Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Trainer Tips--A "Place" Command

Besides the basics like sit and come, there are many helpful commands you can teach your dog to make both your lives easier.  Today we are going to discuss the "Place" command.

Teaching your dog to go to a specific spot, i.e. his "place," is an easy command to get started.  As with any new cue word, you may choose any word you like for this, as long as once you pick it, you stick with it.

Some Cue Word Suggestions:  Place, Bed, Spot.
I personally use the command "Bed" with my dogs because most of the time the "place" I am telling them to go will be their bed.  

To Begin:

Now to begin training this, you must first have some sort of object you can place on the ground that your dog can comfortable get onto.  Preferably something comfortable for the dog.  This can be a mat, rug, regular dog bed, or raised dog bed.  Anything that can be laid onto the ground with your dog on top.  Most people usually already have a dog bed for their pet at home.  That's a great place to start.  I do not recommend starting with something too large, heavy, or not easily moveable.  You want to be able to move the object (bed) to different locations to practice.

Be sure your dog is comfortable around his "place."  
Start by giving your cue word (whatever you have decided to call it...place, bed, etc), then Food Lure the dog onto the bed.  Once your dog is fully on the mat, rug, or bed, tell them your Reward Marker, "Good!" and reward with a tasty treat.  Repeat.

Food Lure:
This is something we use to teach many new behaviors and commands.  A food lure involves getting the dog to follow your baited hand into a desired position.  It is basically "attaching" your dog's nose to the food and encouraging them to follow it.

Reward Marker / Marker Word:
Use your chosen marker word:  “Good” or “Yes” (or the Clicker).
This is the word (or sound) that says to a dog, “Yes! That is exactly what I wanted you to do!” and is then followed with a reward.  Rewards do not necessarily have to be food.  Rewards are different for each dog but can include:  toys, bones, petting, praise, and even your calm energy.  

Improving the Command:
Once your dog starts to really get the idea, food lure less and less and instead start using the hand signal of pointing to the Place while saying the command word.  Once the dog goes to his place, calmly walk over and mark the behavior with your "GOOD!" and reward lavishly.  If you make the act of the dog going to spot a huge deal and reward him, he will want to do it and it will be easy to get him to him spot anytime you like.

This is also fantastic because you can now use the "Go to your Place" Cue to redirect a dog from bad behaviors such as barking or charging the door when a guest comes.

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