Place / Bed
Place command asks your dog to go to a designated place (e.g. bed) and wait there until released. This is a great management tool to use at home while you are having dinner or when you have guests.
To practice place, say “Place,” and walk the dog over to their bed (if that’s what you’re using. In the facility we use elevated beds to practice this command). Start with one place to prevent any confusion. Once all four paws are on the bed, say, “Yes” and reward (treat or attention). Take a step back and count to 5 (you should not be using any other commands at this time, like Stay). If they try to get out of the bed, say, “No” and walk them back over to the bed. Don’t reward the dog when you are forced to correct their action. Once you’re done counting, say “Free.” This is our release command. When they are off the bed, say “Yes” and give them another reward.
If you can’t get to 5, start with 3. When you are only starting to teach, you want to make sure they make the association of “Go there and stay there” with the cue Place and being released with the cue “Free.” Then start extending the duration and increasing the distractions.
Distractions should start as simple as you moving around their bed or being very active around their bed without them jumping off and build up to practicing around other people, food, dogs, etc.
STEP 1 - Mark and reinforce when the dog,
Looks at mat (or bed)
Moves toward mat
Puts 1 paw on mat
Puts 2 paws on mat
Puts 3 paws on mat
Puts 4 paws on mat
Sits on mat
At this point, we will start working on duration.
However, if, at any time, the dog offers a down, jackpot.
Continue to do this until the dog is consistently lying down on the mat
Once the dog is consistently lying down on the mat as soon as they get on it, you can add the cue. "[Dog's name], place"
Stay on mat while rapidly reinforcing
STEP 2 - Introduce the release word - should be the dog's name
Say dog's name, then mark and toss or drop treat away from mat when dog shows any forward movement or tensing to get up
Gradually increase criteria until dog is fully off bed before mark/reward (M/R)
If the dog gets up before being released
Cue the dog back to the mat
Wait for response and reward
Make the next repetition easier - remember, it is the trainer's job, to make sure the dog succeeds
Stay while feed treat, return hand to side, feed another treat, etc
Gradually increase time between treats until you reach about 5 seconds
STEP 3 - Alternate between working on distractions, duration and distance (consider using Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol as a guide)
When the dog has a consistent, solid stay on mat while the trainer turns back and walks about 10 feet away, you can add in a 2nd dog.
Walk back and forth between the two dogs, reinforcing each for staying
Gradually add more time between treats, as well as distance and distractions (again, use Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol as a guide)
Once you reach day 5 or so of relaxation protocol, add in an additional dog
Once full pack of dogs is holding solid stays, work on staying while another dog is working
Release dog with weakest stay
M/R released dog, then quickly M/R each other dog
Ask for a simple behavior, M/R working dog, then M/R each dog in a stay
Rotate dogs, keeping in mind that each dog will be at a different level with this
In the beginning, you will need to keep these sessions VERY short - you can increase the overall duration over time as long as each dog in maintaining a solid stay.