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Tips & Tricks with Sylvia Wes: "Go To Your Bed" or "Place"


Having your dog learn “go to your bed” or “place” is one of the most valuable tools in your doggy training tool kit. Here is a detailed step by step on how to train a “place” cue. Remember, this cue can be taken “on the road” and useful in numerous social settings such visiting a friend's house or sipping coffee outside on your favorite restaurant patio with your four legged bestie. Let’s get started!

STEP 1: Introduce your bed or mat to your pup.

  1. Set it down in front of you and “mark” with a "yes" or “click” any interaction your pup as with the mat. This includes: sniffing, looking at, one paw on, all paws on all the way up to sitting on the mat.

  2. Do this step a few times

STEP 2: Pick the bed/mat up set it down again and let’s get luring.

  1. Lure your pup with the treat onto the mat.

  2. Once they get all four paws on the mat, “mark/click” and the reward.

  3. Release your pup with your “Release cue” (i.e. ‘free’, ‘all done’, ‘finished’, ‘break’ )

  4. Repeat this step several times Key things to remember when practicing “Place” *Do not use your body to corral your pup onto the mat: Set the mat down in front of you in the same place every time and be sure to stand in the same position, relative to the mat anytime you’re working this exercise * Do not ask your pup for a “sit” or a “down” at anytime during this exercise. We want your pup to be focused on the mat, because this cue is really about the bed or mat, not about the “sit” or “down.” *This cue is about a chain of behaviors. We are trying to get your pup to chain together these behaviors: walk over to a mat, lay down on the mat, stay there until released.

STEP 3: Start “Chaining” in a “Sit” behavior.

  1. Lure your pup over to the mat

  2. Get all four paws on the mat

  3. Take the treat up and over their head until they offer an “S-I-T” * REMEBER: do not say “sit” this isn’t about a sit command.

  4. “Mark/Click” the second their toosh hits the mat

  5. Offer them a “jackpot” or 3-5 food rewards

  6. Release them and walk away

  7. Repeat this several times

STEP 4: Start Shaping the Hand signal

  1. The hand signal for this cue is the “presentation arm” (think YOU = Vanna White & BED = Brand new car!)

  2. Hide the treat behind your thumb and start using this “presentation arm” as a hand signal (refer to video for visual aid)

  3. By this point your dog should be walking onto the mat/bed and offering an automatic “S-I-T” on the mat/bed.

  4. Repeat until 90% or until dog offers automatic “sit” on mat using only handsignaql 9/10 times

STEP 5: Start “Chaining” in a “down” behavior

  1. Use your hand signal with lure to get your pup onto the mat into their “auto sit" *If your pup is not automatically sitting when they get onto the mat, go back to STEP 3

  2. Once your pup is seated, lower your hand toward the bed with the lure in it until your dog plops into their “down” position. *Having your dog know a “down” cue is a good prerequisite for this command. If you pup still doesn’t know “down” take a break from “place” to get a solid “down” going first then return here to STEP 5.

  3. “Mark/Click” The second your pup plops into a down and reward.

  4. Release your pup with their release cue and start again.

  5. Repeat this several times until your pup stops needing you to lower your hand down toward the mat/bed and willingly walks on and offers an automatic down. *Be sure to offer a “jackpot” reward for the first time they plop into their “down” automatically

STEP 6: Start Moving further away from the Mat/Bed

  1. Start walking up to the mat stopping in the same place as before while offering your “hand signal”

  • At this point your dog should have already chained together, walking onto and laying down on the mat/bed

2. Gradually begin changing the distance between you and mat/bed.

  • Begin by stopping one step away from the Mat, keep the picture the same as much as you can.

  • Once your pup seems comfortable with still going and laying on their mat/bed start stopping two steps away, then three, then four. Our goal being to be able to send our dog to “place” from across the room!

3. Always remember to “Release” in between reps

When do I start saying “Place” or “Go to your bed”? Very common question, use the 90% rule! When your dog can successfully hop onto their mat and lay down, 9/10 reps. It’s safe to assume we can now name that action.

4. If your pup is struggling to get onto the mat after your stopped one extra step away,

shorten the distance a bit by either half a step or be going back to the previous distance

from the mat.

STEP 7: Work on “Staying in Place”

  1. Much the same way we added distance getting onto the mat we’ll add it moving away from the mat.

  2. Start in front of or only 1-2 steps away from the mat.

  3. Give your hand signal, your pup should run over and lay down on the mat.

  4. “Mark/Click” immediately walk over and reward your pup (or toss them the treat in their bed) do not make them get up.

  5. Take one step away from the bed and return bad to the mat/bed.*“Mark/Click” and reward.

  6. Release your pup from right next to the ned, never from afar.

  7. REPEAT.

  8. Gradually start taking more steps away and back. Always returning to the dog to “mark/click” and reward.

  • As always set them up for the win, begin by only traveling one step and back, then two steps and back, then three (etc). if you take three and you pup gets up before you release, head back to just two steps.

Work at your pups pace and always remember to stay PAWsitive and reward often.

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