The Power of Place
Picture this: You come home from a long day at work, you’ve had to run errands and you need to get food on the table before it’s too late. Your dog’s place may be wandering the kitchen, underfoot, and trying to beg for scraps, or praying some food hits the floor. Does this sound familiar? If so, what do you do?
For a lot of people this is the case. We feel guilty for leaving our dogs at home while we work, run errands, or go out. We want them to have some freedom, but having a shadow glued to you may not be your idea of a relaxing evening in.
It’s true, after a day at home your dog is probably in need of a work out, at least a mental one. Most times dogs get into trouble or destructive is when they are bored. Dogs can be social animals, but there’s a time and place for when and where they get their love and attention. Following you around the kitchen is not one of those scenarios.
Cue the “go to place” command. Who wouldn’t want to lay on a comfy bed and eat your favorite snack? Too often we think of “place” as a punishment, not as a constructive way of training that is mentally engaging your dog.
Tips for Training “Go to Place”
- Start small, ask your dog to hold a few extended down stays and see if they get tired or distracted. Be sure that you are the one releasing them from the task. If your dog is breaking the command before you release them, shorten the duration they have to hold “place”.
- Set solid expectations but listen to your dog and back track if you need to. There is nothing wrong with simplifying something until your dog masters it. Be sure that you follow through consistently in the expectations you set. Don’t put them on place and let them wander off, track them down and put them back on place.
- Build up the length of time and distance away from you that your dog can hold their down stay.
Creating the “place” position is important and takes practice. It’s a great exercise for your dog because it requires them to mentally engage and remember what they were doing.
Why is “Go to place” important?
Have you ever walked in a room, forgot what you walked in for, and then walked out? You probably had too many things on your mind and needed to focus your attention on one thing. It’s the same with your dog, by putting them on place you are limiting their options to constructive outlets instead of creating a hazard in the kitchen, or wandering aimlessly around the house.
Place isn’t a punishment, it’s a chance for them to focus on their task at hand. When they’ve done good, praise them up big time! Who wouldn’t want a reward for being a couch potato all day?! I’d like to earn a cookie every time I relax on the couch, and that’s what you’re doing for your dog.
“Go to Place” gets your dog out from being underfoot, and gives you another tool to add structure and build your bond with your dog. You can utilize “Go to Place” in other situations. Does your dog go nuts when the door bell rings? Teach them to go to place when they hear the sound instead of charging the door. Your guests will appreciate not getting rushed by a dog when the door opens. Your dog will have a chance to calm down and greet strangers appropriately instead of being excited and crazy. No matter when or where you are practicing “place”, start off with your dog on a leash. It makes it a lot easier to catch them and re-position them if they break out of their “place” too soon.
Remember consistency is key! Once you create and establish solid rules for your dog, you will fully understand the power of place, the freedom and trust it provides, and the strengthen relationship you and your dog will have.