Effective place command training is built on consistent practice and clear communication.
  • Troubleshooting is essential to address and prevent issues during training.
  • Regular reinforcement enhances the command’s reliability and integration into everyday life.

Understanding the Place Command

A dog lies on a designated mat, focused and calm. Trainer stands nearby, giving clear hand signals. Room is quiet and well-lit

When we discuss the place command, we refer to a specific aspect of dog training that instills both discipline and confidence in our dogs. It is a versatile command that directs our pet to go to a designated spot and stay there until released. This command is not only about obedience; it also serves as a safety tool and a way to instill calm behavior in various environments and situations.

To effectively teach the place command, we need to understand that it requires patience and consistent positive reinforcement. We select a spot like a mat or bed, which becomes the designated “place.” It’s essential to ensure that our dog associates this spot with comfort and security, making it more likely for them to stay put.

Key Components of Place Training:

  • Designated Spot: Choose a comfortable and clearly defined area for your dog.

  • Consistency: Use the same cue word and manner each time you give the command.

  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward the dog with treats or praise for compliance.

  • Patience: Gradually increase the duration and distractions as your dog becomes more adept.

Engaging in place training ultimately builds a framework for our dogs that enhances their understanding of expectations, their own self-control, and their ability to remain composed. This disciplined approach not only benefits their behavior but also deepens the bond between us and our dogs, as they learn to trust and respond to our guidance.

Choosing the Right Training Location

A dog sitting in front of two different locations, one being a comfortable and inviting spot, while the other is less appealing. The dog is looking at the inviting spot with interest

When teaching your dog the place command, it’s crucial to select a location that sets up our canine companions for success. The right environment can significantly enhance their ability to learn and obey commands promptly.

Indoor Training Essentials

For indoor training, we aim for a quiet location to avoid distractions and help the dog focus. The kitchen often works well if it’s not during mealtime, as the promise of food can serve as a motivating reward. However, ensure it’s a time when foot traffic is low to keep the peace. It’s beneficial to have their crate nearby, fostering a sense of security and routine. Also, we make sure we have a leash at hand, even indoors, to gently guide them if necessary.

Outdoor Training Considerations

Outdoors, we must prepare for a different set of variables. Always keep our dog on a leash to maintain control in case of any unforeseen distractions. Initially, we choose a quiet location here as well—away from other animals and busy streets, ensuring they can concentrate on our commands. As their training progresses, gradually introducing more distractions outdoors can strengthen their obedience skills.

Selecting Your Dog’s Place

A dog sits on a designated mat, looking alert. A person points to the mat, giving a command. The dog remains in place, attentive and obedient

When we teach our dog the place command, choosing the right location and object is crucial. It sets the foundation for effective training.

Types of ‘Places’

A variety of objects can serve as your dog’s “place.” It could be a specific dog bed, a simple mat, or even a designated towel. The key is to use something that clearly signifies to your dog that this is their spot. You want to make sure the size is appropriate—a portable bed may be ideal for smaller dogs, while a larger crate could be better for bigger breeds.

Place Board vs. Dog Bed

A place board has borders that help a dog recognize the boundary of their “place” more easily. However, a dog bed could be more comfortable and soothing, especially for dogs with separation anxiety. Weigh the benefits of boundary definition against comfort and choose what will work best for your dog’s training and welfare.

Importance of a Designated Spot

Having a designated spot like a crate or a mat is important for several reasons. It creates a safe and secure area which can reduce separation anxiety in dogs. By consistently using the same spot, our dogs learn faster and have a reliable area to retreat to when they need to feel secure or when we need them to stay out of the way.

Pre-Training Basics

A dog sits on a designated spot, ears alert, eyes focused. A trainer stands nearby, pointing to the spot, giving commands

Before we begin teaching our dog the place command, it’s essential to lay a solid foundation. This preparation will involve familiarizing your dog with the target area, establishing a reliable cue-response relationship, and setting a consistent training routine.

Introducing Your Dog To The Place

First, we choose an appropriate place such as a mat, rug, or dog bed for our dog to associate with the command. We want to ensure it’s a comfortable spot that our dog can clearly identify as their own. Using a lure like a favorite treat, we’ll gently guide our dog onto the place. As soon as they set all four paws on the mat, we’ll provide positive reinforcement with a treat and praise.

  • Item: Mat or Bed
  • Action: Luring onto Place
  • Response: Treat and verbal praise

Cue-Response Relationship

Establishing a reliable cue involves picking a word or phrase such as “go to your place.” Consistency with our cue is critical. We should also decide on a hand signal to accompany the verbal cue, as dogs respond well to visual cues. As our dog begins to understand and respond to the cue, we can introduce a release word or release cue that signifies they can leave their place.

