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A New Command for your Dog

Hi everyone! I am sure that you have started seeing holiday items on shelves in the local stores. The holidays are a great time filled with family and friends, but it can also be a very confusing and stressful time for your dog. Just as the stores are preparing early for the holiday rush, you get an early start preparing your dog for busy gatherings and new people.

A simple command can save your guests from over enthusiastic greetings, and show your dog what you expect from him. This command is very helpful in that it will allow your dog to be involved, but not underfoot. It only takes one tripped cook and dropped turkey or tofurkey to realize the usefulness of this command!

So what is this wonderful command? It is Place.
What does Place mean? It directs your pup to his mat (or bed) and lie down.
This command will give your dog a safe area all his own. Start now and your dog will be a pro at the Place command just in time for fall visitors!

How to Start:
To begin, your pooch needs his very own mat or bed. The type of bed that is made to fit your dog’s crate works very well. It has slightly raised sides and a flat bottom, but if your dog already has a favorite that will be just fine.

Step One: Introduce the Place command with treats.
Practice this stage for one week and try to practice for a few minutes twice a day. Put the mat in the middle of the floor. Be sure to have Simon on a leash when you practice this command, as this will allow you to guide him if he seems confused. Begin by having Simon sit a few feet away from the mat. Let him see you put the treat in the middle of his special mat. Enthusiastically tell Simon”Place” and point to the mat. Simon will run to the mat to eat the treat. The second he touches the mat, praise “Good Place.” If he overshoots the mat or doesn’t move, guide him with the lead and tell him “No Place.” Be sure to praise once he gets it right. Repeat this step the first couple of days. Once Simon understands the command, try it without the treat. When Simon is running to the mat consistently, it is time to move to the second step.

Step Two: Lying Down on the Mat.
Practice this step for one week a couple of times a day. Repeat the above steps a couple of times as a review for Simon. Once he is warmed up, it is time to introduce the second part of the Place command. Tell Simon “Place.” Once he runs to the mat tell him “Down.” Be careful to not praise for the command Place until he is lying down, and then praise “Good Place” and give a treat. If your dog does not know the down command, you can use a sit or guide him into a down using your treat. Know that Simon is very smart and he will learn that Place is always followed by a down. In a short amount of time, he will lie down without being told (he knows the down is next anyway). Use lots of praise and treats when he follows Place and you’re sure to have an obedient dog!

Step Three: Staying on the Mat.
Like the others, practice this step for one week a couple of times a day. Once Simon is running to his Place and lying down, it is time to teach him to stay there. Give the command Place. Once he is lying on his mat, tell him stay and take a step back. If Simon stays, walk back to him and praise, then release him with all done or okay. If Simon gets up before his release, tell him No Place and take him back to his mat. Once Simon masters you taking one step away, add a couple of more before you go back and praise. Soon you will be able to walk around the room while he stays on his mat. You are now ready for the last step!

Step Four: Adding Distraction.
Practice this step with increasing difficulty until Simon no longer gets up from his mat without being released. When Simon is using this command in real life, there will likely be some very interesting and exciting things happening. Activities such as people coming in and out the door, or children playing with a ball a few feet away are all likely disturbances. Help Simon prepare for these big distractions by practicing them before hand. Once Simon is staying in his Place as you walk around the room, add in a simple distraction – such as slowly rolling a ball past. If Simon stays, praise Good Place. If he gets up tell him, No Place and take him back and try again. As Simon learns to stay with little distractions, try harder ones – such as the door opening.

This command will take Simon a few weeks to master, but you will be very proud of all your hard work. Place is a command that will come in handy for all sorts of occasions and situations. Take the time to practice now, and by the holidays Simon will be happily lying on his mat with his favorite bone! Feel free to comment with any dog training questions you have.

Katie’s Dog Training offers private, in-home training sessions so that you can experience the loyalty and companionship that a well balanced dog offers. Even though she has graduated numerous training schools, the dogs themselves tend to be her most beneficial teachers. She and her husband share their home with three wonderful dogs, Luka, Jazzy and Honey as well as a crazy cat named D’Angelo.

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Michelle Stone - October 6, 2010 - 1:55 pm

I just came across your work and wanted to say that it’s awesome!!

Adrian Hitt - October 7, 2010 - 1:30 pm

Thank you, Michelle! That is very kind.

Mikki Vance - October 8, 2010 - 10:19 am

I LOVE your work!! You are a true artist!

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