Courtesy of Dr. Marty Goldstein
Have you ever found yourself tripping over your dog as you tried to make dinner? Or maybe they try to play, snuggle, or jump in your lap every time you sit down. And if you’re like most dog parents, it’s a struggle to keep your pup calm and still during a veterinary check-up. It’s perfectly natural for your dog to want to be with you all the time … and it’s understandable if they feel uneasy at the vet.
But sometimes, it would be safer for them, and easier for you, if your dog would simply calm down and stay in one place. Well, there’s a “magic” word that can keep them out from under your feet while you’re cooking, help them sit still for the veterinarian… and even help your dog hangout on their own for a while when you’re busy. It’s just one simple word: “Place.”
What follows is how to teach your furry pal this command using a designated “dog mat” where your pup can sit and stay put. This can be a padded cushion or a folded towel because the type of mat doesn’t really matter. It just needs to be square-shaped, big enough for your dog to curl up on, and small enough to fit in their crate or carrier. This is a fun, easy trick for your dog to learn, plus: You’ll use their favorite, most delicious treats to motivate them! Here’s how it’s done.
Give Your Dog a "Place." You’ll need:
• A soft bed, blanket, or towel for your dog to relax on (this will be your mat)
• Your pup ’s favorite, most irresistible treats
- Lay your “dog mat” down and place a treat in the center.
- Sit beside the mat and wait for your curious pup to come explore.
- When your dog steps on the mat, say “good pup.” Let them find their treat and sniff around on the mat.
- Then take the mat away and store it somewhere your dog can’t reach. After a few practice sessions, your dog will think “treats” when they see their mat — and come running over.
#2: Teach the cue: "Place."
- This time, lay the mat down as usual but keep the treat in your hand.
- Say "place" and hold the treat over the surface of the mat.
- When your dog walks onto the mat, give them their treat.
- Leave the mat out between your training sessions, but ONLY give them a treat for sitting on it when you’re practicing the command "place." This teaches your pup that if they go to the mat when you tell them to, they’ll get a treat
- Repeat step 2 every day until your pup knows "place" means to go to their special spot (and then you’ll give them a tasty snack.)
#3: When your pup has mastered "place" add the command “stay.”
- After your dog has "place" down pat...
- You can teach them “stay.” If your dog already knows “stay,” that’s great. If they don’t, not to worry.
- To teach your dog, simply repeat step 2, and then say “stay” and take a step back. If they stay put, hooray! Give them a treat.
- If they move off the mat, say “place,” give them a treat when they go to it, and then start over. They’ll soon get the hang of it!
#4: Practice “place” and “stay” commands. Add more distance each time.
- You’re taking baby steps here. Take just 3 steps away, then reward them for staying.
- Walk 5 steps away, reward them for staying, and so on until you can even leave the room.
- Just keep practicing. Your furry pal will learn at their own pace, and soon, they’ll have this trick down.
And that’s how it’s done. Just remember — the more you practice, the easier it will be for your dog to learn this trick. Plus, after your dog gets the hang of "place" and “stay”, you can add their crate or dog carrier to the mix. Simply lay their dog mat inside the crate, say "place" and give them a treat when they go inside. This can help your dog view their crate as a safe, happy place. So you see, this little bit of training can be so beneficial for you and your dog’s daily life…And working together to learn a new skill can make your bond stronger than ever. — Dr. Marty Goldstein, Integrative Veterinarian