  • Cue: “Go to your place”
  • Hand Signal: Point towards the place
  • Release Word: “Free” or “Okay”

Consistency and Routine

We must be consistent with our commands, signals, and rewards to avoid confusing our dog. Training sessions should be short but frequent, woven into our daily routine to help reinforce the behaviour. It’s equally important to regularly practice the down command, as it is often paired with the place command.

  • Frequency: Daily sessions
  • Duration: Short (5-10 minutes)
  • Down Command: Practice alongside place training

By adhering to these pre-training essentials, we set the stage for successful place command training with our dog.

Training Steps Explained

A dog sits on a designated "place" mat while a trainer gestures and gives verbal commands. The dog remains calm and attentive, demonstrating understanding of the "place" command

In this section, we’ll break down the essentials of teaching the place command to our dogs, focusing on key training steps with clear guidance and practical tips.

Luring to the Place

We start by introducing our dog to the designated “place,” such as a mat or bed. By using a luring technique, we guide the dog towards the spot with high-value treats in hand. The instant they step onto the mat with even just one paw, we swiftly reward them. It’s a gentle coaxing that encourages them to associate the mat with positive outcomes.

Teaching the Down Command

Once our dog is comfortably stepping onto the mat, it’s essential to integrate the lie down or down command. With our dog standing on the mat, we hold a treat close to their nose and slowly lower it between their front paws, encouraging them to follow with their body into a lying position. As soon as they lie down, immediate reward reinforces this desired behavior.

Adding the Cue

Now, it’s time to introduce a verbal cue or hand signal. We begin to say the word “Place” or use a consistent gesture each time our dog steps onto the mat and lies down. Repetition is key here; by consistently pairing the cue with the action and providing rewards, our dog begins to understand what is expected when they hear the command.

Mat Training Techniques

Effective mat training hinges on gradually increasing the difficulty of the task. We encourage our dog to move all four feet onto the mat and eventually get them to stay in place before they receive their reward. This aspect of training instills discipline and self-restraint, and over time, we phase out the treats, ensuring our dog complies even without the promise of a reward.

Practicing the Release Command

Finally, a crucial part of the place command is teaching our dog when it’s okay to leave the mat, using a release command. We select a distinct release word like “free” or “okay,” and use it consistently to signal the end of the exercise. Patience is pivotal at this stage, as we only use the release word when we’re ready for our dog to stand up, thereby avoiding mixed signals.

In each of these steps, we remain calm, patient, and consistent. Repeating these exercises solidifies the place command, creating a reliable way to manage our dog’s behavior in various situations.

Reinforcing the Command

To solidify a dog’s understanding of the “Place” command, we focus on consistent reinforcement strategies. By using positive reinforcement and carefully timed rewards, we support our dog’s learning and gradually challenge them to maintain the behavior for longer periods.

Using Positive Reinforcement

We rely on positive reinforcement to encourage our dog’s compliance with the “Place” command. When our dog successfully goes to their designated spot, we immediately offer praise or a reward. This clear association between the action and a positive outcome helps to strengthen the command. Consistency is crucial; we reward the behavior every time to ensure our dog understands what is expected.

The Role of Treats in Training

Treats are an effective tool in our training arsenal. When beginning, we use high-value treats to reward our dog for following the “Place” command. The value of the treat is important – it should be something our dog finds irresistible, ensuring their attention and eagerness to comply.

List of potential high-value treat options:

  • Cooked chicken
  • Cheese pieces
  • Hot dogs
  • Peanut butter

As we continue training, we may transition to other forms of rewards, such as toys or praise, to ensure our dog doesn’t become over-reliant on food rewards.

Gradual Increase of Duration

Our end goal is for our dog to stay in their designated spot for an extended time. We start by rewarding them for short stays, and as training progresses, we gradually increase the duration before we dispense a treat. Incorporating clicker training can be effective here; we use the clicker to mark the behavior at specific intervals, followed by a reward.

Steps to increase duration:

  1. Start with a few seconds, reward.
  2. Gradually extend the time by seconds.
  3. Mix the intervals to prevent predictability.
  4. Reward intermittently to maintain focus.

By patiently and methodically increasing the time our dog spends in their place, we further reinforce the command and instill a deeper level of obedience.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While teaching the place command, we’ll encounter some obstacles that can hinder our dog’s learning process. Here, we address these common issues and provide clear solutions to overcome them.

Dealing with Distractions

Distractions are a normal part of life, but they can disrupt training. When introducing the place command, start in a low-distraction environment and gradually introduce more challenging distractions. For instance, if the doorbell is a distraction, practice the command without the bell first, then simulate ringing while instructing your dog to stay in place. Consistency and gradual exposure are key to helping them stay focused despite interruptions.

Preventing Jumping on Guests

A common issue we see is dogs jumping on guests as they enter our homes. To manage this, we need to establish clear manners. Practice the place command with someone acting as a guest. As they approach, lead your dog to their place and reward them for staying instead of jumping. With repetition, your dog will learn to associate guests with going to their spot rather than jumping up.

Managing Barking and Begging

Excessive barking and begging at the table can be mitigated through the place command. For barking, ensure you address this behavior by commanding them to their place and offering treats when they remain quiet. As for begging, always direct them to their place during meal times and never feed them from the table. This reinforces the idea that their place is where they should be to receive rewards, not the dining area.

Advanced Training Techniques

In our approach to advanced training, we focus on honing the skills needed for discipline, compliance during travel, and maintaining calmness amidst potential disruptions. These techniques build on foundational training to ensure that dogs can follow the place command in a variety of challenging situations.

Discipline and Obedience

To enhance discipline and obedience, we reinforce the place command with consistency and patience. We introduce varying levels of difficulty by changing the duration and adding new elements to the command execution. For instance, during training sessions, we progressively extend the time our dog must remain in their place before being rewarded.

Training for Car Rides and Travel

When preparing for car rides and travel, we introduce a designated dog travel bed that becomes synonymous with safety and comfort. By practicing the place command with this bed in a stationary vehicle, we then gradually accustom our dog to staying put in a moving car, reinforcing calm behavior.

Creating a Settle Down Cue

Developing a settle down cue is crucial for moments when we need our dog to calm down quickly. We teach this by associating a specific word or signal with the action of lying down in their designated spot. We start in a familiar, distraction-free environment and build up to more stimulating settings to solidify the cue.

Mastering the Stay with Distractions

Lastly, to master staying put with distractions, we introduce various stimuli while our dog is in their place. We begin with mild distractions, such as the presence of another person in the room, and gradually work up to more significant ones like loud noises or tempting food. The key here is to reward them for maintaining their position despite these challenges.

Incorporating Place Command into Daily Routine

Incorporating the place command into our daily routine strengthens our dog’s obedience and manners. By integrating this command at key moments throughout the day, we not only reinforce the training but also promote a well-mannered pet.

Mealtime Manners

During mealtime, resisting the temptation to beg at the table is essential for our dog. We begin by commanding our dog to the designated “Place” before we start eating. This could be a mat or bed close enough to be within sight but far enough to avoid begging. Consistency is crucial; we ensure to send our dog to their place every time we eat.

Answering the Door

An eager or protective dog can make answering the door challenging. So, we practice the place command to manage their behavior when the doorbell rings. We instruct our dog to go to their “Place” when we hear the doorbell and reward them for staying put. This helps minimize the chaos of arrivals and teaches polite door manners.

During Visits to the Vet

Visits to the vet can be stressful, but the place command can provide a touchstone of calm. Before vet appointments, we work on “Place” at home to create a positive association. At the vet, we choose a spot as our dog’s “Place” for them to sit quietly, both in the waiting room and during the examination, if possible. This helps keep our dog calm and makes the experience more manageable for everyone involved.

Maintaining and Refining the Place Command

Once your dog has initially grasped the place command, we’ll want to focus on reinforcing and improving this behavior. Mastery requires consistent practice and slight adjustments over time to ensure your dog reliably follows the command in a variety of situations.

Regular Practice and Consistency

Consistent Daily Practice: We should include the place command in our daily training routine. Setting aside a few minutes each day helps reinforce the behavior, and over time, our dog will respond more quickly and reliably.

  • Mon: 5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes in the evening.
  • Tue: 10 minutes combined with other obedience training.
  • Wed: 5 minutes practicing with distractions (e.g., new people in the room).
  • Thu: Rest day, but encourage use of the place for relaxation.
  • Fri: 5-minute sessions with increased distance.
  • Sat: 10 minutes adding more challenging distractions (e.g., dropping a toy near the place).
  • Sun: Review the week’s training and note any improvements or areas that need more work.

Gradual Difficulty Increase: As our dog becomes more comfortable, we incrementally add three D’s:

  1. Distance – We start giving the command from further away.
  2. Duration – We ask the dog to stay in place for longer periods.
  3. Distractions – We gradually introduce new distractions.

In terms of training equipment, it’s vital to select a designated place mat or bed that will be used consistently. This item should be portable for training in different environments and comfortable enough that our dog wants to stay there.

Regular Adjustments and Updates:

  • Adjust the duration and difficulty based on our dog’s performance.
  • Occasionally change the training environment to help our dog generalize the behavior.
  • Replace or update the place mat or bed if it becomes worn out to keep the training space inviting.


  • Isabella Rossi

    1. Age:26
    2. Lives In: Rome, Italy
    3. Interests: Italian cuisine, and bicycle rides
    4. Favorite Dog: Cane Corso, because they're as majestic and noble as the Roman ruins.
    What I Enjoy About Writing: "Capturing the essence of 'la dolce vita' for dogs and their owners is my passion. When not indulging in pasta and prose, you'll find me serenading my Cane Corso, Brutus, amidst the timeless backdrop of the Eternal City."